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Sun, Sept. 22

Ask the Contractor: Polished concrete floor ideal for aesthetics, health

I have existing tile in the kitchen, living and dining room areas and I am considering polished concrete flooring. Can I just apply the concrete over the existing tiles or do I need to have the tile removed? — Martha, Prescott

This is a question that comes up more often than not; installing a new flooring component over existing flooring. Tile is a very popular and common flooring material and, according to Brian Peterson of Diversified Concrete Crafters, “if a homeowner wants polished concrete floors, the existing tile material must be removed. In order for the polished concrete floor to adhere and perform up to its strength, beauty and standards, the existing concrete sub-base must be inspected and evaluated to determine the desired floor finish.”

It is important to inspect the existing concrete base for cracks, chips, floor hardness and “tile ghosting.” Tile ghosting is the appearance and shadowing of tile outlines on the concrete floor once the existing tiles have been removed. The ghosting can seep through polished concrete floors if not prepared correctly. Depending on the severity of these common issues when the tile is removed, a “polishable overlay” in some cases needs to be installed over the existing concrete to prepare the floor to eliminate issues and create a level surface.

Once the existing concrete floor has been prepared properly, then patterns and decorative saw cuts can be added for aesthetic appeal prior to the polishing, if so desired. There are many pros to a polished concrete floor; the green value is cleaner and, unlike tile, a polished concrete floor is breathable and it does not harbor mold and mildew. A polished concrete floor is an ideal flooring material for asthma and COPD sufferers, it is easier to maintain and clean, and certainly can outlast carpet. You can be as creative as you want with a polished concrete floor from color to design. With the ease of maintenance, Brian said, “polished concrete floors are the new kid on the block in the world of decorative flooring material.”

Installing polished overlay flooring requires a special and distinctive level of expertise and, according to Brian, performing the overlay is complex and if not done correctly problems will occur.

We took a major leap and purchased a new home with hardwood floors. Everyone is telling us various ways to clean and maintain, and we are confused. What is the best way to clean hardwood floors? — Susie and Paul, Cottonwood

As they say, gleaming wood floors are a thing of beauty and it’s important to keep them that way. So what is the best way to clean and care for your wood floors? Keep in mind, the wood species does not determine how wood floors should be cleaned, but the finish of the floor does.

The most popular of wood floor finishes today are urethanes and polyurethanes, which protect the wood making the floor more water resistant and durable. Before you grab that bucket of water and a mop, it is best to find out how your hardwood floor is sealed, if at all.

Ask the installer/builder of your home how the floors were finished. If you cannot obtain that information, it would be advisable to call a local hardwood flooring company to determine the finish.

Surface-sealed floors — Most new wood floors are sealed with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic. Surface-sealed floors are stain and water-damage resistant and easiest to care for and clean: Sweep, mop and you’re done!

If the stain is on the surface, your floor probably has a hard finish, such as urethane. If the stain has penetrated through to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish, which is common in older homes whose floors have not been refinished and resealed. Wipe surface stains from hard finished floors with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or harsh chemicals on such a surface because they can cause permanent damage.

The following remedies are for hardwood floors with soft oiled finishes:

Dark spots and pet stains — Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.

Oil-base stains — Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don’t work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you’re done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.

Water marks or white stains — Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.

You can speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor’s finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths.

Penetrating-seal-treated and oil-treated floors — This type of floor must be pampered and protected with liquid or paste wax.

Lacquered, varnished, shellacked and untreated floors — Technically surface finishes, lacquers, varnishes and shellacs are not as resistant to moisture, spills and wear as the other sealants mentioned. Treat floors with these finishes and floors with no finish as you would penetrating-seal-treated and oil-treated floors.

Never use straight ammonia, alkaline products or abrasive cleaners. They’ll dull or scratch the finish.

Use a floor-cleaning product recommended by the floor finisher or opt for plain soap and water.

Overall, don’t rely on a vinegar and water solution to clean hardwood floors. This method of cleaning has lost its flavor and the popular belief is that this type of solution causes floors to dull more quickly and it not as effective as simple soap and water.

In high-traffic areas, like the dining room and kitchen, you should sweep daily, if possible, and mop once or twice a week.

Mop less-trafficked areas once a month or once a season. Always mop in the direction of the wood grain and repeat as necessary. Martha Stewart believes that scrubbing wood floors with a damp cloth by hand is the ultimate cleaning strategy. But what about our protesting knees Martha?

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time every Saturday and Sunday morning at 7 on KQNA 1130 AM, 99.9 FM, 95.5 FM or the web at kqna.com. Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry meet your local community partners and so much more. What a great way to start your weekend.

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