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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings!

I am actually in the cleaning services (not construction/craftsman services). I'm a member of a couple great trade forums (the WCRA and PT State), so I've come to realize that boards are the place to turn for expert advice. If you have any time to read/offer guidance, I would greatly appreciate it.

I have a customer who had us do a floor stripping/waxing job at 3 of his properties. 2 properties went well, but we've run into some trouble with the VCT in the 3rd. This property had 3 rooms, and after we left, some of the VCT in one of the rooms started peeling up around the corners--meaning some individual tiles are peeling up on all 4 of their corners. It's not localized and it seems to be distributed throughout the room. It's slight, but it is noticeable. Is there anything we can do to fix this, short of tearing out the floor and starting over?

Specs: Room is approx. 600 sq ft. Installed 14 years ago as part of an addition to the original building.

Background: VERY poor maintenance over the last 10 years. They actually fired the employee who was in charge of maintenance at all 3 properties, and they are not on speaking terms with him. The properties were in pretty terrible shape.

Other Info: This room stays pretty humid. In fact, the polish we applied took over 4 hours to dry. The room has terrible ventilation, and the temperature is kept "as low as we can keep it"--which was about 59 degrees the day we worked there (third week of march). Conversely, it is kept warm in the summer time. NONE of the other floors in the 3 properties have behaved this way. One of my crew guys has done floors for over 15 years and he has never seen this. I called in a 2nd opinion from a very experienced local company--they'd never seen this before.

The Operations Manager is frustrated, as am I. We are trying to see if there is anything we can do. In the long-term, he said about half the room will be converted to offices, so he said he is interested in anything that would be a decent short-term fix.

We followed manufacturer's specs, followed industry-standard processes, and this is the only room we had any trouble with. I don't personally believe that we are at fault, but as a business owner, I feel it is important to do anything in my power to help my client figure out a solution. Obviously, I'd rather not replace the floor either.

Are there any outside the box options here? I've read articles, researched this forum, spoken to some residential flooring contractors, and even talked to a retired chemical engineer who specialized in developing adhesives for 3M.

I'd love to get some feedback from some of you pros: have you ever run into anything like this? Can anyone offer me any suggestions?

If you made it this far, thanks for your time.

If you need any other info, I'll do my best.

If you want to be blunt, I can take it :)

Thanks,
Tyler Gibson
 

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I've seen where building has been vacant and not climate controlled for a number of years. It seemed to shrink and curl. I could see if you were to introduce a stripper, it would get under the edges and compromise the adhesive...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I should add that on the initial walk-through, I didn't notice anything like this. However, while we were there working, we did notice some loose tiles in different areas.

Thanks
 

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Too much of some kind of liquid in the refinishing process.

I see it all the time in schools where janitors just put too much liquid on the floors.

Pry individual tiles up & replace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Too much of some kind of liquid in the refinishing process.

I see it all the time in schools where janitors just put too much liquid on the floors.

Pry individual tiles up & replace.
Thanks for your feedback.

By liquid do you mean stripper/water? Or would you include floor polish?

The only comment I would have on that would be that we followed the same process with all 3 properties.
 

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Thanks for your feedback.

By liquid do you mean stripper/water? Or would you include floor polish?

The only comment I would have on that would be that we followed the same process with all 3 properties.
Definitely stripper and water.

Guess it depends how much polish, never heard that term before, but yes if it's liquid and it sits on the floor too long it can cause a problem.
 

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If you leave it alone under certain conditions it COULD lay back flat. I've seen this dozens of times.

The tiles, glue and concrete did not like whatever process you used. Odds are there's a pre-existing SUBSTANDARD bond. So I doubt you're work is a causal factor.

Nothing you can do will improve the problem. It just needs TIME.
 

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Does it have black cutback adhesive ? There is no fix. If not asbestos adhesive remove, grind adhesive residue , vacuum real well and reapply. If it is black adhesive removing tile without removing adhesive residue will fail due to incompatible adhesives, or skim with Ardex featherfinish then proceed.
It's simply not bonded , whether it be from adhesive, floor prep, or alkaline floor stripper breaking adhesive down, it's not going to re-stick like a pressure sensitive adhesive would.
 

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Does it have black cutback adhesive ? There is no fix. If not asbestos adhesive remove, grind adhesive residue , vacuum real well and reapply. If it is black adhesive removing tile without removing adhesive residue will fail due to incompatible adhesives, or skim with Ardex featherfinish then proceed.
It's simply not bonded , whether it be from adhesive, floor prep, or alkaline floor stripper breaking adhesive down, it's not going to re-stick like a pressure sensitive adhesive would.
You'd be surprised. Every 5-10 years we get a TON of rain like nonstop for 4-6 weeks. It hasn't happened in a very long time. But out here the soil is so hard from the extreme desert conditions that the water goes horizontally under the slab and finds problems no one knew were there. I've seen incredible DISASTERS that I thought were complete replacements. Many weeks passed and I came back to check and the tiles were laying back flat just like when I laid them.

It CAN happen! There's glue under there but when it gets when it loosens up the bond and the constant moisture vapor emmisions causes curling at the seams. Now I seriously doubt today's water based adhesives could do this but the old solvent based glue would return to a sticky condition if allowed long enough to set back up.

I'm not lying.
 

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What makes VCT go up in the air instead of down? I challenge anyone reading this to take a piece of VCT, put it on their coffee table and try to make it curl up without using their hands.

There's glue under there but when it gets when it loosens up the bond and the constant moisture vapor emmission causes curling at the seams.

Pretty astute observation, but vapor emission doesn't cause it so much as the nature of VCT causes it. VCT isn't an impervious product. It can and will absorb water. And when it does...
 

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What makes VCT go up in the air instead of down? I challenge anyone reading this to take a piece of VCT, put it on their coffee table and try to make it curl up without using their hands.

There's glue under there but when it gets when it loosens up the bond and the constant moisture vapor emmission causes curling at the seams.

Pretty astute observation, but vapor emission doesn't cause it so much as the nature of VCT causes it. VCT isn't an impervious product. It can and will absorb water. And when it does...
Yes, the tiles have swollen thus curling the seams off the slab. But the glue will also be soaked and weakened from saturation. Eventually, being a porous material the moisture CAN dry out. This happens where there is no continuous source of moisture like our bone dry desert conditions. So in other words that moisture, to the extent it has caused a failure of the VCT system is emitted through the slab, through the VCT into the air where it eventually dissipates and is no longer a problem. So long as the moisture is passing through some problems will still be evident. We've had so little rain in the past 2-3 years it's as dry as it can get under there.

When I've been sent out to "fix" such problems in the past usually there are areas where the patch has swollen and blown out in addition to curled seams throughout or in isolated sections because the tiles have expanded. With the heavy pallet and cart traffic the patch and tiles are severely cracked, loose and it's now a trip hazard. So that has to be repaired. As I burn out the tiles I can see where the moisture has come up through joints, column cut outs, trenches, perimeter walls and such and you see the effect on the adhesive as well. You can also clearly see by the darkened color where the slab is completely SOAKED through. Take a torch to it and the surface can be dried out for a minute or so, long enough to get your patch and glue to dry that day so the store can get back in business.

I suppose in colder, humid climates this kind of condition may never dry out sufficiently to salvage the job, especially if a cleaning crew were routinely soaking and mopping over it.............OR in front of the freezer case. I would occasionally have to make repeated returns to markets patching out VCT so I could see evidence of the floor drying out and laying back flat. As an apprentice I was doing patch jobs like this on VCT and some sheet vinyl for weeks and months on end over a period of quite a few years. In those days almost everyone was still using white patch and that just doesn't work on grade with an unprotected slab with a resilient floor over top. What a mess!
 

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The company I worked for repaired VCT in front of all the cooler cases also, everything that needed to be done was in epoxy, patching and setting. LVP is also having problems that they've replaced VCT with.

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