Do I need to polish my newly installed vinyl VCT tiles?

do i need to polish my vct vinyl floor tiles

This is a hot topic: Readers are hearing from floor sales people that they need to polish and buff their newly installed vinyl composite floor tiles like the professionals do in office buildings.

Dotty from Columbus writes:

Dear Pam, as I have come to terms with the sad new about the Fritztile I wanted…and as I have come to the end of the flooring road… I thought I would settle with sheet vinyl.  I was checking out the day on RetroRenovation, I clicked on your kitchen.  I have looked at it hundreds of times and yet failed to look at your flooring.  Okay, around to my question.  I have always wanted Armstrong/Congoleum tile but have been talked out of it by flooring salesmen. It all seems to swarm around the buffing and polishing.  They have recommended buffing 3 times per year by a professional to keep the dirt out of the surface to prevent staining, including stripping?  How do you maintain your flooring and does any of this sound familiar?  Oh, any exactly which product did you decide on? Commercial/Residential?  Thanks from Columbus.  Dotty

And reader Dee writes:

was wondering – can a vct floor be put in kitchen – high traffic – does it have to be buffed and waxed like they are telling me or can I just mop?  what  are the consequences to that?

My experience:

  • My floor is Azrock Cortina Autumn Haze -12″ tiles – installed at 90-degrees to each other (important detail!). It is commercial tile, I believe – as are most other brands like this including Armstrong’s Imperial Excelon, the Congoleum tile, etc. In fact, it’s often hard to find online because you must remember to go to the Commercial section.
  • See my Kitchens/Flooring Category (above) for all current flooring recommendations.
  • Reader Meredith – whose kitchen is in the lead photo — installed the same floor. She says that she brought in a pro, at least initially: “I’ve already installed the Azrock Cortina Autumn Haze into my kitchen and laundry room.  I absolutely love it!  I had someone come out and put about 5 coats of polish on them so they are really shiny.”
  • I have had these kinds of floor twice now. Both times, I simply used an Armstrong floor polish from Home Depot. I cleaned the floor really well – then put on a few thin coats drying well between. In my last house, I had the floor 6 years, it never aged a bit. This floor is looking kind of scratchy – but I didn’t put the polish on for a year, and I really don’t have many coats on. It’s so neutral – gosh, I don’t notice the imperfections a bit.
  • I do strip it occasionally — like once a year — which is a real pain — and repeat the process to get the virgin-ish shine again.
  • I do not buff my floor. But, I’m kind of interested in doing that sometime, and I am on the lookout for a vintage, estate-sale buffer including the pads. Back in the 50s, they really pushed these on housewives, there seem to be a lot out there.
  • As far as “high traffic” goes — these are Commercial floor tiles. Our kitchens do not come anywhere near the traffic levels these tiles are designed for.
  • Perhaps the sales people are trying to talk you out of these – because they want you to buy a floor that will wear out and which costs more?

All that said – this is just my opinion. I know that other readers have put in these floors — some have indeed had pro’s come in to polish them up.

  1. amanda says:

    I’ve recently purchased a home with VCT under bad carpeting. The home itself is a total time-capsule (only one owner). Promise to post pictures after we close on the house!

    What about the asbestos? I have a family and am concerned about safety. If we rip out the carpet and try to rehab the tile will it release? Anyone with experience here???

    1. pam kueber says:

      Amanda – Please consult with a professional/expert about this issue.

      Readers, don’t even try to post advice. I will delete it immediately.

      On your individual floors, specific situations: Consult with professionals.

  2. St. Christopher says:

    Hi, this is Riina, St. Christopher’s girlfriend. I am purchasing a home built in 1965 and most of the flooring is VCT tile. There is a box of extras in the attic that says asbestos in big letters. The previous owner was a smoker and many of the floor tiles are more brown than the original cream. The color contrast where rugs were or where replacement tiles have been laid is VERY noticeable. Does anyone have any good suggestions about how to clean it and maybe get the original color back? I noticed that several people suggested having the floor professionally buffed and polished, but in case funds are tight, any suggestions on products that might remove tobacco stains?



    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Riina, Get with a professional/expert before you do anything with this tile. This particular post is about whether to polish NEW VCT, not the old stuff with asbestos. You can also see the links to the EPA’s websites — on both asbestos and lead — at the top of my Flooring Fast & Easy Page (as well as many others.) Again, though, everyone: Know what you are working with before you disturb original surfaces … consult with experts to identify the materials and use recommended environmental and safety practices to restore/renovate/dispose/whatever of them.

  3. Mid Mod Pam says:

    Vacation Barbie: In answer to your question, can you install VCT yourself? I am pretty sure the answer is ‘yes.’ This is not a DIY site so you should try other sources including professionals for definitive advice. But I can share a a few tips from my experience that may be helpful as you compile more info. (I had a flooring installer do it, with guidance from my contractor):

    1 – Make sure your sub floor is adequately prepped – nails must be set and sealed properly – and the finish of the subfloor needs to be as smooth as humanly possible. Or: You could get bumps in your tile. There was an issue with my floor – they had to re-do most of it!

    Relatedly – I have seen on some blog, where someone actually FLOATED a cement (I think) subfloor (not sure how thick) to get an absolutely smooth prep surface. The blog might be on my blogroll.

    2 – As above – the mastic must be applied properly, smoothly, etc.

    3 – And, there is some really heavy heavy roller the pro’s used to get the floor to stick really well.

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