My husband recently installed low gloss vinyl tiles in our kitchen. We want to add a sealer and possibly a finish to help protect the floors and enhance the look. However, we want to maintain the low gloss look of the tiles. How can we do this? Can we place a low gloss finish over a sealer that dries water clear? Also, do we have to strip the floors first?
Thanks for any help you can give us.
Yes, you can buy a sealer and cover it with a matte floor finish.
But, there's a bigger problem that you're probably unaware of.
Floor finish is meant to be MAINTAINED, and unless you're willing to spend a few hundred dollars on a used floor machine, like this one:
then you won't be able to maintain that floor finish (matte, gloss or otherwise).
That's because dirt will soon become embedded in the traffic lanes making the floor look dirty in those areas.
If you had a floor machine, you could use a blue pad to scrubb off that dirt embedded surface layer and put down new floor finish (matte, gloss or otherwise) to replace the finish that was scrubbed off and restore the floor to it's original appearance. But, without a floor machine, the only way you could restore the floors appearance is by stripping off all the finish and putting down new finish, and that's a lot of work.
I have vinyl composition tile floors in all 21 of my apartments and they're great floors PROVIDED they're properly maintained. But, I've also been in buildings where no one's ever maintained the vinyl composition tile floors, and they look like awful.
Also, a floor machine scrubbs REALLY REALLY hard. If these are vinyl composition tiles on your floor, you'd do well to buy a used floor machine and maintain the floor finish on it, and I can instruct you on how to do that. But, if these are vinyl Peel & Stick tiles, then I'd be afraid to use a floor machine on that floor. Any tile corner sticking up is going to cause that tile to be damaged. Either the corner will get torn off, or the whole tile will be pulled off the floor or at least out of position.
Without that floor machine, you'd be best off not even putting finish down on your floor to begin with because it's just going to make your floor look worse sooner than it otherwise would.
You can apply sealer if you want, but bear in mind that multiple coats of sealer is gonna make your floor just as glossy as multiple coats of a high gloss floor finish. Sealer is harder than floor finish, and so dirt gets embedded in it more slowly and it would therefore stay looking good longer. But, no one makes a sealer in low gloss because the sealer is normally covered with finish anyway, and finishes come in a variety of gloss levels.
If this is a Peel & Stick floor, what I would do if I were you is use the floor normally until it starts to look worn. Then clean the entire floor with a Magic Eraser to get the dirt out of the tiny scratches in it's surface, and then apply multiple coats of sealer to extend the time the floor remains "good looking". And, keep doing that. Every few years, clean the floor by scrubbing it with a damp Magic Eraser and
applying several coats of sealer. You'll end up with a glossy floor, but it'll at least look good for a lot longer.
As a sealer, I personally like "1st Down" made by the Buckeye Company.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Nestor,
Thank you so much Nestor for this information. We found a local Buckeye representative company that sells 1st Down so we will take your advice and use it as the sealer. My husband did install the vinyl peel and stick tiles so we won't use a finish on top of the sealer. However, do we have to strip the tiles before we add the sealer? Most of the tiles were installed last weekend and he is finishing the rest today. Also how long do we have to wait to add the sealer to the floor? I've read anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after installation.This message has been edited. Last edited by: JordanGirl,
No, the sealer normally goes on first, and then the finish. So, if you had a vinyl composition tile floor that had finish on it, but no sealer, then your'd have to strip the finish off, put down sealer, and then put new finish over the sealer. If your floor is brand new, I'd apply the sealer directly over what you have (but only after checking that the sealer sticks well to the surface of your tiles).
That is, I expect your Peel & Stick floor doesn't have any sealer or finish on it to begin with, so you'd simply apply the sealer to your brand new floor. But, I'm concerned that whomever made your Peel & Stick tiles may have put a clear polyrethane wear layer on top to make them more durable, and I'd be concerned about whether or not the sealer would stick well to that top wear layer.
I'd phone your Buckeye retailer and ask if he has any open gallons of 1st Down, of knows of any customers that purchase and use it regularily. Then pop down to wherever there's an open gallon of 1st Down with a scrap piece of tile, a handful of Q-tips, a hair dryer and a sharp paint scraper. Paint some 1st Down onto a specific area of your scrap piece of tile, dry it with the hair dryer, and keep doing that until you get "several" (3 to 5) dry coats of sealer onto that one specific area of your scrap tile. Now, scrape at that spot with a sharp paint scraper blade, and see if you can scrape through the sealer without the bond between the bottom coat of sealer and the tile breaking and the sealer breaking off the tile in "sheets" or, large thin pieces. You should be able to tell by the way light reflects off the surface of the sealer whether you're scratching through it and it's remaining stuck to the tile, or if it all came off at once. If you can scratch through the sealer in that one area where you painted it on without all (or the biggest hunk) of the sealer coming off, then you have good adhesion between the 1st Down and the vinyl tiles.
Also, the best way I know of to apply sealer to a floor is to use an artificial lamb's wool (of the kind used to apply polyurethane to hardwood floors) which will cost you about $5 for the lambswool and $10 for the holder (if you want to use a holder). You can use the lambswool all by it self, or in a holder as shown below:
and/or with the holder screwed onto the end of a painting pole.
Soak the lamb's wool in water, and then squeeze out the excess water before using it alone or mounting it in it's holder. If you're using it alone, then just pour some sealer directly on to the back of the lambswool to spread it on your floor by hand. If you're using it in a holder, with or without a pole, just dip the lamb's wool into a shallow plastic basin containing some sealer and spread the sealer onto your floor. Keep the lamb's wool wrapped up in a plastic bag as each coat dries to prevent the lambswool from drying out.
When you're finished applying sealer, (and, if it wuz me, I'd apply 90% of the whole gallon spread over a dozen or more coats, store the remaining 10 percent for touch-ups and wash the lamb's wool out in water and store it until the next time you apply sealer to your floor tiles.
The purpose of sealer is to protect your floor from stains, and so your floor is better protected with a thick coat of sealer than a thin one. Also, since any stain will only penetrate through a few coats of sealer at most, you can remove STAINED SEALER from your floor by using most floor finish strippers undiluted. You just put the undiluted finish stripper on a green or white Scotchbrite pad and scrub the stained area until the sealer starts to soften up. The Scotchbrite pad will be abrasive enough to removed the softened sealer, and as you remove the stained sealer you should see the stain disappearing.
But, it's rare for a stain to penetrate any distance through sealer. In 20+ apartments over 20+ years, I think it's happened to me only two or three times or so.
Hope this helps.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Nestor,
Oh my!!! There is a lot we did not know about the type of maintenance that goes into this type of flooring.
For my tiles, listed under the specs section from the Home Depot website is the following:
Color/Finish - Ash Gray Urethane No Wax Low Gloss Vinyl Tile
Urethane wear layer - printed construction
Vinyl no wax wear layer for easy care
Do you think the sealer will not adhere to the tiles because of this? If it doesn't then what do we do? Can the top layer be removed before applying the sealer? I want to be able to protect the floor from moisture issues that may arise since the tiles are in the kitchen.
About the only thing you can do is test it.
If it turns out that it doesn't stick well to your tiles, then your best bet is to just use the flooring the way it was installed, and try to be careful not to spill any water on it.
Peel & Stick should stand up reasonably well to the odd spill. Just clean up those spills as soon as practical.
Okay we will test it out and see what happens. Prayerfully we will have good adhesion between the sealer and the vinyl tiles. If not we will be as careful as possible and add a rug near the kitchen sink.
Thank you so much for all of your help.
BIG hugs from the ATL !!!!!
I'm confused. Why do you need a sealer at all? I put down low gloss peel & stick over 20 yrs ago in my kitchen and so far, so good. I still love it so no reason to replace. Every once in while, I go over it with a mop & glo type product that doesn't leave me with a high shine (even my hardwood floors are low gloss). If a tile gets damaged, which has happened a few times, I just take a hair dryer to it, lift it up and replace.
Easy. My floor has held up for years with virtually NO maintenance since I'm probably the worst housekeeper in the world. Why do you want to make work for yourself? The description says it all.
I would call the manufacturer of the tile and ask. I have never seen a peel and stick that required any finish. I have installed the glue down composition tile and that does need sealer and finish.
Had you asked before installing the tile, most on the board would have said a resounding "no" to installing peel and stick.
@Jaysmom49 - Not sure of the quality of your floors, but my tiles are not stain resistant, scuff resistant, or waterproof. Adding a sealer will protect from spills, scuffs, and stains - a concern of mine considering the size of my family. My kitchen is heavily used and I would like to protect the floors in order to maintain them for a while. True - the floors may hold up for years to come without a sealer. However, I am not sure what will happen in the future so I would like to minimize my risks.This message has been edited. Last edited by: JordanGirl,
@mosternaz - Yes I can see now why some people would feel that way. The peel and stick tiles are a temporary solution to a problem we were having with the original floors that came with our house, which was vinyl sheet flooring. At this point I am just trying to make it all work for the better in the end. The floors have been installed and they look wonderful. However, I just want them to look that way for as long as possible.
Next time I will ask around in order to get advice about home renovations. Thanks for the tip.
Ok, but I still don't get it. Waterproof? As in keeping it from going through to the subfloor? The sheet vinyl under it works as the barrier. While there were only 3 living in the house, my son had a bunch of kids in and out all the time. The floor was pretty cheap considering the budget I was on at the time. Good luck with your new house.
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