Home > MyBetco > Blog

Top 4 Reasons Why Floor Finish Will Not Level Properly

Jun 13, 2023

You feel as though your surface has been adequately prepped and you’ve successfully applied your finish. As you wait for the finish to dry, you notice some irregularity in the leveling properties. Besides creating an unprofessional appearance within a building, an unevenly finished floor surface results in the formation of both smooth patches and rough areas that provide varying levels of traction. Consequently, this disrupts the seamless stride required for walking, effectively turning the floor surface into a potential trip hazard. Read on to learn more about common problems that can cause floor finish to level irregularly and tips to avoid improper leveling.

Poorly Prepped Surface

When coating resilient tile, there is a select process to be followed that ensures your surface is ready for finish application. If you’re performing a top scrub and recoat, it is important that you remove all embedded soil and an even layer of finish. To learn more about proper interim maintenance practices, please click here. If stripping and refinishing, all sealer and finish layers must be completely removed from the floor. To learn more about this process, please click here.

In either case:

  • If using an automatic scrubber for finish removal, Betco recommends a double scrub to more effectively remove contaminants that could interfere with proper leveling.
  • You should always perform a detail rinse with warm water after finish removal
    • Top scrub chemicals and strippers both leave an alkaline residue, over which no floor finish will properly bond or spread.
    • Check the floor with the palm of your hand before coating to ensure there isn’t any residue before applying. If powder comes off on your hand, detail rinse again.
  • The floor must be completely dry before applying finish.

 It is worth noting that if you are finishing new VCT, the tiles likely have been pre-treated with a factory finish, and it should be stripped then thoroughly rinsed before applying your desired finish for best results.

The floor must be free from residues, soils, and any other lingering substance that could prevent finish from leveling. A quality finish job starts with dedicated preparation.

Dirty and Incorrect Application Tools

If you used a classic cleaning mop to prepare your surface prior to finishing it, you might think “a mop is a mop,” and continue using the same tool to apply your finish. When the finish begins to level poorly with raised bumps, lines, and pits from the dirt clinging to your cleaning mop – you’ll have learned a lesson the hard way. Avoid this mistake entirely by utilizing the proper, isolated tools for each step of the process. If you use a fresh applicator mop and bucket during the application process, insert a trash can liner into the bucket to prevent any dust-to-mop cross contamination.

Stay Informed: Take Clean Further with Betco

Subscribe to Betco emails to join thousands of other industry professionals and get the most helpful blog posts, the latest news, new product notifications, and invitations to our events conveniently in your inbox!

Yes, Sign Me Up!

Applying floor finish can be a lengthy process. If you must take a break from applicating and return to the project later, wrap up the mop with plastic or a can liner to prevent the finish from drying and hardening on the mop in your absence, which can severely compromise the rest of your application process. Ensure that the mop being utilized does not have cotton fibers, which may leave streaks or cotton fibers on the surface, resulting in uneven leveling. Simplify your application technique with Betco’s QuickCoat Applicator System, featuring replacement 24” and 18” applicator pads.

Improperly Placed Air Movers

Air movers and blowers are a popular method for expediting the drying process when finishing floors. When used with care, air movers are an excellent and efficient way to make the most of your time and project. However, air movers have the potential to ruin your new surface if used incorrectly. When drying floor finish, an air mover should be raised up slightly and pointed above the surface to circulate the air closest to the finish, rather than blowing air directly on the finish.

The blower’s fans should be set on the lowest power to avoid an intense air current, which remains important even though the fan is not blowing on the finish itself. If your fan is running at high speed and blowing directly on top of your fresh finish, you are guaranteed to ruin the leveling properties of the finish, resulting in thick coverage in some places and no coverage in others.

Extreme Temperatures

The temperature of your floor surface and the finish plays a huge role in how the finish adheres to the surface and how it dries. The lower the temperature of the finish, the slower it flows, making it more difficult for the finish to settle evenly on the surface. Additionally, the temperature of the flooring surface itself must be within proper parameters, or the finish will have difficulty leveling properly.

When the temperature of the finish and the floor are high, the product will dry prematurely, and the integrity of the surface will be compromised in the long run. Comfortable temperature guidelines for applying floor finish run between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the finish and surface should reflect these parameters for best results.

To learn more about Betco’s floor care programs, click here. To take advantage of Betco's comprehensive training course about the life cycle of floor care, please click here. To connect with a floor care expert, please click here.