4 Common Surface Residues Explained for More Effective Removal

Before you can revitalize a floor with a new overlay, polish or seamless coating, built-up residues left behind by old flooring coverings must be cleaned and removed. Proper surface preparation for any flooring job is key to its success, ensuring that the new treatment will bond flawlessly with the substrate surface, creating a strong, long-lasting installation. Knowing the characteristics of each residue material can help in deciding the most effective removal process. Below is an explanation of the most common built-up residues and suggestions for removal.

MASTIC

Mastic is an adhesive with super strong bonding properties commonly used for setting tile. Builders also use mastic to seal windows, walls and ceilings. Mastic gets its name from the mastic tree, as it is derived from its resin droplets. However, mastic is also manufactured synthetically, which is generally less expensive.

  • Available in thin liquid, thick glue or paste form
  • Typically applied with a caulking gun for construction use
  • Used to join panels of concrete or asphalt
  • Quickly forms a permanent bond for a variety of materials
  • Works best on hard, non-porous surfaces
  • Known for heat resistance and durability
  • Can seep into cracks and crevices causing discoloration and general weakening

Key Removal Methods: Grinding, Shaving

THINSET

Made with cement and sand, thinset is an adhesive mortar often used to apply tile to floors, walls and countertops. Thinset gets its name because a relatively thin layer of compound – typically less than 1/4 inch (about 0.5 cm) – is used to bind objects together.

  • Available in powdered or premixed form
  • Typically applied with a notched trowel
  • Can be applied directly to the subsurface
  • Provides faster cure and dry times
  • Easier to use than mortar bed applications
  • Can be a brittle compound that tends to crack if the area shifts
  • Can be treated to increase flexibility, often with an acrylic compound additive

Key Removal Methods: Shotblasting, Buffing with a Swing Machine

EPOXY

Epoxy is a superior glue with high-level bonding power used to secure different types of metal, plastic or wood, and forms a hard layer of protection as well. Composed of petroleum products, epoxy gets its name from polyepoxide, which provides bonding strength. Epichlorohydrin provides its protection ability, as well as its resistance to humidity, moisture and temperature shock.

  • Uses a two-component system that requires mixing for activation just before use
  • Fast drying, strong bonds
  • Create an attractive layer of floor protection that lasts for many years
  • Virtually indestructible

Key Removal Methods: Grinding, Shaving

GLUE

Glue used to install hardwood, bamboo and vinyl floors, as well as carpet can, be made from a variety of components, including modified silicone polymers (MS+), polyurethanes and acrylics.

  • MS+ products generally form a mechanical bond with wood and a chemical bond with concrete, are unaffected by water, typically zero-VOC and eco-friendly
  • Polyurethanes form a chemical bond with wood and a mechanical bond with concrete – a strong, elastic bond that is also unaffected by water
  • Low VOC and generally contains solvents
  • Acrylic adhesives usually consist of polyvinyl acetate emulsions; the polymers fuse, creating what’s called a “particle entanglement” or matrix
  • Highly susceptible to moisture and usually require a flashing off period prior to floor installation

Key Removal Methods: Grinding, Buffing with a Swing Machine

To learn more about each method of surface preparation and removal, read our blog post, Remove Residue Build-Up with 4 Proven Methods.

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One thought on “4 Common Surface Residues Explained for More Effective Removal

  1. Pingback: Remove Residue Build-Up with 3 Additional Methods (Part II) | Runyon Surface Prep Blog

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