Vinyl floors are usually made with vinyl tile, an inexpensive type of tile that can withstand wear and is very easy to clean. Vinyl tile is prized by do-it-yourself homeowners who want to tile kitchens or bathrooms. It is related to linoleum and comes in a wide variety of colors and textures. Vinyl floors only rarely need to be sealed, but can benefit from stripping or homemade cleaning solutions.
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The primary difference between linoleum and vinyl is that linoleum floors need to be refinished at regular intervals, whereas vinyl floors are more durable and need only occasional resealing when the sealant wears down and the tile is in danger of being scuffed or torn. This difference between polishes and actual sealants is important. A polish is designed only to add a protective layer between the vinyl and the dirt and oil that accumulate on it. While polishing or finishing vinyl floors can make the floor last longer, adding too many coats can dull the floor's shine and give it ugly streaks.
Sealers are different from polishes and are actually designed to keep liquids and dirt particles from sinking into the vinyl. All vinyl should be sealed when it is first installed, and this initial seal can last many years, especially if the vinyl is polished regularly. The floor should only be resealed when the coating is starting to wear away in places. Seals, polishes, and finishers are often used interchangeably, and some polishes do have sealing effects while other products labeled finishers are actually sealants, so be sure to carefully inspect products if you decided to buy them.
Strip and clean your vinyl before applying sealant. It is important to remove the dirt and oil from the tiles so they do not become trapped underneath the sealer. Try combining about a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of hot water, and using it to mop your floor. If you want to try a more complicated recipe, use 1 tbsp of dish washing soap, 2 tbsp. of ammonia, and a gallon of water instead. Be sure to mix thoroughly, and clean the floor with pure water afterward to remove any smell or residue. Once the floor is dry, you can proceed with sealing.
To make a homemade vinyl sealant, combine 1 oz. of beeswax with 8 oz. of linseed oil. Heat the mixture and stir it until the beeswax is fully melted--the mixture can be made in a jam jar or similar container. You can also combine this mixture with hot water if you want to lessen its strength. This recipe is designed to be a sealant and stay on the vinyl for an extended period of time, although it will probably not last as long as commercial sealers.