Active Ingredients: Ingredients which promote claimed results. This term is commonly associated with products registered with the E.P.A., where the active ingredients are those constituents that provide the claimed pesticidal properties, e.g., insecticide, rodenticide, bactericide, etc.


Anionic Detergent: A material which carries a negative charge. Most soaps are anionic, as they combine fatty acids and an alkali. Oleate Soap, Amine Soap, Sodium Soap and combinations of the three are frequently used in cleaners.


Antifoam: Any material added to a floor polish to control foam. Most commonly used substances are silicone emulsions.


Asphalt Tile: A flooring material made of asbestos fibers, pigments and inert fillers bound together with an asphalt or resin binder. Ingredients are mixed, heated, then rolled out in sheets and cut to size. Asphalt tile is also furnished in a grade designated as greaseproof. The use of oils and solvents should be avoided on all types. One possible way to distinguish asphalt file from vinyl asbestos, which is also hard and brittle at normal temperatures, is to rub the file in an inconspicuous spot with a rag dampened with petroleum naphtha. Any color transfer from the file to the cloth indicates that the tile is asphalt instead of vinyl asbestos. Rubber tile will also show some color transfer, and can be indented with a fingernail.


Biodegradable: Capable of being decomposed or broken by biological organisms or action. Generally, it refers to detergents and cleaners.


Black Marking: Black marks left on a floor finish caused by rubber being abraded from rubber heels of shoes.


Carnauba: A hard wax obtained from the leaves of the Carnauba palm tree. This wax is emulsifiable and yields a glossy, durable, buffable film when property formulated in aqueous floor waxes. Carnauba wax is graded in five categories. Only types I and 2 are used appreciably in floor waxes because of their lighter color. Types 3 through 5 come from more mature leaves and are darker in color.


Ceramic Tile: A flooring material made from a mixture of special clays and colorants that are fused together at high temperature into a hard brick like or porcelain substance. Sometimes coated with a thin film of vitreous material called glazing.


Concrete: A flooring material made from a mixture of sand, gravel, Portland cement and modifying additives, which react with water to form a hard rock-like substance. Portland cement is the ‘glue’ which holds the other materials together. Hardening occurs through hydration of these materials.


Cork Tile: A flooring material composed of ground cork with or without resins that is compressed and heat cured into the finished product. It is chosen mostly for its beauty and sound deadening properties. Cork is best maintained with organic solvent-based products such as Traffic Wax paste or liquid.


Defoamer: A substance used to reduce foaming due to agitation. Defoamers include silicone fluids and organic phosphates.


Detergent: A chemical used for cleaning surfaces, which may possess various properties such as surface wetting, soil emulsification, soil dispersion or soil suspension. A type of chemical which possesses surfactant properties, including surface wetting, soil dispersion.


Dust Mopping: A maintenance method used to remove dust from floors with a dry or specially treated mop.


Emulsifier: A chemical agent used to suspend one incompatible material in another.


Emulsion: A stable mixture of water and water-insoluble materials in a finely divided state by means of one or more surface-active agents, such as soap or synthetic emulsifiers.


Factory Finish: A temporary coating applied to flooring material during manufacture for ease of manufacturing and protection during shipment and installation. It is recommended that this coating, often referred to as mill finish, be removed before being treated with a polish.


Fisheye: Small round surface imperfections in a polish film caused by localized differences in surface tension, induced convection, or by the wet film receding from incompatible entities in the product or on the substrate. Oil, silicone, or other hydrophobic materials are the common causes of fisheyes.


Floor Polish: A temporary coating that enhances the appearance and protects the substrate to which it is applied. Also called Floor Finish or Floor Wax.


Floor Sealer: A temporary or permanent coating applied to a floor before applying finishing coats to help fill voids and pours in the floor surface. Fewer finish coats are necessary because fewer products are absorbed by the floor, resulting in a more uniform appearance. Floor sealers might be necessary to promote adhesion of finish coats.


Gloss: A combination of visual perceptions which promote the appearance of wetness. Terms used when describing gloss include:

  • Depth – How deep or thick the surface appears.
  • Clarity – The lack of haziness, cloudiness, or a milky appearance.
  • Uniformity – The lack of unevenness.
  • Reflectance – The ratio of reflected versus incidental light (shine).
  • Distinctness of image – The lack of distortion that the surface causes to reflected images.
  • Sheen – The amount of low active reflectance.
  • Hue – The amount of bluish coloration promoting the perception of depth seen in clear films.
  • Hardness – An expression of the concentration of inorganic salts in water which prevents effective cleaning and germicidal action. Hardness is measured in ppm (parts per million) calculated as calcium carbonate’ (CaCO.).


Linoleum: A flooring material composed of mixture of oxidized linseed oil, resin, and various fillers such as sawdust, ground cork, mineral filler and coloring material. It is cured for several weeks in specially heated buildings. Linoleum is soft, porous, and tends to discolor and become more porous when subjected to amines and alkaline strippers and cleaners.


Marble: A flooring material composed of a form of limestone hard enough to be polished. The purest grade is called statuary marble and is used by sculptors. A softer, more porous version called travertine is usually used for floors. Travertine marble is known to harden on exposure to air. Marble can be damaged by alkaline cleaners, soaps, and acids, and also stains easily.


Mill Finish: A finish applied by the file manufacturer to resilient floor tile which must be removed for proper sealing and finishing.


No Wax Flooring: A broad class of flooring materials, usually having a clear organic wear layer such as urethane over a vinyl backing. It is normally textured and designed for minimum maintenance.


OSHA: Acronym for the Occupational Safety and Health Act, a federal act passed in 1970. OSHA is designed to provide every working man and woman in the nation with safe and healthful working conditions. OSHA provides the inspection standards and an enforcement program to accomplish these goals.


pH: The measurement symbol used to express the degree of acidity or alkalinity. A pH of 1 expresses an extremely acidic condition, while a pH of 14 is highly alkaline. The pH scale runs from less than 1.0 to 14, with neutrality centered at pH 7.0.


Resilient: Capable of withstanding shock or pressure without permanent deformation or rupture. Asphalt, vinyl, and linoleum are resilient flooring materials.


Resilient Flooring: Flexible flooring materials including asphalt tile, cork, linoleum, no wax, rubber, seamless floors, vinyl, and vinyl asbestos.


Rubber: Flooring materials made up of natural or synthetic rubber which is rolled and heat cured into a final product.


Slip Resistance: The drag noticed when walking on a floor that results in safer footing, or the amount of resistance to slipping.


Sodium Hydroxide: A caustic substance used in the manufacture of detergents and soap.


Sodium Silicate: A catalyst for soaps and detergents.


Sodium Xylenesulfonate: A water softener used in detergents.


Stability: The ability to resist change in physical or performance properties due to time or environmental stresses such as freezing, thawing, heat, or microbial attack. Emulsion floor care products are considered stable if changes caused by aging under expected environmental extremes will not affect product safety, product performance, or be detectable by the consumer for the duration for the product’s expected shelf life.


Stripper: A product used to remove coatings from floor substrates. Different types are needed for water-based coatings than those for solvent-based coatings.


Stripping: A maintenance method for removal of floor finishes. After the stripping operation, the floors are rinsed thoroughly before applying a fresh coat of floor polish.


Surfactant: A contraction of the words ‘surface active agent.’ This is the general name given to the type of surface active agents used in cleaners. The surfactant reduces surface tension and provides improved wetting, emulsifying, penetrating, and dispersing properties. There are three types of surfactants: anionic, cationic, and non-ionic.


Terrazzo: A polished surface floor consisting of marble or granite chips mixed with a Portland cement matrix. The mixture is tossed onto the floor, leveled, and allowed to cure for a period of 5 to 6 days. Then, the surface is ground with an abrasive stone grinder and polished. Use of harsh acids and alkalis should be avoided. It is also prepared in factories as finished slabs.


Vinyl Flooring: A flooring material made up of polyvinyl chloride and plasticizers. Pigments are added for color. Vinyl flooring is usually flexible, fine textured, and appears to be relatively non-porous.


Wetting: Ability of a floor finish or cleaner to spread over substrate during application.