Restoring a Linoleum Floor is not that hard.
Lets get down to the details. Your old linoleum floor is in rough shape. It has a bunch of fine scratches, a few gouges and has lost it’s lustre and pizazz.
Its always best to start with a proper cleaning of a floor with plenty of elbow grease and a coarse cloth or even a very fine abrasive pad. Using the typical linoleum cleaners at full strength rather than the typical one ounce per gallon will do an amazing job of cleaning a floor of all its accumulated dirt and grime.
First thing everyone trying to restore a linoleum floor should verify is that the floor is actually linoleum and that it is not vinyl or laminate flooring. How would you know? It would be best to take some sandpaper, the finer the better and go to a spot that would be hidden by furniture or appliances and begin a fine sanding of the area. If the color layer on the flooring is not wearing through and has color at least halfway through it’s thickness it is likely to be linoleum. Ideally, if there is a spare or loose piece of the flooring somewhere it would be linoleum if it has a grid of jute as the backing. The flooring is very pliable and has a pleasant natural odor rather than a chemical or plastic petroleum smell. One of the last clues that might help tell what the material is, would be to see if it installed in a width of greater than 79″ because linoleum is so heavy that the rolls can only be two meters wide.
Once we are sure the flooring is linoleum, we can go about lightly sanding the floor by hand, ideally with a scrub pad or very fine sandpaper, the whole time paying careful attention not to spot-sand too aggressively in any one place. An area that may have been worn under a desk chair may take a bit of elbow grease to get the scratches leveled out, but true linoleum if carefully and uniformly abraded will prepare beautifully for refinishing. The process is actually a form of screening and polishing. Industrial floor machines can also be used on linoleum to remove existing finishes, remove scratches and nicely prepare a floor for refinishing but extreme care must be used not to burn through the color on the flooring.
Once the floor is leveled out with all the scratches gone and presenting all as the same uniform color, the gloss needs to be restored. One last item that may need attention would be to fix small gouges and if they are bad enough the only way to do that well would be to scrape some of the color layer from the flooring and to make a repair paste by mixing that dust with white carpenters glue. Once pasted in, leveled off and left to dry, the patch can be gently sanded prior to refinishing.
The finishing is usually best done with a sponge mop or a spreader bar and spreading and applying thin uniform coats is always the best bet.
Be sure to check our other post on applying TopShield and Top Shield 2.