Wardall and his team used a 24-inch planetary grinder with four heads to polish the bulk of the floor. Around walls and columns he used a number of smaller grinders to achieve polishing in these tight areas. The polishing work on the floor took 10 days.
Wardall polished the main floor to an 800 grit and the altar and steps to a 1,500 grit using iShine flexible polishing pads. "These pads ride on top of the floor - on top of the crème - so you can polish the surface more evenly and still retain the topography of the floor," Wardall says. His first time using the pads didn't come without a hitch, however. Wardall says he typically polishes a floor to a 400 grit, applies his dye and densifier, then finishes out his polishing. When he tried his usual technique with the iShine pads he got heavy scratching on the floor after applying the dye and densifier. With help from his distributor, Wardall learned from the polishing pad manufacturer to apply the densifier after the 100 grit step and dye at the end of the project before polishing the last grit step.
Wardall used a lithium silicate densifier to harden and protect the floor. Lithium silicates are the newest of the densifying technologies and are made up of smaller molecules that allow for greater depth of penetration than sodium- or potassium-based densifiers. Wardall says clean-up with lithium silicate densifiers is often easier than the alternatives. "If you're using a sodium silicate densifier you have to thoroughly rinse the surface or you run the risk of your surface turning white, which can be a bear to remove," he explains. "As long as you don't over-apply the lithium silicate densifier, any whitening that occurs can be wiped, brushed or burnished off with little trouble."
Wardall left the congregation with a floor that will outlive carpeting many times over. The maintenance program he established for the church is relatively low key - they will maintain the floor with a floor scrubber and Wardall expects it will need to be burnished every few years to bring back the vibrant colors. Upon turning over the project, Wardall says the planning committee made special note of the fact that the floor isn't slippery although it looks like it is. Both the congregation and the contractor are pleased with the end results.
"Every year there is a project for me that really sets the standard, that stands apart from the other work we have completed. I am proud of the work we have done for St. Francis of Assisi and hope they will enjoy this work for many years to come," Wardall says. "The benefits of this system are numerous, and I expect the success of this floor will help fuel continued growth in the polishing market for an indefinite period of time."