Grocery Store, Floor Tile & Pavement Sealer Guidelines

Attach these guidelines to contractors or bid submittals to directly provide the property owner or store manager a format that should be followed to reduce or eliminate tile discoloration and tracking when sealing shopping centers and grocery stores.

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By Mark McLeod

One of the topics that came up at my recent seminar at National Pavement Expo was a problem most sealcoaters have faced: tile discoloration and tracking when sealing shopping centers and grocery stores.

Unfortunately the blame usually falls on the contractor and/or the sealer manufacturer. I have put together for the pavement maintenance industry a set of guidelines that could be attached to contracts or bid submittals for these types of sealing projects. These guidelines should directly provide the property owner or store manager a format that should be followed to reduce or eliminate such an occurrence.

To: Property owners- store managers

From time to time, there appears to be a syndrome that appears in some grocery stores where tiles are stained. This apparently happens from foot traffic and grocery store cart traffic bringing in a foreign substance from the parking lot. The syndrome generally appears on lots that had been sealed with asphalt-based or refined coal tar pavement sealers and where lighter-colored tile floors are in place.

Everyone would like to blame this situation on the pavement sealer but let's look at all the factors.

  • The floor tile chosen for grocery store application should be resistant to gas, oil, tar, anti-freeze, deicers, asphalt-based and refined coal tar-based sealers, and crack sealants
  • The floor tile should be set in place with a latex-based adhesive, not black asphaltic or solvent-based mastic
  • Manufacturer's specifications on floor care should be followed for maintaining the floor. This could include two coats of foundation and three coats of wax
  • The floor maintenance schedule should be upgraded at entrances and exits to a weekly or monthly schedule
  • Carpets or rugs should be placed so that the customers are not tracking wet foreign substances onto tile
  • Deicers and amounts of salts and sand should be monitored carefully. Some caustic deicers will eat into the wax protecting the floor against chemical intrusion
  • Cleaning and sweeping of the lots is an important factor. Oil, gas and anti-freeze lying on the parking lot can cause softening problems which, although rare, can occur
  • Extra care and provisions must be made when repairs and cracksealing maintenance are in front of the store. Full-depth patching or infrared patching in these areas might be a better option
  • Cracksealing should be covered with a blotter to prevent tracking in these storefront areas
  • Proper weather conditions are necessary when sealing any property. Rain, fog, and cold retard curing and can be a mitigating factor in tracking. Follow the manufacturer's written application specifications
  • Use proper sealer and additives to minimize problems
  • Do not over dilute sealer
  • Allow proper curing time before opening to traffic

As you can see from the above, there are many factors involved in this potential problem. The best way to prevent this from happening is to follow the above recommendations and contact your floor maintenance professional to remedy this problem should it occur.

Contractors and manufacturers alike need support when these problems happen; this can put the maintenance of the floor back to their floor professional and ease any burden you may incur of blame. The use of additives is very critical when doing these types of projects. Some are not only a hardener but that will help the curing process and make your sealer black and abrasion tough. If you are sealing without additives give your manufacturer or distributor a call; they can tell you where to get the right additives for your sealer.

Maintenance Inc.'s Mark McLeod presented "Understanding Sealer Additives: How to Do More Work, Better" at January's National Pavement Expo. Maintenance Inc., has been in business more than 75 years and manufacturers additives including FSA, FSA-AE, FASS-DRI, and TARGEL-PLUS. He can be reached at 800-892-6701 or at