In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we explored the basics of cleaning a wide range of surfaces. In continuation of this theme, we will examine the proper methods and protocol for cleaning floor coverings, as well as hard surfaces found in most kitchens and bathrooms. 

To review, there are two cleaning types: traditional wet cleaning and dry soil cleaning. Both methods have their place in restoration, however, depending on the material at hand, one method might be preferable over another. There are some cases in which both means of cleaning will be utilized.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring can be found in any area of a home, building or structure, and can be easily affected by fire, smoke and water. Having said that, vinyl can also be easily washed clean using typical wet cleaning measures. The trouble, however, lies in determining whether or not the affected surface of the vinyl floor is irrevocably damaged. 

To find out, remediators will need to conduct cleaning of vinyl flooring in two phases: an initial cleaning and a follow-up. 

The initial cleaning stage will serve as a precursor to an inspection designed to detect whether or not the vinyl has been affected in such a way that it will need to be replaced. If it is found that the vinyl has incurred permanent yellowing or is irreparably damaged in any way, the vinyl will need to be substituted with new flooring.

Hardwood Flooring 

Hardwood flooring has to be treated on a case-by-case basis, but, generally speaking, is often found to be resilient in light of fire and smoke damage. This is especially true of hardwood flooring sealed with a protective polyurethane coating, as most hardwood floors are. 

Nevertheless, there is a chance that smoke odors can penetrate hardwood through contaminated water that seeps beneath the floorboards. When this happens, it can be a challenging, if not impossible, situation to remedy. As always, your remediation specialist will do what he or she can, based on his or her knowledge and expertise. 

Moreover, if floorboards do become wet from fire suppression efforts and are negatively impacted, drying restoration will need to take place, and promptly. Putting off drying of materials of this type can prove disastrous. The more time that passes, the more damage is likely to occur. At some point, you may find that your hardwood floors are beyond repair. For this reason, drying efforts involving wet hardwood floors should be made a priority. 

Carpeted Flooring

Though you may think fire and smoke affected carpeting must always be replaced, the truth is that many carpets can simply be cleaned and restored to original condition. 

This does not mean, however, that an average carpet cleaner can take on the task. 

Unless the carpet cleaner has the specialized training required, remediation specialists are the experts you’ll want to hire to ensure that your carpets are cleaned and deodorized according to effectual standards. 

Methods like hot water extraction, shampoo, encapsulation and more may be utilized when restoring carpet, however, if the carpet has been affected by contaminated or otherwise infectious material, it may need to be replaced. 

As with anything, fire, smoke and water affected carpets will first need to be inspected before any plan of action can be devised. 

Kitchen and Bathroom Hard Surfaces

Most hard surfaces can be found in kitchens and bathrooms and are often easily cleaned using wet cleaning methods. There are instances, however, when specialty tiles and stones are incorporated in the design of certain kitchen and bathroom wall and flooring components. Depending on what these materials are made of, your restorer will make determinations about which cleaning methods would work best in each situation. 

The following are the most common types of hard surfaces restorers come across, as well as the typical course of action for restoring these types of materials: 

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is easily cleaned using wet cleaning methods, however, it is also the most easily stained by smoke. Producing an unattractive yellow tinge, smoke impacted fiberglass may prove to be irrevocably damaged once it has turned color. After soft scrub cleaning methods are utilized, remaining stains are likely there for good. 

Ceramic Tiles and Tile Grout

Like many other surfaces, ceramic tiles benefit from preconditioning techniques, namely HEPA vacuuming, and can be followed up with an alkaline cleaner or cream. Fortunately, ceramic tiles hold up well when immersed in situations involving smoke and fire and often emerge unscathed. 

The grout between the tiles, however, are another story. In order to remove stains from tile grout, brushes or rotary machines may be used to lift residue, depending on the location of the grout, either wall or floor. 

As far as actual cleaning solutions are concerned, grout can be cleaned with alkaline or acidic cleaners. As in most cases, restorers will opt for the gentler formula first before reaching for any acids. 

Professional Flooring and Hard Surface Restoration Is Vital

Floors and hard surfaces that are affected by fire and smoke should be addressed by professionals, and promptly so if the damage incurred involves water. In the case of flooring, once water has penetrated the surface, property owners could be looking at replacement if they don’t involve remediation assistance quickly. 

As always, never attempt to address remediation concerns on your own, especially those involving water. Allow a remediation technician to do what they are trained to do in the safest, most economical and cost-efficient way possible.