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Friday, August 24 2012

Tile Cleaning with Vinegar

Yesterday I receive a phone call from a tile installer at 7:00AM in the morning wanted to ask me questions about tile and grout cleaning. He said that he was doing some work for a woman in the Roseville area installing a ceramic back splash on her countertops and he noticed that her 5 year old ceramic tile and sanded grout were black with yuk. After speaking with him for several minutes about why this had happened to her floor he seemed quite impressed with my knowledge and was only to happy to recommend me to his client.

In our conversation he mentioned that he always uses white distilled vinegar mixed with water to clean tile and grout and he asked me for my opinion concerning his methods. I further questioned him about why and when he used vinegar, I already knew the answer I just wanted him to say it out loud, he told me that it is used right after the installation of the tile. When tile is first installed and grouted there is almost always a hazy substance on the tiles. This substance is called 'grout haze'. It is the excess grout that needs to be removed from the tile floor before the floor can be considered done. Because vinegar is acidic the acid content in the vinegar and water mix will literally dissolve the grout haze making it easy to mop up and remove the floor. It is important to note that once you have dissolved the grout haze the floor should be rinsed with a pH neutral solution so as to NOT leave the floor in an ACID STATE. Trace particles will continue to eat away at the grout and will eventually ruin the floor not to mention shorten its life expectancy.

I explained to my new friend that when he cleans the floor, to remove grout haze, this is entirely different than trying to remove built up grease and grime that has impacted the grout pores. Once it becomes impacted into the pores it is very difficult to remove with a mop and bucket. Grease needs to be broken down with a grease cutter or more commonly an alkaline cleaning substance. The pH factor of grout is around 11.00 to 11.5 making it an alkaline environment. Another reason why you should not use acid on the floor. The tile installer needless to say was impressed with my knowledge and how I was able to break down this complicated subject matter into easy to understand terms.

This got me to thinking about all the times I have been in peoples homes doing estimates and they explain to me that they clean their tile and grout floors with vinegar and that they were told by the tile installer this is what you are suppose to do, not realizing that the tile installer is really NOT cleaning the floor but removing grout haze. Another reason why you should consider the services of a REAL tile & grout cleaning professional. I hope this article was helpful to you.

Until Next Time,

Michael Hull


Posted by: Michael Hull AT 11:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 17 2012

Groupon Again?

Last night I had the privilege of meeting Anthony & Cristina to inspect, test, & measure their tile & grout floor for an estimate for cleaning and sealing. When I initially walked into their home I was impressed with their choice of tile. It was an 18" porcelain tile that looked like travertine. It had many of the characteristics you see in travertine tile with the uneven color patterns, small dimples, etc. I of course knew it was not travertine but to the untrained eye it would probably fool most people.

Anthony told me that that the floor was installed (2) years ago but that the grout lines had never been sealed and they were lost as to how best take of their rather large investment (the floor measured 608 square feet). They had tried many cleaning products with little or no success. Anthony went on to tell me that he hired a cleaning company from Groupon just two months ago to clean about 100 square feet of the kitchen area because he wanted to see what kind of difference a professional cleaner could make. According to Anthony he said that he paid $49.00 for 150 square feet of tile and grout cleaning. He showed me where, just two months ago, the other cleaning company had attempted their cleaning process. I use the word 'attempted' because I could see very little difference between their work and the rest of the floor (the floor was quite dirty). I asked Anthony about one particular grout line that was approximately 24" in length and was extremely dark. He explained to me that the grout came out and the other cleaning company 'caulked' it. They obviously DID NOT use sanded grout, which is what the rest of the floor is made of, nor did they pick the correct color. It had a rubbery texture to it something you might find in a shower or tub. Needless to say it stuck out like a sore thumb.

When I asked him about why he called me and not the same Groupon company here is what he said, "I spent a lot of money on this floor and I want it to last. The other guys just didn't seem to care nor did they do a very good job." Anthony's statement reminded me of an old saying, "Fool me once and you're the fool, fool me twice and I'm the fool." I guess Anthony and Cristina did not want to be fools.

I still believe that Groupon has a place in the market place, but NOT in the cleaning industry. I hope this has been helpful to you.

Until Next Time,

Michael Hull

Posted by: Michael Hull AT 11:10 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 15 2012

A Tale of Three Estimates:

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting Lori from Escalon, California. She called me on Saturday and asked if I would give her an estimate over the phone to clean and seal her travertine floor. I told her that I was more comfortable providing an in home estimate, free of charge, and I explained to her that I always like to INSPECT, TEST, & MEASURE a floor before providing any kind of estimate. I wanted to make sure that I could meet or exceed her level of expectations and we both agreed this was the best course of action. She explained to me over the phone that her once beautiful travertine floor looked dull and lifeless, the grout lines were impacted with black yuck, and the floor had numerous stains and holes that needed to be repaired. She has (4) boys, (1) husband, and (2) very large dogs. I did not meet the husband or the boys but the dogs were BIG! This much family can have a major impact on the floor over time.

While talking to her over the phone she explained to me that she had been given a quote of $300.00 (three hundred dollars) by the local Stanley Steamer Company. I explained to her that the quote seemed to be very low for the amount of square feet she was estimating and if she was still interested in them she should ask them "What are they going to leave out for that price."

On Tuesday I met Lori at her home with her two very large dogs. After testing, measuring, and inspecting the floor with her I came up with an estimate of approximately $1,200.00 (this is a large floor with numerous issues). I also explained to her that it was a (2) day job for me to complete (Stanley Steamer was going to have it done in a few hours). At this point she let me know that Coit had given her an estimate of $2,800.00 (two thousand - eight hundred dollars), and they would do it all in one day. She went on to state that Coit said they would NOT clean the edges or corners of the floor nor would they be liable for the damage to her baseboards. I explained to her that we always tape off the baseboards with 2" painter's tape and we clean the edges and corners by hand to avoid water damage to the baseboards. I also explained to her that our policy is to replace any baseboards that we might ruin while cleaning. Does it happen - yes. Does it happen often - NO, but on rare occasions it does happen.

I can't explain to you why the three estimates are so different other than to tell you that this is common place and happens frequently. As a business owner I know that I can provide my clients why Price, Service, & Quality, but I can not provide my clients with ALL three. I have made the decision to provide my clients with Service & Quality.

Who do you think got the job?

Michael Hull

Posted by: Michael Hull AT 11:47 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 13 2012

Groupon Carpet & Tile Cleaning

Recently one of my competitors decided to run a Groupon ad for cleaning carpet and tile & grout. This same individual ran a Groupon ad back in February according to his Yelp reviews. If you are not familiar with Groupon you can read about by googling groupon or reading my other blogs.

Here is his ad: $59.00 whole house, one story, up to 1,100 square feet (a $200.00 value); $99.00 whole house two story up to 2,500 square feet (a $350.00 value); $39.00 for 125 square feet of tile & grout cleaning (a $150.00 value). Must be used within six months of purchase and can not be combined with any other offers. In the fine print it read NOT VALID FOR HEAVILY SOILED AREAS {bold & italics added for emphasis}.If you were to survey 100 carpet cleaners and asked the question "How many of your clients have heavily soiled areas," the answer would be ALL - 100%.

One person asked him this question. "Does this deal include pre-treatment?" His response, "Pre-treatment is EXTRA, about $10.00 a room depending on staining." In case you are wondering pre-treatment is the application of a cleaning solution before the hot water extraction or steam cleaning. When potential clients point to the low cost carpet cleaners and ask me what is the difference between me and them I always like to ask the question "Mr. Smith, what do you think they leave out in order to get their price that low?" In this case it is the SOAP. According to one Yelp review that I looked at they also DID NOT pre-vacuum the carpets which goes against his IIRC certification that he proudly displays on his website.

Another person asked this question, "I have approximately 600 square feet of tile & grout how long would it take to clean this much floor?" His answer, "About 2 hours." Folks, it usually takes me about 40-60 minutes to prepare the floor before I can start cleaning not to mention my set up time, clean up time, and touch up time. By the way, his time frame included sealing the grout lines. The question I ask again is what is he leaving out.

As I have mentioned in the past I believe that there is a place in the market for Groupon, but I do not believe the cleaning industry is a good fit. In order to make the offer look appealing the cleaning company will usually lie about their prices, services, or quality of work. I said it before "If something looks too good to be true then it probably is."

If you have questions or comments about this article please use the contact page below.

Michael Hull


Posted by: Michael Hull AT 11:45 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 03 2012

Craigslist Carpet Cleaning:

Yesterday I was browsing Craigslist in search of some exercise equipment. I have purchased several pieces in the past and have always gotten and good deal from some very nice people. My curiosity lead me to the household services page to see what other cleaners may be offering the public, and here are two listings that I found. These are EXACT quotes"

"DO YOURSELF A GREAT FAVOR stay away from the Mean Steam Carpet Cleaning Company. Worst carpet cleaning I have ever experienced. Found out later the guy is not licensed not bonded and uses cheap products. BBB is on to him. Join in to shut this sham down!!!"

"A warning to all customers. Check out the background of non licensed carpet cleaners. I was ripped off by a cleaner who destroyed my carpets using what was cheap products and inferior equipment. Beware of the Mean Steam van. BBB is on to this unlicensed, unbonded scam artist!!!"

As I mentioned earlier these are exact quotes from an unhappy customer.  I believe this person gives everyone some good advice and that is to check out cleaners before you hire them. This is one of the reasons why we are so transparent here at Liberty Floor Solutions. We want people to check us out.

Michael Hull

Posted by: Michael Hull AT 11:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
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We provide professional tile, grout, carpet cleaning services for home and businesses in the following California cities: Sacramento, West Sacramento, Elk Grove, Wilton, Galt, Lodi, Stockton, Laguna West, Rancho Murieta, Mather, Rancho Cordova, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Rescue, Cool, Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Antelope, Roseville, Lincoln, Loomis, Rocklin, Natomas, Citrus Heights, and Slough House. We will travel to other areas.


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