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Managing Hard Floor Maintenance

December 14, 2000
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Floor coverings come in many categories and classifications. Chances are that you will have one or more of them in any one given facility. Concrete in the warehouse, stone in the lobby, clay/masonry in the restroom and kitchen, wood in the boardroom, specialty in the telecommunications areas and resilient in storage, lunchrooms and hallways. These surfaces require maintenance to prolong their life, provide cleanliness for health and sanitation reasons, improve appearance and provide a safe and stable surface to walk on. It’s ultimately the responsibility of the building owner, or the property/facility managers to ensure the desired objectives are met.

As property owners and managers, you are generally responsible for all things within your buildings and are extremely busy. You rely on the expertise of the individuals or companies you contract or hire to perform the services requested. You also look at these people to provide you with professional information or consultation regarding their areas of expertise. It’s no different when it comes to hard floor surfaces. You want to know that the information received is correct and that the work will be done in a professional manner.

Staffing

Floor maintenance traditionally falls under the umbrella of cleaning responsibilities and is generally provided by the in-house cleaning staff or janitorial service company. The success or failure of a cleaning company or department is contingent on the staff. Good managers, supervisors and technicians all contribute to the whole team effort. If you are one of the fortunate ones and have a wonderful staff, then it’s most likely the management team understands floors, the importance of key personnel selection, education and training.

Because the financial investment in some floor coverings can be considerable, it’s imperative to protect that investment by instituting a good floor maintenance program. When designing a program, consider your objective, environment, traffic conditions, congestion, time factors and budget. Sometimes after you figure everything out you find that your budget may not support your objective, you can then adjust the services and their frequencies to meet it.

The Life Cycle

The life cycle of floor maintenance is divided into four maintenance classifications: initial, daily/regular, periodic and restoration/salvage. Understanding these classifications and how they interact with the whole program can help you to develop a more cost effective program. Having the simpler services done more frequently can often extend the time between doing the more intensive services. Conversely, extending the time between the simple services can leave the floor looking poorly all the time.

Directly after installation, maintenance must begin. Initial maintenance is necessary to remove soil left from installation. It may be include dust mopping and wet mopping, but in some situations removal of factory seal and applications of seal and/or finish may be necessary. This is generally fundamental maintenance and requires minimal training in chemicals and equipment for the technicians or cleaning staff. However, when we talk about periodic or restoration/salvage maintenance, we’re discussing more involved procedures that require more knowledge and skill to perform. These more aggressive services are necessary to remove difficult, imbedded and encapsulated soils. The level of difficulty can be compounded when considering the many different types of floor coverings that may be in your building(s).

The Services

The service functions are the building blocks of your hard floor maintenance program. These functions are like the alphabet in which you can build many procedures. They consist of service preparation, area preparation, dry service, wet service (solution application, agitation, solution removal and detailing), coating application, polishing, buffing or burnishing, and post preparation. The service procedures associated with basic hard floor maintenance are; dust mop, wet mopping, condition/restoration and burnish, scrubbing, scrub and recoat, strip and refinish. Specialty services are advanced services that go beyond general maintenance and include; concrete sealing, stone grinding or polishing and wood floor sanding and refinishing.

Preventative Maintenance

A preventative maintenance program is one that can keep your floors looking great and extend their life expectancy. Unfortunately, an inappropriate program can cause the floors to look dull and dirty and in extreme cases will damage the floor coverings. The key to a successful program is to understand the overall floor, identify areas of difficulty and address what needs to be done. That’s why selecting the right cleaning company or staff manager is so important. When interviewing potential managers or contractors, make sure they have knowledge of the types of floor coverings in your facility and have some experience in maintaining them.

As a building owner or property manager you may want to learn more about the types of floor coverings in your facility. In addition, you may want to get some basic training in fundamental floor maintenance to have a better understanding of the services and procedures involved. Once you understand floor maintenance methodology, then you’ll be able to determine what’s being done and what needs to be done. Although certification for hard floor maintenance does not currently exist, there will be association certification offered in the near future. This will certainly make it a lot easier to determine if an individual has knowledge about hard floor maintenance.

Managing hard floor maintenance may not be easy for you, but with a little education you can feel more confident about your facility and how it is being taken care of. Armed with information, you may find that managing does not have to be such and arduous task. In fact, you may find it more pleasurable showing off the floors in your building when you know that they are being taken care of properly.

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