ICS Magazine

Detailing

March 11, 2004


Detailing is something that is often overlooked in hard-floor maintenance, but it is critical to the success of all operations.

Sometimes we convince ourselves that cutting corners to get a job done is acceptable. After all, we can always catch up on the next visit. This procrastination philosophy will always lead to a bad end because even though the intent may be true and honest, the result is detailing missed is work missed.

The chances of you picking up that detailing on the next visit is next to nil. You will always have something that is more pressing. So, that visit becomes the next visit and the next visit becomes the next visit, etc. In reality, the shortcutting of detailing is often the final straw that loses a customer. The best way to avoid this slow spiral into the abyss is to change your philosophy on detailing.

What is detailing?

De•tail•ing (de"ta ling), n. the small, often elaborate features or elements added to a design, construction, etc.

For the most part, technicians think of detailing as something that is done during the salvage/restorative maintenance service procedures. The reason is because the purpose of this service procedure is to return the floor surface to as close to a new condition as possible. This means that the floor should look almost brand new when the job is complete. When the floor is in this state, anything that takes away from that objective will be highly obvious, especially poor detailing.

When the detailing is ignored, soil can be left on the floor to become embedded in the surface, or sometimes encapsulated in floor finish. When the surface gets into this condition, it already too late to plan a preventative maintenance system; you will be squarely in the reactionary maintenance mode. Reactionary maintenance because you are reacting to a poor condition of the floor or a situation usually caused by the unsightly condition.

Sometimes we try to fool ourselves into believing that no one will notice or that it will blend in with the rest of the floor. The reality is that if you don't execute the detailing when performing all of service procedures, over time it will become unsightly, it will also reduce the period of time between the salvage/restorative maintenance procedures.

Extending the Service Procedures
The fact of the matter is that if a technician were to do a little detailing while performing each service procedure in the daily/routine services, it would minimize the detailing required in the periodic and salvage/restorative service procedure. In fact, by performing detailing in this manner, the technician can extend the time between that costly salvage/restorative maintenance. In order to understand this philosophy, you have to understand the impact that detailing has on the floor.

Soiling begins with daily light soiling deposited on the floor. The daily/routine procedures that are performed on the floor regularly are designed to remove these soils. During the dry service procedure, such as dust mopping, soil gets pushed around on the floor. Some of this debris, dirt and grit is deposited along the edges and in the corners.

When this soil gets wet during mopping procedures, it combines with other soils to make a slight soiled edge. When this happens over and over again, the small edge becomes edge build-up. To compound the problem, say you apply floor finish on a monthly basis and you do not clean these edges. Then you have increased the problem by putting encapsulated soil into the edge build-up. This is one of the primary reasons for stripping and refinishing a resilient floor covering.

Preventative Maintenance System
The preventative maintenance system is designed to eliminate this problem at the source and not wait until it is painfully obvious. Remember, the primary objective of floor maintenance is to leave the floor looking its best all the time. This cannot be accomplished without detailing each step of the way. By following the detailing suggestions you will be able to extend the time between cleaning service procedures. Be aware that sometimes this means increasing the daily/routine or periodic frequencies.

Daily/Routine Maintenance
The daily/routine maintenance service procedures are those services that happen on a daily basis or are performed routinely. They usually consist of dust mopping, wet mopping and coating maintenance. Learning and practicing good daily/routine maintenance service procedures will extend the time between periodic scrubs.

Before performing the dust mopping service, detail the corners and along the edges with a angled kitchen broom (with flag-tipped bristles) or a counter brush. If you kick the soil out into the middle away from the edges and corners, it will be much easier to get at and soil will not be left along the edges and corners.

When wet mopping the floor, ensure that you have clean solution water and a clean mop. Soiled water and dirty mop heads do more to contribute to the problem than solve it, leaving more soil on the floor than they are removing. Aggressively agitate heavy soiled areas with the mop to remove soil, all to often we just go over the dirt and do not remove it. In addition to that, be sure to wring the mop out appropriately, leaving too much solution in the mop head almost always leaves a haze because of the amount of soil left on the floor.

Before performing the coating maintenance services, be sure the floor is clean; burnishing a dirty floor helps to embed soil. Also the service procedures will always leave residual dust and debris generated by the high-speed or ultra high-speed equipment. If this dust and debris is not removed from the floor, it may leave a fine powder on the floor that could become a slip hazard. Even if it does not, it will migrate to the edges and corners to contribute to the edge build-up.

Periodic Maintenance Service Procedures
When we talk about the periodic maintenance service procedures, we are generally referring to machine scrubbing with or without applications of floor finish. Machine scrubbing as it applies to floor maintenance agitates the floor surface using a combination of cleaning chemicals and abrasive pads used in conjunction with floor maintenance equipment. After the floor has been cleaned, coatings may be applied.

The biggest issue with the periodic maintenance is that most people will go through the motions, but not remove the soil. The periodic scrub is a critical point in developing good detailing habits. If you select the right scrubbing procedure for the soiling condition, you will actually remove the soil instead of just going over it. If you clean the edges and corners with an edging tool and the appropriate pad, and clean the baseboards with a terrycloth towel during this procedure, it will cost you very little in time and reap huge rewards during the salvage service procedure. The point is, remove the soil; if you don't, where will it go?

Finally, if you realize that you did not do such a good detail job, don't apply finish. Be sure that the floor is clean before application of finish. If you don't, it will result in encapsulated soil, which is the hardest kind of soil to remove.

Salvage/RestorativeService Procedures
When it comes to the salvage/restorative procedures, detailing is critical. In this situation the objective is to restore the floor to an almost like-new condition, removing all old finish and soil along with it. Meticulous detailing with a putty knife and razor scraper should be done when salvage/restorative services are performed. If the detailing is not done during this process, it will noticeably stand out. Unfortunately, some technicians believe that the areas that are not detailed will blend in with the existing floor. Maybe they will, maybe they won't; the point is, this is not the place you want to cut corners. If you have spent a great deal of time getting the floor cleaned to this level, it is ridiculous not to do the detailing.

There have been many occasions where the expected end results of a job are lost due to poor detailing. Don't fool yourself or try to console yourself with the thought that detailing doesn't matter, it does. Detailing improves the appearance of the floor and done correctly extends the time between periodic and salvage/restorative service procedures in the program. Don't think for a minute that detailing or lack of detailing goes unnoticed because, when it comes to the customer, it's all about the details.