Removing Canals from Retail Store Floors

February 16, 2004
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Major retail stores usually require that high-traffic floors be scrubbed and burnished nightly, and that secondary floor areas, such as department aisles, be scrubbed and burnished weekly. Smaller retail settings require similar services except they can be provided on a weekly, monthly, and even quarterly basis.

In both cases, though, retail store floors should be stripped and refinished at least once a year. The question arises, is this maintenance program truly the most cost-effective? Can different tools and procedures be implemented to make floor maintenance easier and less costly and at the same time preserve the floors' high-gloss appearance longer?

Traditionally, when a VCT (vinyl composition tile) floor is scrubbed with a rotary brush scrubbing pad, small scratches, similar to hundreds of microscopic canals, are cut into the floor's surface. Soil and moisture can become trapped in these small canals. With time, dust from the store's HVAC system and merchandise, as well as soil tracked in by staff and customers, will also gather in these scratches. When this happens, the floor's gloss and luster can be seriously diminished.

"I'm convinced the scratching of the VCT is a real problem in floor care, costing our customers lots of money and making it harder and harder for floor care professionals to maintain their customers' floors. If we can prevent the scratches, we can produce a higher-gloss floor that is less expensive to maintain and can reduce the number of strip and refinish cycles," said Ron Goerne, CEO of Service Resources and a jan/san cleaning expert based in Bloomington, Ill.

Goerne suggests that floor maintenance professionals:

  • Use an automatic dilution system with a hydrogen peroxide citrus cleaner, which leaves little or no residue.
  • Use a cylindrical machine floor scrubber with soft roller brushes. This will clean and polish at the same time and will not scratch the VCT
  • Vacuum the floor dry using a 42-inch squeegee to collect all the solution and rinse water.
  • Apply an ultraviolet infusion floor finish and maintain with a flat mop.

    "Following these procedures, improves the appearance of the floor, reduces the possibility of moisture and residue becoming trapped in the floor, and lowers the long-term labor costs associated with maintaining a store's floor," Goerne said.

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