Spend Time, Not Money, for Better Looking Floors

February 17, 2003
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We recently evaluated the hard surface floors at an airport that was receiving complaints about dull and grungy floors. Gloss readings taken on the floor throughout the airport produced results ranging from mirror-like to sandpaper reflectance. We asked how the floors were maintained and were astounded by the answers. In the worst looking areas the maintenance staff was stripping and putting down four to six coats of finish every three to four weeks. They could not afford to maintain their floors this way – no one can.

The most cost-effective way to maintain beautiful floors is to have a maintenance program. The best program is a marriage of chemicals (finish, cleaners, maintainers, etc.), mechanical tools (floor pads, brushes, applicators), procedures and equipment that form what we call best practices. The maintenance program consists of four separate procedures:
  • Strip
  • Protect
  • Clean
  • Restore

    It is very important all four procedures get the attention required. If you cheat on one procedure, you pay for it in the others. Protection and cleaning require frequent attention – hourly, daily or weekly. Restoring (spray clean/buff, scrub and coat) is done on a bimonthly or quarterly schedule. Lastly, stripping and recoating is done as seldom as possible, once a year or once every other year if traffic permits.

    Why not forego all the daily maintenance and do more restoring and stripping? It costs up to 20 times more to restore a floor than to clean it. It costs up to 100 times more to strip a floor than to maintain it. Daily maintenance is the most cost-effective way to obtain the best looking floor possible.

    What are daily maintenance procedures? Start outside your building entrance. Eighty percent of all dirt comes in through the main entrance. Up to 24 pounds of dirt can be tracked in by just 1,000 people coming through an entrance every day over a 20-day work month. Without adequate matting, 42 percent of a floor’s finish can be removed within the first six feet of an entrance after only 1,500 people have walked in. It can cost more than $500 to remove one pound of dirt after it has been tracked into a building. A high quality matting system consisting of a scraper mat and a carpet mat 30 feet or longer can remove up to 100 percent of the dirt from shoes.

    Daily maintenance procedures include:

  • Clean Mats
  • Dust Mop
  • Damp Mop or Auto Scrubbing
  • Sweeping
  • Burnishing

    Clean Mats
    Scraper matting can be maintained by shaking, vacuuming or washing with a hose. Dirt and water can be removed from carpet matting by shaking, vacuuming or extracting just as you would a carpet.

    Dust Mop
    Hard surface floors are dust-mopped regularly to remove soil, sand and litter. This procedure is used to maintain appearance and prevent damage to the floor from soil and sand. An oil-free dusting system is used to prevent floor surface contamination.

    Contamination from oil can cause soiling or yellowing as well as slippery conditions. Equipment and supplies include a dust mop, dustpan and broom and a putty knife. Pick up any liquid spills and allow the floor to dry then sweep soil and litter from corners and crevices into the center of the aisle. Remove gum and any other caked-on soil with the putty knife. Dust mop the floor and unload the mop at a convenient location. Dispose of soil and litter using a broom, dustpan and trash container.

    Damp Mop
    Hard surface floors are damp mopped to remove liquid or dried on spills, wet tracked-in soil and other dried-on soil not removed by dust mopping.

    Equipment and supplies include a mop bucket and wringer, cleaning chemical and “wet floor” signs. Fill the bucket half full with ready-to-use cleaner. Place wet floor signs to stop traffic. Wet the mop and wring it out, then mop up spills and soil. Rinse out the mop and mop the floor again, if needed. Remove the wet floor signs when the floor is completely dry. Be sure to change the solution frequently when mopping heavily soiled areas.

    Auto Scrubbing
    Hard surface floors are cleaned to remove liquid or dried-on spills, wet or dry tracked-in soil and other soil not removed by mopping. Equipment and supplies include an automatic scrubber, cleaning pad, floor cleaner, a mop and a bucket with a wringer.

    Install clean pads on the automatic scrubber and fill the scrubber with cleaning solution. Scrub the floor with pads down, squeegee down, vacuum on and solution feed on. Pick up solution trails and detail mop floor edges and corners using an appropriate cleaner in the mop bucket. Rinse out pads and mop, and connect a battery charger to the scrubber when the job is finished.

    Sweeping
    Hard floors and carpets are swept to pickup sand, soil, spilled substances and litter. This procedure is normally conducted on an “as needed” basis to maintain a clean, safe floor surface. The procedure is quick and quiet using wiper blades, not brushes, to deposit soil and litter into special receptacles within the sweeper.

    Equipment and supplies include the sweeper and a trash container. Walk through area sweeping up soil and litter, as required. Empty the sweeper into trash receptacle when needed. To keep the sweeper clean, immerse it or its parts in general purpose cleaner as necessary. Rinse in clean water and wipe dry.

    Burnishing
    Hard surface floors are burnished to improve the gloss and image clarity of the floor finish. Burnishing repairs the floor-finish coating and produces a smooth, mark-resistant surface.

    Ultra high-speed buffers are available in cord electric, battery electric and propane models. Add an ultra high-speed pad and a dust mop and you are ready to proceed.

    Install a clean pad on the buffer. Be sure to dust mop the floor prior to buffing. Buff the floor using straight, overlapping passes. Keep the buffer moving while it is on, and dust mop the floor when finished.

    Special Note: Damaged pivot areas and black marks can be cleaned and repaired by applying spray buff cleaner and polish with a trigger spray bottle to the floor prior to buffing. Stubborn marks can be removed using a hand pad.

    The next question is, how often should these maintenance procedures be performed? See the chart for our recommendations.

    If the aforementioned airport adopts a daily maintenance procedure, many of the problems concerning the appearance of their floors will likely disappear.

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