Likely, the first thing someone sees when entering your facility are your floors, which, depending on how clean or dirty they look, can shape their perceptions of how clean and sanitary the entire building is. Floors that appear dirty, scuffed or dull can convey the impression that the facility’s cleanliness standards are lacking. Studies have shown that facility appearance ratings can drop as much as 75 percent if the floor shine creates a negative impression. And it’s these first impressions people have that are the most important and usually the ones that last.
The fundamentals of floor care include understanding the importance of cleaning your floors for safety, appearance and cleanliness and following a routine maintenance program that helps protect your floor investment and bottom line.
Why Put Floor Finish on a Floor?
Floor finish is used to provide a renewable, restorable, ‘rejuvenate-able’ wear layer on a resilient floor. The built-in, anti-slip properties are most effective if a finished floor is maintained at high shine, and the built-in waxes in the finish are able to yield a higher coefficient of friction to make the floor less slippery and to:
- Add shine and beautify the floor.
- Make the floor easier to clean.
- Protect the floor, thus lowering the overall cost of care and repair.
The common myth that shiny finished floors are more slippery than dull finished floors is generally false. A good floor finish is designed to provide the right coefficient of friction for slip-resistant floors, but only if the finish is cleaned and maintained properly, which results in shiny floors.
Finished Floor Maintenance
Following a regular maintenance schedule and using cleaning products that clean effectively with the least amount of labor is the most efficient way to maintain the look of any finished floor. There are various levels of upkeep – from a daily routine to more interim maintenance that involves cleaning and buffing/burnishing or a deep scrub and topcoat, to restorative maintenance strip and refinish, which gets more costly.
- Dust Mopping: Begin your daily routine with dust mopping to help remove surface dirt so it doesn’t become embedded into the finish. Before you begin, vacuum and pick up any walk-off mats. Avoid oil-based dust mop treatments, which cause streaking and can leave a haze on the floor that attracts even more dirt. For best results, use a clean dry dust mop, a broom and dust pan for soil pick-up, and a putty knife to remove any gum from the floor.
- Damp Mopping: Use a clean mop head, clean water and follow the manufacturer’s recommended dilution ratio for the floor cleaning product to remove more particulates and oily soils and help prevent the floor’s finish from darkening or yellowing from these embedded particles. Avoid overly wet mops, which can leave floors too wet with the cleaner, leaving soil and cleaner residue behind. TIP: For heavily soiled floors, add double the cleaning product to the mop bucket, then rinse after cleaning with fresh water.
- Product Considerations: Get to know your products! Use a floor cleaner that is effective on particulate/inorganic soils and other/greasy soils to help extend the life of the finish or floor surface. Most ‘neutral’ floor cleaners don’t clean both soil types.
- Auto Scrubbing: While not feasible for all facilities, using this type of equipment is more effective and efficient. It removes soil better than damp mopping and can use less chemicals. Most floors should be cleaned with an auto scrubber at least once daily, or more depending on soil buildup. Occasionally, two pass scrubbing is needed for heavily soiled floors, such as salt and other winter soils.
- Low Speed Buffing: Help repair the finish to a smooth shine and delay the need for a recoat with buffing, which is a great option if budget doesn’t allow for a burnisher. For durable finishes use a spray buff to aid “repair,” a mop-on maintainer for efficiency and the appropriate pad for spray buffing.
- High Speed Burnishing: Burnishing helps restore shine and create a glossy appearance, as well as helping to repair imperfections on a floor’s finish that can’t be repaired with daily maintenance. More efficient than low speed buffing, these machines tend to have higher rotation speeds, and more aggressive pads can be used to help repair a worn, dull finish to a smooth shine, delaying the need for a recoat.
When applying floor finish, remember the 20/40 rule: If a coat of finish dries in less than 20 minutes, the finish has been applied too thin. If a coat of finish takes more than 40 minutes to dry, it has been applied too thick.
Safety is another important reason to maintain your finished floors. Two of the top hazards leading to accidents are:
- Contaminants – Water, grease and other fluids can make walking surfaces slippery.
- Improper Use of Floor Mats and Runners – Mats are only effective if properly used, cleaned, and maintained. Old or poorly placed mats can contribute to slips, trips, and falls.
In the realm of finished floor care, floor safety can be improved with effective cleaning for removal of contaminants. Floor mats are one of the most important elements for preventing soil & contaminants from entering a facility.
Floor Hygiene – Cleaning, Sanitizing, Disinfecting
Floor Care hygiene includes cleaning, and disinfecting and it’s important to understand the difference when it comes to your program.
Cleaning is key to the hygiene of your floor because it:
- Removes soils, which can make disinfectants less effective, by removing them from surfaces or objects.
- Physically remove germs from surfaces. Cleaning does not necessarily kill germs.
- Can remove a significant amount of the germ load, making the disinfecting active ingredients more effective at achieving disinfecting.
- Removes dust, molds, irritants and allergens that can trigger asthma symptoms.
Sanitizing is the use of a chemical product or device to reduce the number of germs on surfaces or objects. Sanitizing kills most germs, but not all of them, and does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. Most sanitizers require a clean surface in order to be effective at killing germs. Cleaning & disinfecting, not sanitizing, are most common in floor care.
Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill 99.999 percent of germs on hard, non-porous surfaces or objects. Disinfecting:
- Does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces.
- Kills germs through contact time after the surface has been cleaned.
- Only works on hard, nonporous surfaces. Carpets, upholstery and other porous surfaces cannot be disinfected with a chemical product.
- Is temporary! As soon as a surface has been soiled, germs start growing on it again.
By developing a regular maintenance program, including proper cleaning and disinfection techniques and products, your facility can create an environment with high visual appeal, that is inviting and safe for everyone who steps foot in your facility.