Importance of Floor Maintenance
The key to achieving clean, attractive-looking floors is regular maintenance (including using mats, mopping floors, etc.) and choosing the right floor cleaning products and supplies. The following methods can help keep finished floors looking great all year round.
Floor Matting Program
Every floor care system starts at the door. Proper matting is the first step to keep grit and moisture off the floor.
- Outside Matting – Gross soil/moisture knock-off
- Foyer/Entryway – Further soil knock-off
- Inside Matting – Final moisture removal
Dust mopping is the second most important step, keeping floors free of the dirt particles that can damage the finish and diminish the shine. Dust mopping should be performed daily or as often as necessary to keep grit off the floor.
- Remove larger debris
- Make damp mopping more effective
- Always dust mop BEFORE damp mopping/auto scrubbing
- Use a clean dust mop
- DO NOT USE oil-based dust mop treatments
Damp Mopping or Auto-Scrubbing
Removes particulate and oily soil and prevents the finish from darkening or yellowing from embedded soil. Damp mopping should be performed daily or as often as necessary if the soil load is extremely heavy.
- Damp-mop area daily with a clean mop to remove soil. Mop water should be changed when the water is dirty. Damp mopping picks up the particulate soil that causes the most damage to a finish.
- Follow manufacturer’s recommended dilution
- Use a clean mop head
- Start with clean water – change solution as needed
- Cleaning with an auto-scrubber is a more effective method to clean floors if one is available. Because auto-scrubbing is more effective and more aggressive, it only requires half the amount of floor cleaner. Auto-scrubbing is more effective for 2 key reasons:
- More aggressive agitation, with pads or brushes.
- Vacuum pick-up of cleaning solution & soil, similar to an ‘extraction’ from the pores of the hard surface floor. This is a key benefit over damp mopping.
- Spills should be spot cleaned up as soon as possible to avoid liquids standing on the floor that can damage the finish.
Low Speed Buffing
Low-speed buffing floors diminishes the surface scratches revealing a fresher, flatter surface. The surface will reflect light more evenly and give off a shinier glow. Buffing will repair the finish to a smooth shine and delay the need for a recoat.
- Always clean floor first
- For durable finishes, use
- A spray buff to aid ‘repair’. This helps fill in the scratches and abrasion marks to achieve a smooth surface.
- A mop-on maintainer for efficiency. Provides same ‘fill-in” benefit, but is a more efficient way to apply the spray buff.
- Choose pad appropriate for spray buffing
High Speed Burnishing
High-speed burnishing is much more efficient than low-speed buffing in repairing the finish to a smooth shine and delay the need for recoat. Normal burnishing removes 1/20th of a layer of finish by “shaving” off enough finish to smooth and remove light scratches which could the cause be of a “dull” looking floor.
- Always clean floor first
- Burnish frequency should match the requirements of the finish you have chosen for your facility
- Choose appropriate pad
Scrub and Recoat (Top Scrub/ Deep Scrub)
Shine restoration when buffing/burnishing is not enough for a new finish look!
Top Scrub/Deep Scrub Considerations:
- Pad selection and duration of scrubbing are critical
- Cleaner selection and dilution-Deep scrub with 2-4X cleaner
- Clear water rinse before applying finish
Recoating the floor with two coats of finish will replace the finish that was scrubbed off to remove embedded dirt and light scratches. Adding a third coat will provide even more depth to the gloss.
- Finish selection
- Choose a finish to match burnishing frequency
- Number of coats
- Dry time
Restorative Floor Care
Strip and Refinish
The decision to strip and refinish the floor should be made when the floor has darkened/yellowed from embedded dirt and when scrub and recoat will not give a new appearance.
- Use a safe stripper – Avoid the long-term risks
- Always dilute according to the label on the container
- Allow the stripper to dwell on the floor as recommended by the manufacture
- Clear water rinse immediately after picking up the stripper to avoid “dry back”
- Be sure all the old finish has been stripped before applying a new finish
- Choose the right finish based on the maintenance frequency of burnishing
- Apply finish to a clean dry floor
- Apply at least 4 coats for maximum gloss build
- Proper dry time is critical for shine and durability
- Applying finish too thick or thin will affect the shine and durability
- Finish applied with a dry time between 20 to 40 min. will result in a shiny durable floor.
- When applying finish it is important to consider the environmental conditions in the facility. Airflow, humidity, temperature, weather, etc, affect the time it takes floor finish to dry.
- The polymers need to have time to set up properly to form a smooth, tight film. Formation of the finish takes place during the evaporation process.
- Finish applied too thin- If the finish is applied too thin and the liquid evaporates before the polymers have time to come together, the floor finish film will be weaker and have less shine.
- Finish-applied too thick-. Finish dries from the top to the bottom forming a “skim” across the top and traps chemicals, fumes, and moisture under the film and the finish cannot cure properly. This can cause problems such as streaking, ghosting, black heel marks, and swirling when burnished.
- 20/40 Rule: If it takes less than 20 minutes to dry, it is applied too thin. If it takes more than 40 minutes to dry, it is applied too thick.
A high-quality floor care program can help protect your floor investment and make a great impression with customers. Commercial facilities should consider an end-to-end maintenance solution. This system ensures the stripper, finish and cleaner are all formulated to work in conjunction with each other to deliver superior results and extend the length of time between maintenance cycles.
Credit: Mary Colvin