Floor Care Basics

When it comes to floor maintenance, nothing is more important than daily cleaning and regular restorative care. The majority of problems in hard floor care are linked to lack of knowledge — of the facility manager, the janitorial worker, or both. Simple procedures can be performed incorrectly, costing time, money and reputation.

The main goal in the care of a hard floor is preserving its life and its appearance, starting with daily maintenance. Soil and traffic loads vary depending on the facility, so a grit control program needs to be in place. Entrance mats are a key element to grit control, but are only the first step. Daily cleaning comes next and involves a number of steps. Frequent dust mopping removes top layers of debris, and should be followed by damp mopping, paired with a neutral pH cleaner to fight discoloration, which will capture and remove much of the film from the floor. A floor finish can become imbedded with dirt if those practices are not kept up. Preserving a floor’s finish is vital, especially in the winter, when salt and ice melt are tracked into buildings — those chemical compounds can attack the finish.

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Scheduled spray buffing with a standard or high-speed floor machine will help remove dirt and scuff marks, restore gloss and extend the life of the finish. To eliminate discoloration and bring back shine, spray buffing with a low concentrated acrylic cleaner can help. If a floor dulls after the spray or high-speed buffing, the floor finish may be thinning or soiled and may need a deep scrub and recoat. When recoating, it’s important to develop and recognize a base coat. Some building service contractors use a permanent marker to mark certain spots; when those spots start to wear, it’s an indication that the base coat has been reached and the floor can use a scrub and recoat. Using the proper pads is also essential to keeping floors in their ideal condition.

As a last resort — and an expensive one at that — stripping should be performed only when a deep scrub and recoat will not restore a finish to the desired appearance. Yellowing, imbedded dirt and irreparable damage are floor conditions that may require stripping. Manufacturers recommend using an alkaline with a pH higher than 11 on finished hard floors. After flooding floors with the stripper and allowing it to sit for generally 10 to 15 minutes, a wet vac should be used to vacuum up the slurry. The floor should be rinsed thoroughly with clean water and dried before sealer and a new finish is put down.

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