Adopting & Follow a Regular Maintenance Schedule

by Joe Davis

Facility management professionals are faced with daily decisions on building maintenance, cleanliness, staff and operating costs. In that mix of responsibilities is implementing a floor care program that protects your floor investment and your bottom line. The most efficient way to maintain the look of any finished floor is by adopting and following a regular maintenance schedule and using products that require the least amount of labor.

Shiny floors are literally a reflection of your business. It’s been shown that facility appearance ratings can drop by as much as 75 percent if floor shine makes a bad first impression.

The following best practices offer solutions to help keep your floors shiny and contribute to a great first impression:

Prevention
Did you know that in an average 22 day work month, more than 26 lbs. of dirt can be tracked into a facility by just 1,000 people going through an entrance? By putting a floor matting program into place, you can help reduce the amount of soil, dirt and moisture that enters the building.

Mats should be located inside and outside the building in high-traffic areas, such as the main entrance to the building, the entryway and foyer. Also, place mats throughout the building – near the steps, the elevator shaft or other strategic areas – to continue to capture incoming dirt. Remember to clean mats on a regular basis.

Daily Routine and Maintenance
Your daily routine and maintenance schedule should include the following steps, depending on your facility and equipment. Maintaining a clean floor on a regular basis is an easy way to achieve efficiency:  it can allow you to delay stripping and refinishing indefinitely. 

  • Dust Mopping: Always begin your daily routine with dust mopping to help clear away larger elements of surface dirt. Dust mopping will help remove the surface dirt so that it doesn’t become embedded into the finish, causing damage to the finish. One watchout, don’t use oil based dust mop treatments as they can leave a haze on the floor that then attracts even more dirt. For best results, make sure the mop is clean before you get started. 
  • Damp Mopping: Damp mopping helps remove more particulates as well as oily soil. It also prevents the floor’s finish from darkening or yellowing from embedded soil. Be sure to use a clean mop head, start with clean water, and follow the manufacturer’s recommended dilution ratio for the floor cleaning product. And, be wary of overly wet mops. These can leave floors too wet with the cleaner, leaving soil behind, too. Finally, some products recommend rinsing with clean water. Consider using a no-rinse cleaner, which may help improve efficiency by eliminating that extra rinse step. 
  • Auto Scrubbing: This may not be feasible for all facilities, but using this type of equipment can be more effective and efficient. It removes soil better than damp mopping and can use less chemicals. Don’t forget to follow the manufacturer’s recommended dilution and choose the appropriate pad for cleaning. 
  • Low Speed Buffing: Low speed buffing helps repair the finish to a smooth shine and delay the need for a recoat. It’s a great option if your budget doesn’t allow for a burnisher. For durable finishes use a spray buff to aid “repair,” a mop-on maintainer for efficiency, and choose the pad appropriate for spray buffing.  Also, remember to properly clean the floors first before buffing. Dirt left on the floor can get imbedded into the finish by the buffer pad if not cleaned away first. 
  • High Speed Burnishing: High speed burnishing is much more efficient than low speed buffing, as these machines tend to have higher rotation speeds and rougher pads. High speed burnishing also helps repair the finish to a smooth shine and delays the need for a recoat. If you do plan on burnishing, you’ll first want to select a floor finish that matches your burnish frequency, and then choose the appropriate burnishing pad.

Importantly, frequency of buffing or burnishing is contingent on your floor type and your desired maintenance level. A critical decision you must make is choosing the right finish up front to match your desired level of maintenance and care. Each and every finish is formulated with a different burnish response and end result.

Interim Maintenance
When buffing or burnishing no longer helps provide the floor shine you want, it may be time for some interim maintenance. This step involves a deep scrub and recoat. It’s easiest to use an autoscrubber to achieve a good deep scrub and remove soil build-up, and then follow with a fresh water rinse. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to achieve best results. After your deep scrub, apply three to five thin layers of protective finish for the recoat. Thin, even coats enable proper finish formation, greater strength and improved durability. The frequency of recoating is dependent on the amount of foot traffic and also the amount of routine maintenance you are able to perform.

Restorative Care
Why strip and refinish? Floor finishes tend to become darkened and yellowed over time despite proper routine maintenance, so it is important to periodically strip off the old finish and apply a fresh finish. Choose an appropriate finished floor stripper product and follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully, including specific product application and wait time. High efficiency tip: let the product do the work for you! By following the manufacturer’s suggested wait time, you ensure the best results. The right stripper should remove the finish completely the first time, eliminating the need for re-stripping areas to achieve a clean base for the new finish. To maximize productivity, choose a no-rinse, low-odor and butyl-free stripper that can be used safely in any facility, especially those that operate 24/7. After ensuring the old finish is completely removed, it’s time to apply the new finish.

Critical Decisions
Selecting the best finish requires a thorough understanding of both your facility’s needs and the product’s features. Consider first how much routine maintenance you are able to provide, including buffing or burnishing. Then consider the importance of your floor shine levels. For example, durable finishes often stand-up well to scuffs, scratches and heel marks, and have a higher wear resistance. However, they have a lower burnish response and may not have high levels of shine. “Burnishable” finishes, on the other hand, are designed for polishing and can provide higher levels of shine, but require a bit more maintenance to keep that shine.

Also, selecting the right cleaning products will allow cleaning professionals to achieve the best results. When ineffective cleaners are used, soils are left behind, which cause dulling or wear on floor surfaces. The use of less effective products also negatively impacts productivity because staff must clean longer and it’s harder to attain the desired result. The smarter choice is the use of a neutral-impact cleaner that is highly effective in removing a broad range of abrasive particulate soil from the floor surface. The right cleaner will enable staff to more easily achieve soil removal and help maintain a bright and shiny appearance for the floor.

Facility managers should consider an end-to-end maintenance solution, such as the P&G Pro Line Floor Care System, that ensure the stripper, finish and cleaner are formulated to work seamlessly together to deliver a long-lasting shine, while helping to extend the time between scrub and recoat.

Flooring and floor care maintenance are major investments for any business. Be sure to choose a floor care system that works synergistically and gives a great first impression to patrons and visitors, and extends the life of the floor itself.