- Floor Care Basics
- By Fred Wehby — posted 06/06/2011
According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, 86 percent of U.S. adults have a negative perception of a retail store when the floors are dirty. Similar Harris polls found 85 percent of consumers would not rebook at a hotel and 68 percent would never return to a restaurant if the floors were unclean. These polls demonstrate how floor image directly impacts a business’s brand.
Even more important than image, floors must be safe. Balancing the demand for safe and attractive floors with tight budgets can present facility managers with a substantial challenge, one that building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house service providers—and their suppliers—should be prepared to help facility management meet.
Common Flooring Obstacles
Common flooring challenges include:
Worn flooring. Businesses purchase flooring expecting it to last for decades, but often find it looking worn, soiled, or dull after only a few years. A recent study conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction revealed that facility managers anticipate new carpet to last at least 11 years. However, most facilities replace carpet after only six to nine years. Replacing floors is expensive. Costs include removing old flooring, installing new flooring, and lost revenue due to business disruptions.
Dirt accumulation. One square yard of commercial carpeting captures one pound of dirt per week, which can cost as much as US$600 to remove, according to ISSA’s 447 Cleaning Times. In inclement weather, the amount of accumulated dirt can double, leading to increased costs. Tile and other hard floor surfaces accumulate dirt as well, leading to darkened or discolored grout lines and tiles.
Slips and falls. Most facility managers need guidance in developing floor care programs that help reduce slip and fall risks. Slips and falls are costly and can ruin a business’ reputation and damage the brand. The National Safety Council estimates that more than 9 million disabling slips and falls occur each year with costs averaging more than US$20,000 per claim. Meanwhile, the average cost to defend against a slip and fall lawsuit is $50,000, and the average judgment awarded in cases that go to trial is $100,000, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI).
The aforementioned floor challenges are both costly and potentially dangerous for building occupants. To protect floors, improve image, and increase safety, facilities must have a floor care program that protects, maintains, and deep cleans. Helping them establish one is where you step in.
For facilities looking to protect both floors and building occupants, a first step is to implement a comprehensive matting system that trategically places mats throughout the facility to capture dirt and water. Doing so keeps the facility looking clean and minimizes the risk of slips and falls. To begin, mats should be placed in four main floor zones.
Entrance zones. These include immediate areas surrounding all facility entrances. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, mats that extend six feet to 15 feet inside the entrance will trap 80 percent of soil and moisture from the first five or six foot steps. Combine rubber scraper mats outside of the building with carpet mats inside of the building to maximize protection.
High-risk zones. These are areas where grease and water can accumulate, such as between shops, offices, or kitchens. Other common areas include vending machines, water fountains, and ice machines. Mats will keep these areas dry to help reduce slips and falls.
High-traffic zones. These are areas with high levels of foot-traffic, including hallways and areas in front of time clocks, copiers, and check-out stations. Protecting these areas with mats will reduce wear and track patterns, helping enhance the image of the facility.
Productivity zones. This includes areas such as work stations and customer service areas. Antifatigue or message-carrying mats can help increase employee productivity and morale.
Select mats with beveled edges to keep corners from “kicking up” and gripper backs to enable water to aerate underneath them and that are certified “High Traction” by the NFSI. These have passed a laboratory test and a “real world” test certiying their ability to help reduce the likelihood of slips, trips, and falls.
Many facilities, even some with in-house cleaning staffs, look to an outside contractor or supplier well-versed in matting to conduct an initial mat audit and provide ongoing matting services to ensure proper mat placement. By forging such a partnership, facilities also can eliminate upfront matting inventory investment and help ensure mats are always clean and functioning properly.
Daily floor maintenance keeps floors looking their best, but it requires the proper tools, training, and schedule. BSCs and in-house managers should partner with a supplier that can equip your staff with the appropriate cleaning tools—including microfiber, dust, and wet mops—to help make daily cleaning effective and easier. Floors should be vacuumed and/or mopped at least once per day, if not more, to remove dirt. Implement a daily cleaning schedule to help employees stay on track, and provide a visual representation to show employees which chemicals and equipment are required for each task to prevent cross-contamination.
Using the correct amount of product is also important to maintain floor appearance. Using too much chemical on hard floors can leave a dull appearance and causes floors to become slippery when wet while too much product on carpet can encourage soils to stick to the fibers. Using too little chemical ineffectively cleans the floors and leaves dirt visible to guests and employees. Investing in a chemical dispensing system can assure proper mix ratios, reduce solution mixing time, and enhance safety by limiting employee and customer exposure to concentrated chemicals.
While daily maintenance helps extend the life of flooring, floors will still wear out sooner vs later without a long-term maintenance strategy. Deep cleaning can dramatically extend the life of flooring and is an essential component of a successful floor maintenance program. It removes dirt; breaks down build-up; and extracts contaminants from grout, tile, and carpeted areas. An efficient cleaning methodology successfully integrates temperature, agitation, chemicals, time, and extraction to achieve an unparalleled level of clean.
A complex process, deep cleaning requires chemicals, equipment, and training. Using the wrong product or an improperly trained staff can prove costly. Many businesses, even those with in-house cleaning staffs, prefer to outsource their deep cleaning to trained technicians to ensure it is performed correctly and to avoid having to replace flooring or equipment damaged by an inexperienced employee.
A comprehensive floor maintenance program that includes protection, maintenance, and deep cleaning helps facilities preserve their flooring investment and provide a safe and satisfying atmosphere. And that’s a nice reflection on you!
For more information, visit http://www.cintas.com/facilityservices.