Part two of this three-part article focuses on alternative floor pad types.

As if the rainbow of pads isn’t enough, manufacturers are also frequently introducing new products to address special situations.

“You’ll always need the traditional products, but we as manufacturers need to keep up with the trends and make pads that respond to the market,” says Beaudette.

One important trend affecting cleaning is the sustainability, or eco-conscious, movement. This is most common in facilities that must meet government mandates, LEED-certified buildings, or hospitals and other healthcare providers.

“With floor pads, there is a wider variety of mechanical cleaning options rather than using harsh chemicals,” says John Miller, vice president of executive sales and marketing for Americo Manufacturing Company, Acworth, Georgia.

Newer maroon pads are used for chemical-free stripping. They’re thick and dense and don’t require a chemical to prepare the floor for finish application. They save on both labor and chemicals, which may explain why maroon pads are quickly becoming very popular.

“Just a neutral cleaner or water takes off the first layer or two of finish to bring luster back to the floor, and then you can apply the next coat of finish,” says Neu.

For chemical-free cleaning, many facilities are trying out melamine foam pads, which use the same open-cell polymeric foam technology as the popular melamine handheld eraser sponges. They use a lot of water, but no chemicals, to effectively remove black marks without removing or dulling the floor finish. They can also be used to restore tile and grout without chemicals. On the downside, they often break down easily, so it can be expensive to use them for more than spot cleaning.

“They are great for healthcare, airports or anywhere that gets heavy traffic and has black marks that need to be removed on a regular basis,” says Beaudette.

Turf pads are designed to scrub uneven grouted floors at about one-fifth of the cost of brushes. A strong astroturf-type material and solid construction gives these pads a longer life expectancy than most other pads. They’ve been a niche product for years, but are slowly gaining steam as more manufacturers add them to their lines.

“They are doing work that back in the day would have been done by brushes,” says Beaudette. “They are beginning to take [market] share from brushes.”

Finally, microfiber polishing pads bring the many features and benefits of microfiber towels to the floor. Although pricier than most pads, they can be used to polish multiple surfaces, including vinyl tile and stone, with just water or dry.

 

Take Shape

Another consideration when using pads is the type of machine it will go on. While about 90 percent of floor-care equipment is still the traditional round shape, there are now other options on the market, including rectangle (or square), x-shape, flower or scallop, and octagon.

“It’s very important that no matter what shaped floor pad is used, it properly fits the machine,” says Miller. “Oversized or undersized pads may negatively impact the overall performance of the machine operation and cleaning performance.”

The most popular of the non-circular machines is the rectangle, or square, shape.

“They do more vibrating than circulating,” says Neu. “They do the same work, but they allow more flexibility because you can get into hard-to-reach corners and tight spaces. Most of our circle pads are now available in square.”

Other oddball shapes represent a small share of the machine market. Some cleaners prefer them, however, because the pads offer more edges, which do most of the cleaning work.

“Years ago, studies determined a more aggressive edge on the pad provides more results on the first pass,” says Beaudette. “When converted from a passive round to more aggressive shape, you can scrub deeper and polish to higher shine with less effort.”