Clearing Up Floor Cleaning Myths
Our industry has its share of myths. Myths can confuse, frustrate or cause extra work. Let’s clean-up a few floor care ones.
Myth: Additional coats of floor finish make a floor more slippery with each coat applied. False. Floor finish manufacturers go to great, if not extreme, lengths to make certain their floor care products meet or exceed industry slip/fall standards. In fact, should a floor coated with any quality finish become “fast” or slippery, the best fix is to top scrub and apply a fresh coat of the same finish.
Myth: Top scrubbing with a weak solution of stripper is a good procedure to deep clean a floor prior to recoating. False. The chemicals formulated into strippers are designed to reverse the process that occurs when floor finish is initially applied, allowed to dry and cure. The stripping process is a chemical process and even a weak solution attacks the chemical makeup of the floor finish coating left behind. Consequently, after scrubbing and removing the dirty solution, damage has been done to the healthy floor coating.
Myth: A 25 percent nonvolatile solids content floor finish is harder or more durable than an 18 percent nonvolatile solids content floor finish. False. Higher percentages of nonvolatile solids are just that — higher percentages of nonvolatile solids. Durability or hardness is determined by the type of solids, not the percentage.
For example, finishes that are formulated for daily burnishing will be “softer” than finishes formulated for less frequent or no burnishing (easily buffable, easily scuffable). A high solids finish may be formulated to meet bid specifications calling for high solids but the type of solids can have a higher percentage of lesser quality ingredients to help lower costs. These formulations may not be durable and may be receptive to impacted soil, which leads to oxidation and discoloration and other problems.
Myth: Only some finishes are susceptible to furniture sticking to a freshly finished floor. False. This problem can happen with any finish at any time, but usually occurs in the summer months when humidity is highest.
The problem is related to relative humidity and drying/curing time. One common example occurs frequently in schools. When a classroom is coated with finish, there is no way to determine the relative humidity in that room. The only way to prevent the desks from sticking is to leave the desks in the hallway until the new finish is completely cured. But how do we know when it is cured? We don’t.
To minimize the problem, apply thin coats, keep the application to 100 percent solids or less in any 24-hour period (four coats of 25 percent nonvolatile solids finish), leave the air handler on, leave the door(s) open, and when the desks are returned to the room, lay them on their sides, if possible. Should you encounter desks sticking, do not attempt to pull them up as you risk pulling up parts of tile. Instead, gently tap the legs of the desks down low near the floor until the desks separate from the finish.
These are a just a few of the myths we sometimes encounter as we clean and care for buildings.
Skip Seal is a trainer and consultant with more than 30 years management experience in the cleaning industry. He is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) ISSA Certification Expert (I.C.E.). Seal and his team offer support across the country with sales and operation analysis, new market penetration, and sales training. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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