Although LVT and LVP floors are low maintenance, they aren’t without challenges. Most notably, they are incredibly easy to destroy if best practices aren’t followed. Too often, BSCs assume they can treat LV products the same as VCT floors. In fact, LVT/LVP differ from VCT in two key ways.

First, LV products have texture where soil can collect, meaning cleaning technicians must use different cleaning tools and techniques if they want to successfully remove soil from these floors. A standard mop and bucket won’t cut it.

“Often, a cylindrical brush will do a better job of cleaning the nooks and crannies — particularly on the tiles resembling wood — than a pad or even a rotary brush,” says McGarvey.

Second, LV products have a wear layer that must be protected. Unlike VCT or other vinyl flooring, LV floors cannot withstand sacrificial finishes with various levels of buffing, agitation, abrasion and reapplication of finishes.

“Technicians need to learn to use less aggressive cleaning products and pads,” says Hulin. “The industry is gravitating to safer cleaning products and moving away from floor coatings and finishes.”

Although water-based floor finishes go down on LVT/LVP as normal — and some manufacturers permit their use — they aren’t needed and can cause problems, says Thompson. The finish cannot firmly attach to the flooring because it’s not porous, which means it can’t cure correctly and will attract and hold soils and chemicals.

“LV products are intended to reduce maintenance requirements,” he says. “When finish is applied, the maintenance then increases. The wear layers, which are applied at the factory, are all the protection needed. If you use proper maintenance processes, there’s no need for any further maintenance.”

It’s imperative that contract cleaners understand how to properly maintain all flooring types, which starts with knowing exactly what type of floor is in a facility. Asking the client for the manufacturer’s name, brand, model and lot numbers of the flooring can segway into guidance on best practices for maintaining the specific product.

“Information is key. You can’t take proper care of a floor unless you really know what it is,” says McGarvey. “Don’t get your education from the school of hard knocks. Verify the information, not everyone who thinks they know the floor actually does know the floor. I once had an industry veteran tell me he was having trouble with his marble floor. The floor was granite.”

In the case that a flooring manufacturer can’t be identified, a cautionary approach is required.

“Don’t just charge ahead, or you may be figuring out how you’ll pay for the floor,” says McGarvey. “Test your chemistry and methodology in an out-of-site area or on a sample of the flooring before committing to the process in the middle of the lobby.”

Staff training — and regularly-scheduled retraining to keep skills sharp — is paramount to avoiding costly mistakes with LVT/LVP care. Several certification and training classes are available to assist the process. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, for example, will begin offering its new Resilient Floor Maintenance Technician certification course this year.

As LVT and LVP lay claim to a larger share of the flooring market, it’s more critical than ever for BSCs to understand how to properly care for them. With a few small, but important tweaks to typical maintenance procedures, clients can protect flooring investment for years to come.

Becky Mollenkamp is a freelance writer based in St. Louis.

previous page of this article:
Entrance Matting Minimizes Floor Soil