The custodial staff at Regional School District 6, Litchfield, Connecticut, is more than a group of people who happen to work for the same employer — they are a team in every sense of the word, and every individual opinion counts.

Fran Odell, director of facilities for the district, encourages the staff of 15 to try out and recommend certain products, including floor pads and brushes, to the rest of the staff.

“Everyone gets a voice as to what is used,” says Odell. “They have to be happy with what they are using.”

In all, the district maintains three elementary schools and one high school; the elementary schools are all more than 35,000 square feet, while the high school is more than 136,000 square feet. The floor surfaces throughout the buildings are a combination of VCT, ceramic, wood, concrete and carpeting, making floor are a laborious task.

To keep the floors pristine, the staff relies on various types of floor cleaning machines, from swing buffers to battery or self-propelled floor machines, all of which, of course, require replaceable floor pads and brushes.

Right Pad For The Job

Floor pads come in a myriad of shapes, sizes and colors; the choices are greater than ever before.

“When they came out, there were only two types of pads — one to strip a floor and one to clean and buff. The selection was minimal,” says Odell. That has changed tremendously over the past decade or so.

For the school district, selecting the right floor pad is important since it is tied to efficiency and cost. For example, a pad that is too harsh or abrasive could cause damage to surfaces, and a pad that doesn’t fit into hard-to-reach corners is inadequate.

Compounding the decision-making process are environmental considerations. Since 2011, schools in Connecticut have been required to use environmentally friendly products, though Odell and staff were ahead of the curve, having gone “green” in 2009. Part of the transition included an environmentally preferred wax, one that is softer and does not contain polymer hardeners. The new products initially made it difficult to find the right pad, says Odell, because pads react differently with the new wax.

“We worked closely with our vendor, Hillard-RoVic, in choosing the right pads for that type of softer wax. It was trial and error,” she says, “but we found a light blue burnish pad to be the most effective for our needs.”

Octagonal shaped pads are getting a lot of attention in the industry, but Odell has found success using a 50/50 mix of both round and rectangular pads, based on the area in which they’re being used. For scrubbing and buffing, workers use round pads, but when they need to reach corners, they use the rectangular pads.

Odell says that the advantage to the round pad is speed, which leads to a nice gloss and shine, but the disadvantage is that workers can’t reach into corners.

Pads are used for everything from buffing and scrubbing, to prepping and stripping. For cleaning kitchens, restrooms and locker rooms, Odell reported that they use scrub pads, which reach into tile grout. These pads also work well in prepping floors for waxing, while other less abrasive pads are used specifically for buffing and shining the floors.

For staff on the job, choosing the correct floor pad should be easy, as they are color-coded.

“Workers can identify the brushes and various pads by respective color,” says Odell. “Those darkest in color are more abrasive, while lighter options are less abrasive.”

When it comes to determining which pad is used in each situation, Odell gives the team members a great deal of latitude. She offers advice and uses recommendations from her vendors, but she also listens to her staff.

“I welcome feedback from my team,” she says. “They’re the experts. I learn from them just as much as they learn from me. If someone finds a better way of doing things, they are encouraged to ‘share the wealth’ with the rest of the staff.”

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Proper Maintenance Of Floor Pads