shine on finished floor in long hallway of facility with windows

Proper procedures, products and pre-emptive measures prolong the shine of VCT floors

People often equate shininess with cleanliness — especially when it comes to floors. But maintaining a mirror-like finish can be a costly investment, as well as a liability for facility cleaning managers. Fortunately, facilities are moving away from floors that impart a wet look in favor of durable finishes and maintenance that enhance safety and delay the need to strip and refinish.

“Making the floor shine until you can see your face in it is old school,” says Bill Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. in Seattle. “Newer flooring doesn’t have that high level of shine because it’s more costly to restore and maintain, and it can result in slip-and-fall issues. So people are backing off and going for a luster or satin finish.”

Despite the trend toward low-maintenance flooring, some facilities cannot afford to replace existing vinyl composition tile (VCT), while others choose not to: VCT is extremely durable when properly maintained. And although keeping VCT in like-new condition can be labor-intensive, facilities are finding ways to improve the shine without breaking the bank.


According to Bill McGarvey, director of training and sustainability for Philip Rosenau Co. Inc. in Warminster, Pennsylvania, clean floors leave a lasting impression on a facility’s occupants and visitors.

“Floors speak to the overall operation of a building, just as a restroom does,” he says. “People are forming their opinions about what goes on in that facility based upon the floor.”

But a shiny floor isn’t necessarily a clean floor.

“Look at the corners, baseboards and around the door moldings,” advises John Poole, senior consultant for the American Institute of Cleaning Sciences in Atlanta. “That will tell you if the floor’s clean or not. If there are marks on the floor and dust bunnies in the corners, it’s not clean.”

To prep for shiny floors that go the distance, experts recommend dust mopping or autoscrubbing the floor on a daily basis to prevent dirt from being ground into the finish. Griffin also encourages facilities to place protective pads or glides under chairs and other furniture, and keep them clean to prevent them from scratching or marking the floor.

Poole advocates a matting program: “The most important thing is having good matting at the entrances to capture dirt before it gets into the building,” he says. “People tend to overlook that facet, and they don’t consider that what’s brought from the outside inside can wreak havoc on floors.”

Preventive and daily maintenance not only preserves the floor’s appearance, but extends the time between stripping and refinishing — a costly, time-consuming process that can jeopardize employees’ health and safety.

“Stripping and refinishing is arguably the most hazardous operation in the cleaning industry,” notes McGarvey. “We’re dealing with one of the harshest chemicals — typically the stripper — and we’re putting that down on the floor and turning a sheet of plastic into a liquid, which makes that an ice rink. Then we have people standing in the solution with electricity at their fingertips. It’s a wonder we get through that without harming more individuals every year.”

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The High Price Of Shiny Floors