Floor Care: Rolling Out The Welcome Mat
Traditionally, there are vast reasons as to why a facility manager would consider implementing a matting system. Some might consider it a safety factor or use mats to display logos, while others comment that mats are a necessity that help improve cleanliness throughout the facility. In reality, there is no one right reason why matting is important. There are actually a variety of benefits to its implementation.
Cleaning managers put a lot of thought into developing the most effective and efficient matting system for their needs. Placement, safety, cost, matting types and their respective benefits all factor into each facility’s matting decision.
ISSA estimates that roughly 80 percent of all the soil, dust and contaminants found within a facility are tracked in on the shoes of staff and building occupants. The use of entry mats can reduce this percentage and help lower housekeeping costs.
Experts comment that the cost of removing a pound of dirt can exceed roughly $500. The average-sized building with comparable people will track in on their shoes over a pound of dirt a week in just one entryway. If there are five entryways, that is five pounds of dirt or $2,500 in cleaning costs, a significant savings if matting is implemented.
In addition to reducing general dusting, vacuuming and sweeping throughout the facility, eliminating dirt at the entryway can also save money on cleaning frequency in regards to flooring. Dirt and debris can grind into floor finishes, resulting in the need for additional stripping and waxing.
When considering matting purchases quality is often better than quantity. Although it might cost more, experts recommend focusing on the function and what the mats are going to be used for. Vinyl mats might be a lower cost item, but rubber-backed matting typically last longer within a facility. For larger facilities, manufacturers even recommend using a heavier rubber-backed mat.
Location, Location, Location
The entryway is the number one area within the facility that would benefit from a matting system. Used both inside and out, mats can substantially reduce the amount of contaminants being tracked into and throughout the facility.
Outdoor mats made out of rubber or a scraper mat will collect large amounts of debris and heavy soil from shoes before even entering the building — some as much as 50 percent.
If there is a section of flooring between doorways, experts recommend not overlooking these high-traffic areas. A heavier indoor mat is recommended in these areas to further remove soils and moisture that was not caught in the scraper mat outside.
Once inside the doors, the indoor mats will then collect the fine particles and moisture that might be left over on shoes, leaving little if any to be tracked beyond the entryway.
Based on the layout of the facility, runner mats are not always ideal directly inside entryways. If it is a large area, foot traffic might spread out and larger mats might be most effective because they cover more surface area.
In order to achieve the best results from matting systems, it is important to place matting properly. Experts recommend stretching matting at least 10 to 15 feet into the facility. Matting this long will allow the average person to step up to four times on each foot before walking off, collecting as much material as possible. Mats should also span at least the width of the door to guarantee it cannot be missed.
Beyond the entrance, other areas that that would benefit from the use of mats are swimming areas and showers, under water fountains, around factory doorways, loading docks and in break rooms. These areas would benefit from the use of runners or long, narrow mats.
In many cases, entry mats have been recommended by cleaning professionals for safety reasons. Moisture left on hard surfaces reduces a person’s traction and can result in a slip, trip or fall. Facilities located in climates prone to rain or snow have helped reduce these types of accidents by implementing an effective indoor and outdoor matting system. For matting to be effective in these climates, it must retain moisture, not allowing it to seep onto the floor or surrounding areas creating a slippery walking surface.
Dual-level mats are another option for high-traffic facilities. With dual-level mats, soil, moisture and other contaminants are stored below shoe level, helping to prevent their transfer into the facility.
Moisture aside, poorly maintained mats could become safety hazards themselves. Cleaning managers should regularly monitor their matting system, making sure mats are not fraying, rolling or bunching. Such deficiencies can result in accidents.
Also look for crush resistance of the carpet on the mat. If the carpet gets matted down in heavy traffic areas, it will be less effective at absorbing or grabbing dirt and debris.
Even though mats are not green certified products, they can contribute to the green movement. In fact, they are the first line of defense against dirt and debris that has potential to enter into the facility.
Manufacturers comment that depending on the quality and functionality of the matting used, as long as it can adequately grab and hold onto dust, dirt and other contaminants, matting can also contribute to improved indoor air quality. If it can’t hold particles, the next person that walks on the mat will kick dust and dirt loose, allowing it to become airborne.
It is also reported that mats that are properly placed and well maintained can keep as much as 80 to 85 percent of all dry soil and contaminants out of a facility.
It is because of factors like this that the U.S. Green Building Counsel added entryway systems — specifically citing matting — to its revision of LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance certification.
In order to receive the one point toward certification, an entryway system (grills, grates or mats) must be implemented because these products reduce the amount of dirt, dust, pollen and other particles from entering the building. Also required, at least 10 feet of mats must be in place immediately inside all public entrances.
The certification also requires an adequate cleaning strategy to maintain these entryway systems.
A matting system will only be effective if it is well maintained. Some facilities take advantage of a matting rental program where for a regular fee, the mats are serviced by an outside entity. On a regular basis, matting will be collected for laundering and replaced with clean mats.
For those facilities that maintain mats in house, manufacturers recommend daily vacuuming and weekly shaking to eliminate dust and debris between laundering. High-traffic facilities might benefit from more frequent vacuuming. Pressure washing and extraction cleaning of mats on a regular basis is also a good practice. Laundering should occur either biweekly or monthly at the very least.
The following companies contributed to this article:
• The Andersen Company, www.andersenco.com
• Crown Mats and Matting, www.crown-mats.com
• Millennium Mat Co., www.guardianmats.com
• Superior Manufacturing Group, Inc., www.notrax.com