When it comes to floor care, "the biggest misconceptions that end users have is that a certain floor finish or piece of equipment will provide them with beautiful floors," says Vince Sortino, vice president of sales at Philip Rosenau Co., Warminster, Pa. "While a properly selected floor finish with characteristics that match your maintenance program are essential, and proper equipment can help save on labor, the real key to beautiful floors is daily maintenance."

In an effort to continually provide a desired look within the facility, custodial operations managers must develop a schedule for proper floor maintenance.

"Sweeping and dry mopping regularly can unify the look of the floors over time and extend the life of finishes," says William Suter, LEED-AP and director of facilities management at American University in Washington, D.C. "In a busy area, daily care might be the right frequency and implementing the use of a microfiber system may result in reduced labor, enabling cleaners to accomplish more per unit of time."

Distributors agree that daily dry mopping or vacuuming is essential in proper hard floor care maintenance. Leaving dirt and debris will abrade the floor finish over time and may result in more frequent stripping and refinishing.

"Loose dirt does more harm to floors than anything else," says Larry Johnson, product manager for S. Freedman & Sons Inc., Landover Md. "I recommend dust mopping or vacuuming at least every day, sometimes more depending on the traffic in the area."

Dust mopping is not strenuous work, and it doesn't have to be time consuming for departments. Tools and equipment are available to expedite the process. Consensus among distributors is that using either microfiber mops or vacuums with hard floor tools will provide the best results.

That said, whatever tool departments choose to use for dusting, it is essential that it be clean. Following manufacturer recommendations for cleaning vacuum filters and emptying bags/canisters will keep dirt and debris in check. Also, a clean cotton or microfiber mop is just as important as the mopping itself.

If using a static-charged dust mop, such as microfiber, departments are warned to steer clear of dust treatment chemicals. This will damage the fabric and can create slippery floors.

Once dry mopping is complete, departments are advised to wet mop or clean floors using an autoscrubber. This should be done at least once a day, again, depending on the traffic of the area or even the time of year.

"During winter months, for instance, you may be concerned with moisture from rain or snow affecting floor cleanliness," says Stan Hulin, industry consultant and president and CEO of Future Floor Technology Inc., in Gladstone, Ore. "Salt and ice melt materials will also impact the floor maintenance routine," requiring more frequent cleaning.