weighing price and product of floor pads

Custodial departments often have a choice between premium and budget brands — especially when purchasing frequently used, disposable items such as floor pads.

Premium floor pads typically run a few dollars more than budget pads — a significant difference when buying them by the caseload on an ongoing basis. But while price factors into the decision-making process, distributors urge facility cleaning managers to calculate the total cost of ownership when choosing the right pad for their floor care needs.

“You typically get what you pay for,” says Keith Schneringer, director of channel marketing and sustainability for WAXIE Sanitary Supply, San Diego. “In general, a premium pad is going to be more durable and give you better performance. So if you’re looking to do the job faster, multiple times or for a longer duration, you want a premium pad.”

In comparison, budget pads are usually softer, thinner and less durable, making them more suitable for infrequent cleaning, lightly soiled floors and smaller facilities.

Some distributors sell only premium floor pads. But others offer both premium and budget lines — and see value in both.

Hands-On Testing

Premium and budget pads are easily distinguishable by their price tag, but facility professionals often have to rely on manufacturers’ claims to evaluate their true worth. Fortunately, there are telltale signs buyers can look for to confirm their purchases, say distributors.

“What’s great about pads is you can touch and feel them,” says Damon Everett Harris, general manager for Sarasota Chemical and Paper Supply, Sarasota, Florida. “You can take the center out of the pad and do a squeeze test to see how much of the abrasive material falls off the pad. If most of it falls off, you know that as soon as that pad hits the floor and mixes with liquid, [the material’s] going to fall off on the floor rather than holding onto the pad to do the job.”

In addition to studying the exterior of the pad, facility cleaning managers can dissect the floor pad — literally — to distinguish premium from economy brands.

“On a premium floor pad, the grit, which really does the work of the pad, is cooked into the pad, similar to a chocolate chip cookie,” explains Bill McGarvey, director of training and sustainability, Philip Rosenau Co. Inc., Warminster, Pennsylvania. “If you were to slice the cookie across the top, you would expose more chips. Similarly, as you’re working with the pad and the surface starts to wear off, it exposes fresh grit so that you get more useful life out of the pad.”

By contrast, some budget pads have grit only on the surface of the pad. According to McGarvey, once that grit wears away, the pad may look the same, but it won’t perform the same.

If all else fails, facility professionals can conduct on-the-job testing to determine the pad’s value and effectiveness.

“You need to test your pad on a level playing field,” says Bill Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc., Seattle. “You need written protocols and you need consistency — same floor, same equipment, same operator. There are a lot of variables to consider and they all have some impact on the outcome.”

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