The local high school basketball team was ready to play and their opponent was up to the challenge. Minutes before the teams were set to take the court, however, the referees cancelled the game. The floors were too slippery to be safe. The culprit? Inferior cleaning products, an improper maintenance plan, and miscommunication between the athletic and janitorial departments.

The embarrassing event prompted the school district to turn to Fagan Sanitary Supply in West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. School officials had seen how the company had helped another local district create beautiful (and playable) gymnasium floors.

“They were impressed and asked what we did,” says Bill Allen, a territory director at Fagan. “The best advice I can give is it takes preparation, it takes proper procedures, and it takes partnering to get the best performance.”

Protecting a gym floor begins before anyone enters the space. Soil is a floor’s No. 1 enemy, so it’s important to have proper matting to pull dirt off shoes and to absorb moisture. Experts agree: this isn’t an area to skimp. It’s important to choose good-quality mats rated for high soil load.

A good matting program should include a bi-level scraper mat at the building entrance and a wiper mat in the entrance vestibule. This interior walk-off area should be at least six feet wide, and ideally as wide as 20 feet. Investing in a logo mat with a “Protect our gym” message can also encourage compliance.

“I seldom see matting outside a gym entrance yet it makes the most sense,” says Chris Pratt, sales manager at EA Morse & Co. Inc. in Middletown, New York. “If it doesn’t hurt, why not? Sometimes just the presence of a mat will cause people to wipe their shoes.”

If space allows, it can also be helpful to use wiper mats inside the gymnasium. When attendance is up, an additional wiper mat inside the doors can reduce soil loads. A thin rollout runner placed in front of the bleachers or other heavy traffic areas can reduce signs of wear. Gyms that host community events, particularly when folding chairs are used, may also need protective matting over the floor.

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The Right Mops For Gym Floor Cleaning