The entryway of a local grocery store once left the wrong lasting impression with Jim Traudt, vice president of sales for Right Choice Janitorial Supply, Milwaukee.

The store employed a single, 10-foot runner at the entrance to remove debris from shoppers’ feet. The runner was bunched up and, being the dead of winter, soaking wet.  

“Your feet got wet walking across it,” Traudt recalls.

Keeping a facility’s entryway clean must be top of mind because just as the above example illustrates, visitors will remember a dirty facility.  

Keeping entryways spotless is an end user’s first line of cleaning defense. ISSA estimates 80 percent of the soil, dust and contaminants within a facility come in through the door on the shoes of visitors and building occupants, states Jon Scoles, managing partner of Scoles Floorshine Industries, Wall, N.J.

ISSA also estimates it costs at least $500 to remove a pound of soil tracked into a facility. However, if end users can stop dirt at the door, it will be prevented from spreading throughout the entire building, says Teresa Farmer, sustainability consultant at Kelsan Inc., Knoxville, Tenn.

“If you can keep the dirt out, there’s less maintenance, plus you’ve protected your floors,” she adds.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to improve an entryway’s appearance and preserve the life of its floors.

An Ounce Of Prevention

It’s been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This statement becomes readily evident in entryway care. Everything from the right plantings and vegetation, to programs designed to keep sidewalks and parking lots clean to placing matting indoors and out can prevent dirt from coming inside.  

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED IEQ Credit 3.5: Green Cleaning – Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control recommends installing low-maintenance vegetation within the landscape design and avoiding plants that produce fruit, flowers or leaves that might be tracked into the building.

Many end users also find it extremely beneficial to sweep and pressure wash the sidewalks outside the facility, says Scoles. LEED IEQ Credit 3.5 underscores these benefits, recommending facilities install a water spigot and electrical outlet at each entrance to facilitate proper maintenance and cleaning.

Scoles recommends sweeping sidewalks at least once a week.

“Some companies even scrub parking lots regularly to remove oil and other debris automobiles leave behind so that people do not track those things in,” he says. “Anything you can do to present less dirt at the doorway makes it all the better.”

LEED also requires facilities to incorporate walk-off mats into entryway care. LEED guidelines promote installing grilles, grates or mats at least 10 feet long in the primary direction of travel to capture soil, dirt and debris that might otherwise come into the building on visitors’ shoes.

Scoles advises taking these guidelines a step further by placing 12 to 15 feet of entrance matting outside and inside the entrance to capture 80 to 90 percent of the dirt on people’s shoes. He also stresses matting must follow the traffic pattern of the people coming in or it won’t be effective.

“If you have matting, but if people go off to the left or to the right, then you’re not cleaning their feet,” he says. “They need to get four to five steps on a mat in order for it to work.”

Experts report matting selection is also crucial. An aggressive rubber or scraper mat strategically placed outside the door traps dirt and moisture before it comes inside.

Once inside, however, a heavier indoor mat designed to collect fine particles and moisture left on people’s shoes works well, says Traudt.  This matting should also retain moisture to prevent it from seeping onto hard surface floors where it can become a slip and fall hazard. Farmer recommends a mat design with ridges and lower wells that removes the dirt and moisture and drops it below the foot level.

Size matters, too. Runner mats, such as those described in the opening scenario, do not offer the best protection. If foot traffic spreads out, people may not walk across these mats enough to trap dirt and water. Larger mats cover more surface area and provide enough room for individuals to take the recommended four to five steps before walking off.  

“If people would just stop and wipe their feet, you’d only need a 3x5 foot mat, but nobody does that, they just walk in,” says Scoles. “The mat inside should be four to six feet and cover the length of the doorway.”

Mat choice is also affected by the surface underneath. For instance, if the mats cover carpeting, they need a gripper back that prevents them from sliding and bunching up, but on hard surface floors, smooth backed mats work well, according to Scoles.

Finally, Traudt stresses matting should be used 12 months a year.

“Many places only put matting out in the winter,” he says. “But dirt comes in year round.”

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

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Maintaining Entryway Floors