Stripping and recoating hard floors is both costly and labor-intensive. And with limited resources, end users are relying on distributors to help them develop programs that allow them to strip floors less often. Daily maintenance, matting and interval scrubbing all help to improve the floor’s appearance and keep it looking good for as long as possible.

“For years, customers accepted the fact that floors had to be completely stripped and recoated after a certain period of time,” says Chris Martini, director of marketing and special projects for Central Sanitary Supply in Modesto, Calif.

Recently, however, Martini has noticed a change in attitude toward the stripping and recoating cycle.

“The mentality is shifting toward a scrub and recoat process and a focus on how we maintain the floor in between, as well as how we prevent dirt from getting on that floor finish to begin with,” he says.

Daily Floor Maintenance

Distributors agree that an effective daily maintenance program is the first line of defense in reducing the need to strip floors.

“A good floor care program always begins with the daily,” says Jeff Zluticky, senior territory manager for Massco, Wichita, Kan. “As a general rule, I recommend that you dust mop and autoscrub floors daily. If you can’t autoscrub, I recommend that you wet mop the floor.”

Zluticky advises customers to use microfiber dust mops to remove soil. He also suggests using cold water and a good neutral cleaner for daily scrubbing. But most importantly, he urges customers to stick to their maintenance schedule.

“If they can’t [clean floors] every day, then they should have some kind of schedule to keep it clean,” Zluticky says. “So many times people ask their floor finish to do too much. They put down a few new coats and say, ‘We’re going to abuse you, and we’re not going to clean you very well, but, by golly, we want you to look good for six months.’ We need to be fair to the finish and give it the help it needs to look good.”

Bill Allen, a sales rep for Fagan Sanitary Supply, West Elizabeth, Pa., has helped customers improve their floor care program by changing their dust removal procedure.

“By going to a backpack vacuum with an attachment for hard floors, customers can collect close to 100 percent of dust and debris,” Allen says.
Allen recommends using the least-aggressive pad possible when autoscrubbing and a neutral-pH, green-certified chemicals to clean floors, whether autoscrubbing or wet-mopping.

“If people don’t have access to an autoscrubber, I recommend microfiber mops versus cotton, and dust mops and wet mops that are looped and sewn so that they can be laundered for multiple uses.”

While autoscrubbing can be done daily, Allen believes that effective dust mopping and/or vacuuming in conjunction with a good matting program can reduce the need for daily autoscrubbing.

Matting Keeps Dirt Off Floors

In addition to improving daily maintenance to keep floors cleaner for longer, customers need to check their matting to make sure that it’s helping and not a hindrance.

“Matting is key,” says Martini, “but throwing a three-by-five mat at an entranceway is not going to get enough dirt off people’s shoes.”

Customers need to focus on both indoor and outdoor matting and ensure that they have the right type of mats as well as the right size mats to effectively prevent soil from entering the building.

It all begins at the entrance of the facility, says Allen. With a vast majority of debris in a building coming in through the entrances, proper matting is the first line of defense to keep much of that from being tracked further into the building.

“Using effective bi-level scrapping mats in conjunction with wiper mats at minimum distances of 15 to 20 feet greatly reduces that dirt and debris, allowing for less wear and tear of the floor surface,” he says.

Mats — like floors — need to be maintained well, adds Zluticky.

“Keep them clean and vacuumed,” he urges. “A lot of times you’ll see mats that are worn out, and we’ve neglected to replace them or keep them updated. Then we wonder why we have so much dirt inside the building.”

Chemical-free Floor Scrubbing

Although customers cannot abandon floor stripping entirely, a scrub and recoat process will prolong the intervals between stripping and recoating, which helps save money and labor hours, not to mention avoids exposing janitors to potentially harmful chemicals.

“Chemical-free stripping with special floor pads is becoming very popular,” says Zluticky, “I’m seeing a lot of folks doing that now with the scrub and recoat process.”

So how often should end users scrub and recoat their floors? It depends on the amount of foot traffic in the facility, say distributors, as well as how that floor is maintained throughout the year. As a rule of thumb, floors are typically scrubbed and recoated every six months to a year, which can stretch out the stripping and recoating process by as much as four or five years.

“We’re seeing a lot of the scrub and recoat process in education where budgetary restraints are really tight,” says Martini. “Traditionally, in a school the floors are stripped and recoated every summer. Now, instead of completely stripping the floors every summer, we do a scrub and recoat. Depending on the abuse the floor gets, it could last anywhere from three to five years.”

Better floor chemicals are allow end users to strip floors less often.

“The technology in floor finishes has advanced over the years, so it’s more durable,” says Martini. “Most of them are a lot stronger and able to withstand the traffic better than they did 10 to 15 years ago.”

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.