Hard Floor care tips based on traffic conditions

Dry soils such as sand, grit and dust are invariably found on hard surface floors. For the most part, their presence is not a significant problem. However, this can change significantly when people walk across and mobile equipment (trolleys, pushchairs, wheelchairs etc) roll over the floor.

These dry soils have sharp edges. Once people and equipment are introduced they can start abrading, eroding and otherwise damaging the floor and its finish.

The number of people and equipment travelling on a floor is referred to as “Traffic” and the amount of foot traffic on the floor will help determine the amount and type of cleaning and maintenance the floor will need.

Rotary buffer

To help cleaning professionals better understand the concept of foot traffic, the following guidelines may help:

Low Traffic: A low-traffic environment is typically a small office or retail store. Such a facility will have about 100 to 500 people walking through it each day. Daily sweeping/vacuuming may be required to remove light debris, dust etc but thorough (wet) floor maintenance may only be required on a weekly basis.

Medium Traffic: While some environments may fall into the high traffic category, medium sized buildings are considered medium foot traffic environments. These facilities typically have 500 to 1,500 people walking through them and will require daily cleaning.

High Traffic: Environments that include 1,500 or more people per day walking on their floors include facilities such as large office buildings, large station concourses, airports, hospitals and large schools and colleges. The floors here are continually under attack and will require floor maintenance multiple times throughout the day.

It is also important to realise that certain areas within a facility may have multiple traffic patterns. Invariably, lobbies and entries into retail stores can be high traffic areas while other areas within the facility may have medium or even low traffic.

To ensure proper floor maintenance, cleaning professionals must be clear which areas need the most frequent attention. This ensures the floors are properly maintained, reduces costs, and can help reduce the frequency of expensive floor restoration.

In all cases, variables such as weather conditions, the installation of entrance matting, etc., can play a role in the amount of care and attention a floor needs.

Into the Light

Cleaning and maintenance of stone floors

The first step in proper stone care and maintenance is to understand your stone’s geological classification and composition. This information will help you to identify what cleaning products to use and how best to care for your natural stone.

Natural stone is categorised into three basic geological classifications by their respective formation processes

  1. Sedimentary
  2. Metamorphic
  3. Igneous

Additionally, stones in each category can be either Calcareous or Siliceous.

Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate, a chemical compound commonly found in natural stone, shells and pearls. Calcium Carbonate is sensitive to acidic solutions so mild, non-acidic cleaners are recommended.

Siliceous stone, as the term implies, is one composed primarily of silicates, such as quartz, feldspar, mica, etc. As such, a siliceous stone is generally resistant to most acids found although acidic cleaners are still not recommended, as these stones may contain trace levels of minerals that are acid sensitive.

The following chart is a helpful guide:

Stone type table

To get the longest life and to preserve the beauty of natural stone, follow these simple tips:

Dust Mopping: Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit are abrasive and can damage natural stone.

Mats/rugs: Entrance matting systems or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimise the sand, dirt and grit that may otherwise scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is slip resistant.

Marble floor in hotel

Vacuum cleaners: If used, be sure the metal or plastic attachments or the wheels are not worn as they can scratch the surface of some stones.

Spills: Blot the spill with a paper towel immediately. Don’t wipe the area, it will spread the spill. Flush the area with water and mild detergent and rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary.

Cleaning:

  • Clean stone surfaces with a neutral cleaner or stone soap and warm water.
  • An excessive concentration of cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Follow manufacturer recommendations.
  • Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with detergent or soap solution and ensure the floor is dried.
  • For large areas such as entrance lobbies, corridors etc use a scrubber drier that will wash, scrub and dry in a single pass.
  • For even larger outside areas, a ride-on scrubber drier can be employed which will also be a more productive means of cleaning large areas.

natural-stone-tiles-exterior-floors-55300-1678037ECO_1298_HR_Lichen_crop

  • In outdoor pool or patio areas, flush with clear water and use mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss.

Cleaning Products:

  • Many suppliers offer products used for stone cleaning.
  • Products containing lemon, vinegar or other acids may dull or etch calcareous stones.
  • Scouring powders or creams often contain abrasives that may scratch certain stones.
  • Many commercially available rust removers (laundry rust stain removers, toilet bowl cleaners) contain trace levels of hydrofluoric acid (HF). This acid attacks silicates in addition to other minerals. All stones, including granite and quartzite, will be attacked if exposed to HF.

Sealing

Sealing is a common step taken on some stones as an extra precaution against staining. In fact, the sealing products used in the stone industry are ‘impregnators” which do not actually seal the stone, but more correctly act as a repellent rather than a sealer.

Sealing does not make the stone stain proof, rather it makes the stone more stain resistant. When consulting with your stone supplier, you may find that many stones do not require sealing. However, applying an impregnating sealer is a common practice.

When considering sealing, remember that sealing the stone does not make the stone stain proof, it makes it more resistant to staining.

If a sealer is applied in a food preparation area, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use.

Consult with your supplier or sealing manufacturer specific to the type of sealer and frequency of use recommended.

Stain Identification Tips

Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. Stains can be oil based, organic, metallic, biological, ink based, paint based, acid based. If you don’t know what caused the stain, consider likely staining agents that may have been present. Here are some questions you should consider:

Where is the Stain Located?

  • Is it near a plant, a food service area, an area where cosmetics are used?
  • What colour is it?
  • What is the shape or pattern?
  • What occurs in the area around the stain?

Stain Removal Steps

Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product.

What Type of Stain is it?

The following sections describe the types of stains you may have to deal with and the appropriate household chemicals to use and how to prepare and apply a poultice to remove the stain.

Oil-based (grease, tar, cooking oil, cosmetics) An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft, liquid cleanser.

Organic (coffee, tea, wine, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird droppings) May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with a mild hydrogen peroxide solution.

Metallic (iron, rust, copper, bronze) Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flower pots, metal furniture.

Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice.

Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.

Biological (algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi) Clean with a recommended cleaning solution, generally containing ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.

Paint Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razor blade. Heavy paint coverage should be removed only with a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper available from DIY stores and paint centres.

These strippers normally contain caustic soda. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; re-polishing may be necessary.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, and flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Protect yourself with rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing the sludge and curdled paint. Normally, latex and acrylic paints will not cause staining. Oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks and sealants may cause oily stains.

Water Spots and Rings (surface accumulation of hard water) Buff with dry 0000 steel wool.

Fire and Smoke Damage Older stones and smoke or fire-stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning. When the smoke is removed, there may also be some etching (due to carbonic & other acids in smoke). Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.

Etch Marks (caused by acids left on the surface of the stone) Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. Contact your stone dealer or call a professional stone restorer for refinishing or re-polishing etched areas.

Efflorescence (a white powder that may appear on the surface of the stone) It is caused by the deposition of mineral salts carried by water from below the surface of the stone. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery substance.

If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuum the powder. You may have to do this several times as the stone dries out.

Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact your installer to help identify and remove the cause of the moisture.

Efflorescence

Scratches and Nicks Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and re-polished by a professional.

 

Maintenance of Vinyl Floor Coverings

The coating and cleaning chemicals associated with hard floor maintenance is known as the chemical system. The chemical systems available for vinyl floor coverings are no buff, spray buffing, and polishing/buffing systems.

Selection of the chemical system will be influenced by the assessment criteria associated with the facility. The environment, traffic conditions, congestion, time factors and budget will all have an impact on which selection to make.

Initial Maintenance

As with all hard floor coverings, maintenance begins directly after installation. The degree of initial maintenance will be dependent upon the level of cleanliness in which the floor covering was installed. Some installations are much better than others and can make the initial maintenance much easier to accomplish.

Most manufacturers of vinyl products recommend a waiting period of approximately 3 days after the floor covering is installed before wet maintenance can be performed. The reason for this is to allow ample time for the adhesive under the floor covering to completely cure. If wet cleaning or polishing procedures are performed prior to the adhesive curing, it can cause problems for the newly installed product.

Generally sheet goods that are heat welded are not an issue because water or solution has no way to get under the product. Some sheet goods that are not heat welded may have problems because the solution can get under the edges of the seams and cause them curl up. If the damage is significant enough it may require the whole installation to be pulled up and redone.

Floors that have tile products have many more seams for the solution to get under. This can cause serious damage when wet maintenance is performed too soon. In some cases the adhesive may soften and ooze out of all the seams making it very difficult to clean and dry the floor. Many times individual or groups of floor tiles will release from the sub floor. In severe cases the tiles can curl, warp or buckle.

The type of sub floor that the product is installed over can also be affected by performing maintenance services too soon. Generally resilient floor coverings are installed over a concrete sub floor, although it has been known for vinyl floors to be installed over plywood and other wood-based sub-floors.

If water or solution gets under the floor covering it may cause serious breakdown of the wood product underneath. Caution should be taken when working with these types of sub floors.

Initial maintenance for vinyl type floor coverings is not only to remove the soil accumulated during the installation, but also to remove the factory coating from the product. Factory coating is applied to the product to protect it during handling, packaging and installation.

Daily/Routine Maintenance

The most important aspect of any hard floor maintenance programme is eliminating or reducing soil throughout the facility. The daily/routine maintenance procedures address the regular maintenance needed to accomplish this task. Generally, housekeeping staff or cleaning contractors provide these daily services.

Sweeping, dust mopping or vacuuming procedures are the primary method of controlling dry particulate soil throughout most facilities. The service can be performed on a routine basis, daily or several times per day.

It is possible for wet mopping maintenance to be incorporated in the daily/routine maintenance schedule. Spot mopping may be carried out during open hours to eliminate spills that occur. Wet mopping may be performed after hours to remove more aggressive soils. The degree or level of the service will be predicated by the facility.

Light scrubbing with an automatic scrubbing machine or scrubber drier can be substituted for mopping procedures in areas large enough to warrant it.

In schools, colleges, hospitals, large offices and retail environments this is an expected means of maintenance.

Periodic Maintenance

The term periodic generally refers to service procedures that are beyond the dry service and wet mopping procedures. They can incorporate buffing, spray buffing, condition/restoring and burnishing or scrubbing/cleaning procedures. In heavily soiled environments the stripping procedure is performed on a periodic schedule too.

Coating Maintenance Procedures

The periodic coating maintenance procedures are methods of maintenance that address the gloss of the floor finish. There are several methods for accomplishing this objective. The method for any facility will be determined when selecting the chemical system for the floor covering.

Dry buffing, polishing and burnishing are procedures that are independent of cleaning and stripping / re-sealing procedures. Buffing can be performed on some floor finishes, however limited results can be expected.

Spray buffing is a method of maintenance that has been used for many years in the maintenance of vinyl type floor coverings. It is important to point out that the spray buffing procedure is a maintenance method for restoring gloss to the floor finish. It is not a cleaning procedure although many individuals try to use it as one.

When the spray buffing service procedure is used as a cleaning procedure, it effectively encapsulates soil in the floor finish. Although it may appear to be cleaning the floor it is really spreading the soil evenly across the floor causing it to slowly brown out.

Scrubbing and Re-coating

Scrubbing and re-coating is a general term that encompasses all of the scrubbing service procedures. There are different classifications of scrubbing that require slightly different procedures. The primary difference centres on the amount of soil or finish to be removed.

The aggressiveness of the scrubbing procedure will be dictated by the environment and traffic conditions. Soil that gets ground into the floor surface will become embedded. Also, during the life cycle of the hard floor maintenance programmes that utilise chemical coating systems, soil will ultimately become encapsulated in floor finish. Encapsulated soil lowers the appearance factor and causes the floor to look dirty all the time. The primary reasons to scrub and re-coat vinyl floor coverings is to remove that embedded soil or to remove surface coats of floor finish that may have soil encapsulated in it and replenish the protective film.

There is a misconception in the floor care industry that floors must be stripped annually. This is not always the case. A properly maintained floor can go many months, often years between a full strip and refinish. This is usually due to establishing good daily floor care and periodic floor care services.

Stripping and Refinishing (re-sealing)

The definition of stripping is to remove all pre-existing coats of seal and/or finish. Refinishing is the application of new layers of sealer and floor finish.
Some manufacturers of vinyl floor coverings will recommend products and procedures as maintenance requirements. If these are available, follow the instructions for the stripping and refinishing procedures. If they are not available, find out the type of floor and the manufacturer if possible and get in touch with them for any special instruction.

Investigation into the floor surface may take some time, but it can save you money in replacement costs should you damage a floor covering.

Stripping is the most important function of the vinyl floor maintenance programme. It is the beginning and the end. Everything else in-between rests on the foundation that is provided by this service. The function of stripping (removing all existing coatings) is necessary at the end of the floor maintenance life cycle. The function of re-applying coatings is the beginning of the new cycle. It is impossible to have one without the other when performing the service procedure.

Stripping is the least performed of the hard floor maintenance services. It requires the most investment of time, labour and money. Careful consideration should be used when planning for this service because of these factors. The primary objective of any hard floor maintenance should be to put as much time as possible between performing the stripping and refinishing service procedures. This is accomplished by laying a good foundation during the process of performing the service.

About Industrial Floorcare Machines (UK) Ltd

Based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire but serving the whole of the UK, IFM (UK) supply rotary scrubbers, polishers and burnishers from manufacturers such as Truvox, Victor, Numatic and Comac.

Rotary-scrubbers[1]

We are also a distributor of Selden floor maintenance products including such well respected products as Selstrip and Selspeed floor polisher strippers; Selseal, Selbrite and Diamond Brite floor polishes, and Fast Lane floor maintainer.