Pity the industrial and institutional purchasing agents who must choose floor care products for a hospital. Increase that challenge to a university campus like UCLA with 44,000+ students. Ratchet it up one more to an airport—say Atlanta International with more than 100 million passengers in 2016. While you might think buyers know what floor care products to specify and salespeople know what products to recommend, sometimes they don’t. And their mistakes can cost millions.
What’s at Stake: “Nearly 90% of customers polled stated that dirty floors, spills, and stains would negatively impact their perception of a facility.”
While floor care is complicated, research shows that the top three mistakes made in floor care decisions in the United States today are:
1. Choosing the wrong floor finish
2. Maintaining the floor incorrectly
3. Not asking the right questions
Choosing the wrong floor finish
Simply put, floor finishes help protect floors against traffic or maintenance damage so that floors last longer. While the concept appears straightforward, the challenge comes when you consider the variables. For example, how many people does the floor serve? In what type of facility is the floor located? Is the floor in an area where there are weather extremes that impact inside and outside traffic? As facility maintenance personnel make buying decisions two of the most popular choices are percent solids and gloss, both of which have their challenges.
Percent Solids: A 20% non-volatile solids finish would need five coats to equal the same protective qualities as a 25%, which would only need four coats. Although the 20% product by itself is less expensive, there are higher labor costs for that additional (5TH) application. Also, added downtime: the facility cannot be used during the extra coating and drying period.
Gloss: For most facilities, high gloss floors are the epitome of a well-maintained building—the higher the gloss, the better. However, glossy floors show every scratch and scuff, so they require more maintenance and upkeep resulting in a higher overall cost.
Maintaining the floor incorrectly
Here are some examples of poor floor maintenance.
- Failure to dust-mop routinely
- Failure to place and vacuum “walk-off” mats at all entries regularly
- Failure to clean with a neutral detergent
- Failure to burnish occasionally to remove scratch and scuff marks
- Failure to re-coat with proper floor finishes.
Routine maintenance will prevent the ever more-expensive full strip and refill necessary when maintenance is not done correctly. Equally important, however, is to recognize routine maintenance needs to include appropriate products and a suitable schedule.
“We take our floors for granted, but if we choose the correct floor finishes, maintain the floors we choose, and make sure we ask lots of questions, our floors will serve us well for a long, long time.” – Rebecca Kaufold, Chemist
This mistake in floor care relates to the other two. It happens when the purchasing agent hasn’t asked his maintenance crew what they’re seeing as problem areas; or the architect has not studied the type and amount of foot traffic or has not studied floor products for the end use in question when designing the building; or the floor product sales representative has not asked the purchasing agent, the architect, and the facility’s maintenance crew exactly what they are doing with the existing floors. Lastly, these groups may fail to ask the people living, working or simply walking in the building what they want or need in flooring.
Floors don’t take care of themselves
Maintenance-free floors are a misnomer. In reality, maintenance-free translates to a willingness to replace the floors more frequently in lieu of re-finishing, treating and maintaining.
To aid in this area, Spartan Chemical makes a line of resilient floor care products, which includes floor finish products, floor finish removal compounds, and day-to-day floor maintenance solutions that can be applied with mops, spray bottles, etc. and are available through their vast network of distributors in the U.S..
Training in proper floor care is also available through Spartan’s CleanCheck™ Training System, via brochures and online charts, and through their maintenance programs and instructional documents.
More solutions and lists of good questions are presented to help stakeholders make the hard (sometimes tradeoff) decisions and avoid costly mistakes.
About the Author:
Rebecca Kaufold has a BS in Molecular Biology and an MBA. She is the chemist responsible for new product development in coatings for resilient, wood and concrete substrates. She is delighted when overflow calls from Spartan’s customer service are routed to her so she can understand how to make her floor products just a little better for the customer.