Hard floors - wear and tear versus care

29th of December 2022
Hard floors - wear and tear versus care
Hard floors - wear and tear versus care

In what types of facilities are the hard floors most at risk of wear and tear? And where does a pristine appearance matter most? Ann Laffeaty looks at the sliding scale of wear versus care and finds out where floorcare needs to be a top priority.

The floors of some facilities are seemingly in constant use. Industrial environments and warehouses receive particularly heavy traffic from fork-lifts, trolleys and safety boots for example. And airport terminal buildings are constantly being criss-crossed by people wearing high heels and dragging heavy trolley cases.

But in these type of facilities the appearance of the floor is arguably less important than that of, say, a smart shopping centre or an upmarket bank. Here the customer will expect to be wowed by the pristine appearance of their surroundings - and the spotless floors will contribute to their impression.
But are there any facilities that receive particularly high levels of traffic but where a spotless appearance is also crucial?

Facilities such as hotels and shopping centres need to keep their floors clean to convey a professional image, says Filmop’s business development manager Paolo Scapinello. “A high shine can take on a greater importance when the floor is made of wood or polished stone,” he said. “For example, marble and granite surfaces tend to lose their brilliance when they are not properly treated.”

He adds that hospital floors also need to be cleaned frequently and thoroughly with the use of the right equipment. And the floors of airports, railways, bus stations and metros all come with a high risk of wear and tear because these hubs tend to be used by a constant stream of people, many wielding trolley cases.

Material is key

“The floors of schools, shopping centres and large sport arenas also carry a high risk of wear and tear,” he said. “The material with which the floor is made plays a key role here since wooden floors tend to become damaged more quickly, particularly if they are located in congested areas.”

He says floors will become more quickly worn in high-traffic environments where the cleaning regime is less than adequate. “These high-risk areas will require frequent cleaning to prevent dust and dirt particles from becoming embedded into the surface,” he said.

However, good floorcare begins with an effective mat outside the facility, according to Scapinello. “This will prevent dirt being trodden in from the outside to the inside,” he said. “It is also essential to use cleaning tools that are suitable for the particular type of floor and level of traffic in question. And it doesn’t matter how good your equipment is - if you clean too infrequently in high-traffic areas you will still risk your floor deteriorating over time.”

He says dust needs to be frequently removed from a hard floor, particularly if that floor is in constant use. “Fine dirt is subject to continuous friction and this could impact on any floor treatment, ultimately resulting in a loss of brilliance,” he said. “It is pivotal to choose professional dusting systems that are suitable for the type of surface and the size of the environment to be cleaned.”

Worst culprits

Filmop offers synthetic and cotton mops as well as microfibre products with long loops for higher collection power. The company also offers disposable cloths impregnated with mineral oils which are said to be able to remove even the finest of dust particles.

Heavy footfall, mechanical load and spillages are the worst culprits when it comes to damaging a hard floor, says Kärcher’s scrubber dryer product manager Daniel Friz.

“High traffic and furniture items such as chairs and tables will put a floor at risk of wear and tear,” he said. “In addition, spillages of water or acid can place a heavy burden on wooden floors. And loose dirt such as stones or sand will also have an impact and create scratches in the same way that sandpaper does.”

Luxury hotels and upmarket stores are a particular challenge when it comes to cleaning, he says. “These types of environments attract heavy usage but the optical appearance of the floor is very important,” he said.  “Factors such as maintenance, cleaning and protection are a big issue.”

Regular cleaning with the right tools and detergents is crucial to keep floors looking pristine, according to Friz. “All detergents should contain ingredients that protect and support the natural resistance of the floor while the regular removal of solid and liquid dirt will prevent it from spreading further in the building,” he said. “Dust and sand will increase the mechanical wear of the floor if these substances are not cleared away by correct maintenance cleaning. So dust - which would otherwise be swirled up into the air - must be removed.

He says the type of scrubber dryer or sweeper chosen to clean the floor will depend on the amount of debris, the size and character of the dirt and the type of floor in question - whether it is made of concrete, tiles, wood or natural stone for example.

“Cleaning intervals should be based on the frequency of use and the amount of dirt involved,” he adds. “And periodic spot cleaning will help to maintain a good appearance while also protecting the floors from damage. Small, compact machines are a good choice here.”

He advocates the use of scrubber dryers since these offer a high level of mechanical cleaning power while also leaving the floor dry. ”Water left behind on the floor after manual mopping will increase the risk of slips and falls while also leading to a continuous build-up of residual dirt and detergent, known as a grey haze,” he said. “After a while this can only be removed by aggressive deep cleaning.”

He adds high traffic hard floors that are liable to soils and spills require daily scrubbing. “Dirt entry into the building can be significantly reduced by sweeping the outside area, which will also reduce the effort needed for cleaning inside,” he said. “And this will reduce the cost of indoor cleaning and save detergent and water while also prolonging the life of a sensitive floor.”

Tiled floors are particularly at risk of wear and tear according to Hako’s technology trainer and consultant Klaus Serfezi. “Heavy loads from shopping trolleys, luggage trolleys, pallet trucks and other items that are pulled or pushed across the floor are all liable to cause damage,” he said. “When choosing a hard floor it is important to weigh up the general risks of wear and tear in the building and to use a covering that is of the appropriate quality for the conditions on site. Buying cheaply means saving at the wrong end.”

Wheeled vehicles that are driven, pushed or pulled across the floor will create the most damage, he says. “Large weights, small wheels or rollers that have a very high specific pressure under high loads are particularly likely to harm the floor covering,” said Serfezi. “In the same way, small hard objects such as grit can get in front of a wheel and block it, leading to scratches if pushed with force.”

He says the more a floor is subjected to wear, the more important cleaning becomes. “Cleaning will not actually prevent a floor covering from showing signs of wear under heavy load, but it will delay this process,” he said. “By removing dirt regularly you will take away the issue of additional mechanical stress. And that means in addition to the normal daily maintenance cleaning, spot cleaning may also need to be carried out.”

Every floor will show signs of wear and tear at some point, according to Serfezi. “There is no rule of thumb for how often a floor should be cleaned,” he adds. “The schedule needs to be adapted according to the dirt accumulation.”

Hako offers a range of scrubber dryers and vacuum sweepers and the company carries out site visits to prospective customers. “This way the machines can be equipped with the right brushes or pads and the appropriate chemicals to ensure the machine is suited to the building,”
said Serfezi.

Airports and schools are among the environments where the floors are at the highest risk of wear and tear, says IPC product manager Paolo Bassanini. “These floors have a heavy footfall which means they are under particular pressure,” he said. “They will also be subject to shopping trolleys, cabin bags, wheeled cases and forklifts - and these will cause wear and tear to the protective film on the floor. Any spills could also result in permanent stains plus a dulling of the shine.”

A daily clean will prolong the life of the surface treatment while a periodic background clean will help to restore the floor’s appearance, he says. “This will keep the floor looking pristine.” IPC offers a range of scrubbers dryers plus single-disc machines.

Shiny and clean

So, where is the overlap between excess wear and the need for high levels of care most evident? Hospitals are a key case in point because these are subject to high levels of traffic along with wheelchairs and trolleys, says Kärcher’s Daniel Friz. “Clean floors are crucial in a hospital because dirt and dust are breeding grounds for micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses,” he says.

“However, in environments such as hotels it is also important to have clean, shiny floors plus an effective cleaning regime. It is these little details that determine whether or not the guest feels comfortable, so hotel managers need to create a pleasant, reassuring atmosphere and a clean environment that customers will equate with safety.”

Filmop’s Paolo Scapinello believes floors should be kept clean in every facility - whether it receives high traffic or a relatively low use, however. And IPC’s Paolo Bassanini concurs. “The look of the floor needs to provide an immediate impression of cleanliness which means that all floors should offer an elegant and clean appearance,” he concluded.


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