Why care about a hard floor?

2nd of November 2021
Why care about a hard floor?
Why care about a hard floor?

Why do hard floors need regular care? Ann Laffeaty looks at arguments for regular cleaning and maintenance and asks manufacturers about the types of activities that can lead to the most floor damage.

It is usually taken as read that hard floors need regular care. But why? Tasks such as cleaning, sweeping, scrubber drying and polishing are all time-consuming and expensive. So, what is the worst that could happen if a floor were to be left uncleaned and unmaintained?

Soils and contaminants could cause serious safety risks if they were allowed to remain on a surface, says Denis Rawlins’ managing director James White.

“Poorly-maintained floors are the source of many accidents, both in public venues and in the workplace,” he said. “Whether it is a wet shopping centre entrance, a supermarket aisle spillage or a build-up of grease in a factory, floors that have been badly maintained are the cause of thousands of injuries each year.”

He says most businesses view slips and trips as inevitable, blaming factors such as human error and adverse weather conditions. “However, most accidents of this nature are avoidable if a proper floorcare regime is practised,” he said.

Besides reducing the risk of falls he claims a regular floor maintenance regime is also important for retaining a smart and professional appearance.

“If the soil is lifted on a regular basis, daily cleaning to remove the day’s dirt will be sufficient and will avoid the need for periodic deep cleans,” he said.

Denis Rawlins’ new Kaivac AutoVac Stretch is designed for rapid response cleaning. The machine uses a drop-down squeegee with microfibre spreader pad plus a powerful wet and dry vacuum to remove the soiled solution in one pass and store it in a separate recovery tank.

A neglected floor would result in damage that could not be addressed using regular cleaning methods, claims Kärcher’s floorcare product manager Christian Mrowka. “A costly and time-consuming deep-clean would be required and the floor’s lifespan would be shortened.

“And repairing or replacing the floor would be significantly more expensive - and involve more effort - than regular intermediate cleaning.”

Hard floors need a sustained level of care for several reasons, he says. “Cleaning removes the dust which would otherwise swirl up in the air and lead to dusty surfaces plus poor indoor air quality,” said Mrowka. “The regular removal of dirt also prevents soil and grime from spreading further into the building. And there is strong evidence that floors may be contaminated with high levels of pathogenic organisms. With regular cleaning, the degree of contamination can be kept very low.”

The correct tools and detergents can help to prolong the life of a floor, according to Mrowka. “Dust and sand increase the level of wear so these substances need to be removed via maintenance cleaning,” he said. “And there are ingredients in detergents and cleaning agents that will protect the floor and support its natural resistance.”

An uncleaned floor would compromise hygiene and result in a poorer appearance and potential safety risks, he said. “The floor would eventually become slippery, and the larger dirt particles could represent a tripping hazard.”

Kärcher offers a range of scrubber dryers plus a full line of walk-behind and ride-on sweepers. These come with various accessories including soft, hard, antistatic roller and side brushes depending on the floor type and the level of dirt involved.

Floors attract more dirt than any other surface - and a spotless floor is a valuable business card for any company, says IPC’s content marketing and social media manager Chiara Molardi.

“Nowadays it is not simply a question of floor cleaning and maintenance – it is also about disinfection and sanitisation,” she says. “The aim should be to reduce the spread of microorganisms and pathogens responsible for infections.”

She adds that a dull film will appear over the surface of a floor that has not been properly cleaned and maintained. “This will be detrimental to the shine while the appearance of stains, dust and streaks will make the floor look dirty and unattractive.” says Molardi. She says hard floors should be cleaned frequently - even those experiencing low levels of traffic.

“Floors can easily be damaged by heavy loads, wheels, dirty shoes, high heels and by dragging chairs and tables across them,” she said. “And accidental spills of substances such as oily liquids or glues will also be detrimental.”

IPC offers a range of ride-on and walk behind sweepers plus scrubber dryers, mops and vacuums.

Damage surfaces

Floors represent five per cent of a building’s total value according to Filmop’s export area manager Paolo Scapinello. “Regular care is therefore essential to prolong the floor’s life and for aesthetic and hygiene reasons,” he said.

If dirt is not removed from an untreated floor it will damage the surface and reduce the floor’s lifespan, he adds. “And if a treated floor is not cleaned regularly, the treatment itself may deteriorate and there will be a need for costly restoration interventions,” said Scapinello.

The type of damage a floor receives will depend on the climate, season, traffic and building type, he says. “The external dirt brought inside via people’s feet could be fine dust in summer or mud mixed with de-icing salt in winter,” he explains. “Regular cleaning is essential on all types of floors - even those with low traffic - to ensure a long life. And regular cleaning reduces maintenance costs and avoids the need for extra interventions.”

Filmop’s Baggy Kit is designed for the quick collection of solid waste, liquid and semi-liquid substances. The company also offers Top-Down hermetic buckets on its wringer trolleys for pre-soaking plus Equodose for soaking on demand.

Prochem sales representative Stuart Macmillan agrees hard floors need regular care to combat wear and tear. “Without care and attention, natural phenomena such as sunlight, rain, sand and grit would speed up deterioration rates,” he said. “Even floors that attract low levels of traffic can be damaged by contaminants such as wind-blown particles.”

Most floor contaminants are carried in by foot which means regular sweeping, vacuuming and dust mopping are essential, he says. “Certain types of damage such as deep scratch marks on wood may eventually require sanding - and that’s when the process becomes expensive,” said Macmillan.

“Pressure from high heels and mechanical traffic such as metal trolleys will also eventually cause permanent damage.”

He says a quality entrance mat is just as important as a floorcare system. “This will remove most of the dust, sand, mud and moisture before it can contaminate and damage the floor surface.”

Extend lifespan

Prochem offers a range of hard floor maintenance products including R602 Proseal for porous or semi-porous floorings such as vinyl and linoleum; C503 Proshine for protecting the floor and C502 Protreat for burnishing the polished layer and promoting a longer life.

Regular mopping and scrubbing can remove up to 80 per cent of contaminants according to Hako’s application technology trainer and consultant Klaus Serfezi. “Standard cleaning should be sufficient in most situations besides hygiene-critical environments such as hospitals, nursing homes and the food sector,” he said. “Regular maintenance will extend the floor’s lifespan – but poor cleaning methods could damage the floor.”

He says every floor will eventually show signs of wear, no matter how much traffic it has. “However, the strain on floors in supermarkets and DIY stores due to the use of shopping trolleys and pallet stackers plus the sheer number of customers is likely to be much more severe than in, say, a department store or furniture shop where customers simply stroll around the place leisurely,” he said.

 “And industrial floors have to bear the additional impact of extreme mechanical stress caused by forklifts and other industrial trucks.” Hako offers sweepers, scrubber dryers and vacuums including DustStop for low-dust sweeping and Hako AntiBac for antibacterial cleaning.

So, what does a good floorcare plan look like? There is no one-size-fits-all answer, according to Serfezi. “It depends on the type of traffic and soiling,” he said. “Not every floor requires daily cleaning, but it is important to adapt the frequency of maintenance cleaning to the extent of soiling.”

Kärcher’s Christian Mrowka agrees a good floorcare plan will be dependent on floor type and soiling levels. “Scrubber dryers are ideal on high-traffic floors because they offer high mechanical power and leave no water behind,” he claims. “Residual water when using a mop will increase the risk of slips and lead to a continuous build-up of dirt and detergent resulting in a grey-haze - which can only be removed with aggressive deep cleaning.”

Kärcher’s sweepers product manager Marciliano Schneider adds: “Where high levels of dirt have accumulated, a sweeper should be used followed by a clean with a scrubber dryer. And in particularly dusty areas, the whirling up of dust can be prevented by an active filter system.”

A good floor maintenance plan should begin with a thorough clean, says IPC’s Chiara Molardi. “After deep cleaning and waxing, a regular maintenance regime via sweeping, vacuuming or damp cleaning will keep the floor clean to the best possible standard,” she said.

Porous limestone and sandstone floors should be sealed and cleaned with a scrubber dryer or a single-disc rotary machine plus a neutral detergent, says Prochem’s Stuart Macmillan. He adds polished marble and granite should be regularly mopped, swept and treated with a hard floor maintenance spray buff product. And vinyl and rubber should be sealed, polished and maintained with a hard floor maintainer spray plus a single-disc high speed machine and a red pad.

Prevention first

“Such floors should be swept daily and damp-mopped with a mild degreaser,” he said. “Wood also benefits from sealing with a quality wood seal and maintainer.”

Denis Rawlins’ James White advocates a dual approach to cleaning. “If the soil is lifted daily it will avoid the need for more intensive methods, such as scrubbing and deep cleaning,” he said. “A high-flow fluid extraction system will loosen the dirt and suction it away again to leave a clean, dry floor. And a good spill response will help to reduce slipping risks and keep down-time to a minimum.”

However, prevention should be the first step in any floorcare plan, says Filmop’s Paolo Scapinello. “An outside mat will remove the coarse dirt from people’s shoes and an inside mat will take care of residual soiling,” he said. “Cleaning must then start with dusting in environments such as schools, offices and airports, and with pre-soaked cloths in healthcare facilities. It is only after the dust has been removed that floor washing and disinfection can be carried out successfully.”


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