My friend PeDIR knows what he’s doing when it comes to hard floor care. He’s got all kinds of tips, tricks and new technology to save time and backaches.
PDIR’s credo has four parts:
- P for Preventative
- D for Daily
- I for Interim
- R for Restorative
All four processes come into play to have beautiful floors that will stand the test of time and traffic, especially in the challenges of our harsh Montana and Wyoming winters. I have to give a shout out to the team at Lander High School in beautiful Lander, Wyoming. They have floors you could practically eat off of no matter what time of day it is in that school. It’s truly a showcase for what high traffic floors CAN look like. They were awarded the Bronze Medal by the U.S. News Best High Schools for 2014!
Now, let’s spend a little time on each process.
Preventative Floor Care:
This always starts on the other side of the entryway, out in the elements. Take a walk around your facility to see where your matting is in relation to high traffic areas and what kind of shape your mats are in. First of all, do they need to be replaced? What type of mats are you using? Are they doing the job of keeping the dirt in the mat and off the floor?
Ideally, you should be using three types of mats:
1. The outdoor scraper mat which traps heavy soil and allows water to drain away freely.
2. The indoor scraper/wiper mat. We like the construction of the AndersenWaterhog. The Waterhog mats have a hi lo pattern in the resilient rubber backing which creates a water dam keeping moisture in the mat and off your floors.
3. The indoor wiper mat is a finishing mat which traps finer dirt before stepping out onto your floors.
How much matting do you need? You should have a 10-15 foot run of a combination of the mats listed above to be able to remove 80-90% of the contaminants from entering the building. Not only does proper matting keep the dirt off of the floor but also keeps the dust out of the air and improves your indoor air quality decreasing the load on your HVAC system.
Daily Floor Care:
Dust mop daily using clean microfiber dust mop heads or vacuum your hard floors with a backpack vac like ProTeam. If you operate a facility where you need to avoid trip hazards and would like to vacuum quietly during the day, check out this GoFree Pro battery backpack vacuum.
Vacuum and clean mats daily to maximize their effectiveness. A good tip is to vacuum the mat as usual, then flip it over and vacuum the rubber backing with an upright so the beater brush loosens the ground in dirt onto the floor. Flip it back over and then vacuum up the loose dirt and the top again.
Remove heel scuff marks with a Merlin Eraser Sponge and clean up spills.
Interim Floor Care:
Pressure wash your matting as needed:
Prespray with a light detergent. Pressure wash swiping back and forth across the mat until all dirt and grit is removed. Hang to dry overnight.
Mopping or Auto Scrubbing:
In some facilities, this is also a daily process. Many facilities have chosen to use equipment with electrically charged water, like the Tennant T5 ECH2Omodel. This eliminates the need for chemicals and leaves no residue on the floor. It also adds years to your equipment since there is no chemical build up to maintain. Take a look here at the money you can save over time by using a machine with ECH2O.
In restrooms with tile and grout to take care of, a couple of great time savers are the Kaivac 1750 which works like a pressure washer and a vacuum. Tennant has just released the Q12 which is also great for getting into small spaces, in corners and up the walls. It really blasts the dirt and stains out of your grout lines with pressure that will go as high as 1200 psi for your really tough jobs. Click here to watch the demo.
Buffing or Burnishing: Propane, Electric or Battery??
When someone walks through the front door of your building, they will have developed a positive or negative first impression within the first five seconds based on how it looks, how it smells and how it sounds.
To really pop a shine on your floors, you’ll need to buff or burnish depending on the intensity of the shine required for your facility.
Use a low speed buffer (150-175 rpm) or a high speed buffer (200-400 rpm’s) to polish your floors. If you are going to spray buff with about 1 part finish and 2 parts water, then you’ll need to use the high speed buffer. Be sure to throw buffing pads away when they get to about half their original thickness or if when you hold them up horizontally, they aren’t stiff anymore but droop down.
Retail stores, medical facilities and schools really want that mirror like reflection on their floors which requires burnishing. When you’re burnishing, you’re actually planing the floor taking off embedded dirt and scratches. A burnisher runs at 1000-2500 rpm’s.
You can go with electric, propane, or battery burnishers, listed in order of cost. When shopping for a burnisher, always check what the working rpm’s are. When under load, you’ll lose speed, so check your spec sheet to see what you can truly get out of it.
What are the advantages of using battery over propane or electric?
- The team at Lander High School uses the Tennant B10 which is a rider. They were thrilled that they could operate it during the day and cut down on night hours because of the quietness and the HEPA rated dust control option. Less night hours means less electricity costs.
- No cords to haul around saving time and man hours.
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of propane burnishers. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless, colorless, tasteless and non-irritating. Symptoms range from a slight headache at 200 ppm to confusion, headache and nausea at 1000-2000 ppm to fatal at 4000 ppm. If you operate a propane burnisher, be sure that it’s equipped with a catalytic converter and a CO and emissions monitoring alarm tied to an automatic shut off. Also, while operating any propane burnisher, set your building’s HVAC system to 100% outdoor air and exhaust the return air.
- A battery burnisher has a higher price point but a longer life. A propane burnisher typically lasts about five years. The battery burnisher will go strong for over ten years.
Check out this cost comparison analysis between a 24″ Tennant B7 and a 24″ propane burnisher.
Thirty or forty years ago, carnauba wax was most commonly used. Now we use synthetic finishes. They are made from polymer emulsions. A typical floor finish has 18-22% solids – when the volatile ingredients evaporate, that’s the amount of polymer we have left on the floor.
There are harder finishes and softer finishes. To choose which finish to apply, look past the finish and focus on how you will care for the floor and what equipment you’ll be using to maintain it. How often do you clean it? Less? You’ll need a harder finish. More often? You can use a softer finish with lower solids. High traffic? Then use a high solids finish.
Wet Stripping: Why spend all the time, backache and risk of falling when you can dry strip? Let’s look at that process instead.
Dry Stripping: Eliminate the time consuming steps, and excessive elbow grease that it takes to wet strip and invest in a T3 or a Square Scrub. If you’re in the market for a square orbital dry strip machine, we prefer the T3 for a few reasons. It’s been through several redesigns and has big bushings that can handle the vibration. It also serves as a general purpose autoscrubber – so what a bonus! You can use it wet or dry and if you get the ECH20 option, you’ll be saving on chemicals and wear and tear on your crew.
Here’s the process with Tennant’s T3 Orbital Scrubber.
- First, dust mop your floor. Then dry strip the area with the T3 using a 3M prep pad. This will take off 2 coats of finish.
- The T3 doubles as a scrubber, so go over the area again rinsing with plain water. Your floors will be dry and ready to go.
- Then apply two coats of finish. When spreading finish, spread with just a flat microfiber or nylon mop head. Nylon will release the finish much better than cotton. Don’t pour too far ahead of your mop or it will start to set.
A conventional class room would take two to three hours from start to finish using this process.
When we demonstrated this at our last seminar one of the custodians burst out “I just want to cry sitting here watching this. It looks so easy!”
PeDIR takes great pride in his floors and it shows! Floors that pop a shine make all the difference when that front door opens and your valued customers or patrons walk in!