If a floor isn’t maintained and cleaned properly, then its appearance will deteriorate.

As the scope and depth of hard flooring environments continue to evolve, building owners, renovators and designers are spoilt for choice. It is, however, crucial to consider the focused and balanced floor care regime that your selected flooring will require in order to optimise the lifecycle of the floor.

The National Contract Cleaners Association (NCCA) says that one of the problems that can contribute to a poorly maintained floor is contract cleaning companies trying to cut costs to meet the often tight budgets of facilities managers. Instead of focusing on proactively maintaining and cleaning a floor, they end up embarking on a more reactive cleaning regimen where the floor is only cleaned when it ‘looks’ dirty. In some countries, such as Australia, the contract cleaning industry is policed more stringently. If a cleaning company provides a much lower quote than its tendering competitors, the company will be audited and everything from their cleaning equipment to the chemicals that they use will be scrutinised. South Africa still has a way to go in terms of this type of industry policing.

One way to hold contract cleaners responsible for the services they deliver is to specify the output instead of the input. Instead of listing the cleaning equipment, staff and chemicals that need to be used for example, rather specify the output that must be delivered so that the cleaning company can use their flooring knowledge and expertise to prescribe the required cleaning routine and be accountable for the solutions delivered.

For example: The cost of maintaining a hard wood floor can be determined on a monthly basis, but a better approach is to look at lifecycle costing so that the focus is on maintaining the floor’s appearance level over the expected lifecycle of 10 to 15 years. If the aesthetic appearance of the floor declines in such a way that an early replacement becomes necessary, then the flooring replacement cost will far exceed what would have been spent on proper cleaning and maintenance.

A hard floor generally looks its best upon installation, but it if isn’t maintained and cleaned properly, then its appearance will deteriorate. While restoration is an option, it can also be very expensive. Restoration and replacement of a floor before the end of its lifecycle is always a more costly alternative to investing in appropriate floor care and maintenance.

Estimating the cost of cleaning
Following the NCCA publication titled “A Guide to the Fundamentals of Estimating and Tendering”, the Association decided to draw up this easy reference check list to assist estimators in eliminating errors in the price make-up of the contract being tendered for. To establish a contract price, the cost of the following main components needs to be determined:

•    The cost of labour
•    The cost of materials
•    The cost of equipment and machinery
•    The cost of overheads
•    The profit mark-up of the chosen cleaning company

Other aspects that could lead to a higher or lower quote from a cleaning company include the location of the site (if it is a distance away from the cleaning company, this could impact the traveling costs), available parking for cleaning vans and vehicles, how easy it is for the company to offload cleaning equipment and materials, the availability of water and electricity and the number of persons working and/or visiting the building daily, as heavy traffic could slow down cleaning output and in turn dictate the cleaning labour on site.

Aesthetic deterioration isn’t always a result of poor maintenance
It can happen that a floor’s appearance deteriorates rapidly as a result of discrepancies in what was specified and what was in fact installed in a project. When a cleaning company arrives at a building with specified chemicals and equipment to clean an Italian polished concrete floor for example, and finds that a lower cost, inferior substitute was installed, then the floor finish will deteriorate more quickly than expected regardless of the level of cleaning and maintenance that was implemented. Many times, an owner or facility manager wants to maintain cheaper imports according to European maintenance standards, but the flooring product itself wasn’t manufactured according to European standards.

The three types of dirt that can be found on floors are dry dirt, wet/sticky dirt, and black heel dirt and scuff marks. Entrance matting can help reduce the amount of dirt tracked into a building, but the remainder of the dirt needs to be removed professionally. Dry dirt, for example, isn’t always noticeable which can lead cleaners to try to cut costs. Building owners and facilities managers need to be aware of the fact that this type of dirt needs to be removed daily in order to avoid premature flooring failure and replacements.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.ncca.co.za for the information contained in this article.