A cleaning and maintenance guide that covers everything there is to know.

The appearance as well as the life expectancy of any floorcovering is directly related to the type of floor maintenance selected. This should entail a step-by-step programme that can be followed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, while also incorporating the manufacturer’s guidelines for the chosen floor type.

There are certain action steps that are universal across all floor types which will ensure that the floor not only keeps its good looks but also performs according to its expected lifespan. When delving deeper, it becomes apparent how critical it is to follow a cleaning and maintenance programme per floor type as well, as each has its own unique characteristics and performance potential.

8 Reasons for proper cleaning

1.    To prevent injuries due to tripping or slipping. Bad practice in floor cleaning is itself a major cause of accidents.
2.    To beautify the floor.
3.    To remove stains, dirt, litter and obstructions.
4.    To remove grit and sand which scratch and wear down the surface.
5.    To remove allergens, particularly dust.
6.    To prevent wear to the surface (e.g. by using a floor wax or protective sealant).
7.    To sanitise the environment.
8.    To maintain optimum traction.

A typical maintenance plan would include the following:
•    Areas to be vacuumed daily
•    Areas to be vacuumed every two days
•    Areas to be vacuumed twice weekly
•    Areas to be vacuumed weekly
•    Daily spot and stain removal
•    Spot and stain removal when required
•    Monthly deep clean of very-heavy-traffic areas
•    Half-yearly deep clean of very-heavy-traffic areas
•    Quarterly deep clean of heavy-traffic areas
•    Half-yearly deep clean of medium-traffic areas
•    Annual deep clean of light-traffic areas
•    Deep clean as and when required (low-use areas)

Walk-off mats or dirt-barrier systems

Ideally, dirt-barrier matting or walk-off mats should be fitted where possible to assist in removing foot-borne soil before it enters the building. Statistics show that on average at least 60% of dirt within buildings is brought in by foot traffic from outside. A good dirt barrier system is absolutely critical for maintaining the appearance and preserving the investment of interior flooring.

For entrance matting to be effective, it is generally accepted that at least 1.8 metres of walking distance be used. If space is too confined to allow this distance, consider installing both an exterior and an interior walk-off mat or dirt-barrier system. The more steps taken on these mats, the greater the amount of dirt blocked from entering a building. The walk-off mats should be of high quality, with the backing made of non-staining material so as not to discolour the floor underneath. Daily maintenance in the form of sweeping or vacuuming by cleaning staff is recommended.

End users should also consider using dirt-barrier products in specific places where people move from dirty to clean areas, for example: in front of lifts; canteens; reception areas; drink-vending machines; surrounding areas between restaurants and their kitchens; workshops and offices. Dirt-barrier systems effectively work because of friction between the sole of the shoe and the barrier matting. This process allows dirt and moisture to collect in the open spaces in the pile.

In order for the dirt-barrier system to retain its highest integrity, it is recommended that an industrial upright rotating-brush vacuum cleaner, coupled with periodic cleaning with a dry-compound or water-extraction system be used on a regular basis.

CARPETS AND CARPET TILES

Regular/daily vacuuming is the most important component of carpet maintenance. It is the primary means of removing dry soil and the basis of effective soiling control. Daily vacuuming removes loose soil from the installation and keeps damage from hard, sharp dirt particles to a minimum.
Both medium- and heavy-traffic areas should be vacuumed at least once daily.

A twin-motor vacuum cleaner (in which one motor creates suction and the other drives a bristle-type brush) will give the best results. However, although twin-motor vacuum cleaners are more efficient than suction-only cleaners, they are unsuitable for some tufted and needlepunch carpets (which include directional-pile tiles) and wool-rich loop-piles. In these instances an appropriate suction-only cleaner should be used.

Turning to stain removal, it is essential that spills be dealt with as quickly as possible before they are allowed to soak into the pile and dry, in which case the problem becomes worse. If the spill is treated quickly, a mild detergent or even plain water will usually be sufficient. If the nature of the spills is unknown, start with clean warm water and a white cloth to remove the spillage. If the stain persists, a specialised spot-cleaning product should be used.

Dry powder extraction involves a suitable cleaning powder that should be brushed through the pile thoroughly using a cylindrical brush machine. The soil-laden powder can then be extracted with an upright, industrial-type vacuum cleaner. In the case of hot water extraction, hot water with detergent is sprayed into the carpet under pressure. The same machine using a built-in vacuum unit then removes the excess water and soil residue.

Note that the equipment used should be fitted with a positive pressure pump to obtain maximum moisture extraction. Carpets which have been cleaned using this method require up to 24 hours to dry and should not be walked on until the drying process is complete. In areas where humidity levels are important, such as computer rooms, this method should not be used.

The supplier cannot be held responsible for damage resulting from over-wetting, which could cause shrinking, mildew and/or rapid re-soiling, as application conditions are beyond his control. Special care should be taken when cleaning tiles laid on a raised floor to avoid damage to the modules.

Rotary brush cleaning is similar to hot water extraction. The main difference is the way in which the shampoo is applied to the carpet. With the former, the shampoo is brushed into the carpet using a number of brushes moving with a rotary action, as opposed to the shampoo being spray applied.

RESILIENT FLOORING

Resilient flooring includes vinyl flooring, available in both sheeting and tile formats, which can be solid vinyl, vinyl composition, backed or cushioned vinyl. Linoleum, cork and rubber are also resilients. The objective of any cleaning programme is to protect the topcoat from getting dirty and being damaged by dirt and grit. Once a topcoat becomes dull or wears off, more aggressive cleaning will be necessary, including the application of floor finishes.

Keep dirt and chemicals out by making use of entrance matting.
As noted, this is crucial to prevent grit (which acts like sandpaper) from removing the finish from the floor. Though invisible to the naked eye, chemicals in asphalt can stick to your shoes and then to the floor, causing it to discolour.

Regarding maintenance of vinyl sheeting, it is advisable to first understand what type of floor you have, be it uncoated, PU (Polyurethane) coated, or PUR (Polyurethane Reinforced) coated.

Regardless of type, they all require a form of post-installation cleaning as follows:

Post-Installation:
•    All loose dirt such as dust, grit, sand, etc. must be removed, preferably by vacuuming the floor.
•    The floor should then be cleaned using a neutral detergent, diluted as per the manufacturer’s instructions, machine scrubbed with the dirty cleaning solution being wet vacuumed off the floor afterwards. Should a wet vacuum not be available, a mop and wringer system can also be used.
•    Adhesives can be removed with an appropriate detergent/solution per manufacturer’s recommendations. As far as possible, aggressive solvents should be avoided as these may affect certain finishes. More powerful detergents can be used to remove persistent soiling that is not removed by an initial clean.
•    The floor should then be rinsed until all traces of the neutral detergent are removed, and wet vacuumed to remove all traces of water.

After carrying out the above, your daily and weekly (or interim) maintenance regime would be entirely dependent on the type of coating used on your vinyl sheeting:

Standard or uncoated products:

Daily cleaning
•    Sweep/mop using a disposable cloth system such as the Masslinn system or vacuum to remove dust and grit. (Ensure that the vacuum is fitted with a Hepa filtration system in healthcare environments.)
•    Spot or damp mop where required using a neutral detergent.

Weekly (or interim) cleaning
•    Periodic rejuvenation can be carried out if required, the frequency being determined by individual circumstances.
•    This rejuvenation can be achieved by scrubbing using a machine, followed by the application of a sealer to protect the floor.
•    A spray-buff routine is also appropriate and very effective in reducing the need for continual strip and seal.

A PU-coated floor has a Polyurethane coat applied during the production process. This is a sacrificial layer which protects the floor during installation and a short period thereafter. There is also a 24% maintenance cost saving over its typical 20-year lifespan when compared with untreated vinyl flooring.

This layer will eventually wear off and maintenance needs will then be the same as stipulated above for an uncoated product. The application of a sealer will assist in protecting your floor once the sacrificial PU coat has worn off.

A PUR-coated product is given a UV cross-linked Polyurethane coating during manufacture. This coating will not wear off and makes the product polish-/sealer-free for life. There is a 48% cost saving over a typical 20-year lifespan when compared with untreated vinyl flooring.

You should aim to follow the following maintenance regime:

Daily cleaning        
•    Sweep/mop using a disposable cloth system such as the Masslinn system or vacuum to remove dust and grit; (Ensure that the vacuum is fitted with a Hepa filtration system in healthcare environments.)
•    Spot or damp mop where required using a neutral detergent.

Weekly/Interim cleaning (depending on conditions)
•    To remove light scuff marks:
Dry buff with an ultra-high-speed (+/- 1 000 rpm) burnisher fitted with a clean 3M pink eraser or white pad.
•    To remove heavy scuff marks:
Scrub with a low-speed burnisher and a neutral detergent.

LUXURY VINYL TILES / PLANKS

More than 90% of soiling can be avoided by the use of an effective entrance matting system. When less dirt is trafficked through the entrance there will be a reduction in maintenance requirements. Regular cleaning is more cost-effective and hygienic than occasional heavy-duty cleaning. It is advisable to always follow the manufacturer’s dosage instructions regarding the use of cleaning chemicals.

Floor maintenance begins immediately after the completion of installation. The initial step is to remove any loose dirt or debris using a dry mop, broom or vacuum. Sand, construction debris and sharp-edged objects may result in irreparable damage being inflicted on the new floor. Any visible residue should be removed using a damp cloth. Once the adhesive has cured it will be difficult to remove.

If other trades are working in the building after the installation of the flooring, the floor must be protected from subsequent damage by the use of thick paper, cardboard or hardboard. No wet maintenance must take place until 72 hours have elapsed from the time of installation. This is to ensure that the adhesive has sufficient time to cure properly and develop full bond strength.

PUR-coated vinyl floors are protected by means of various cross-linked polyurethane surface treatments that are applied as part of the manufacturing process. The purpose of these treatments is to protect the floor from the damaging effects of traffic-induced scuffing and soiling, but these treatments will only be effective in conjunction with a daily and periodic cleaning and maintenance regime combined with a correctly dimensioned entrance mat. In the event of failure to effectively maintain the thin PUR coating, the user can use a sealer-based maintenance programme as described for uncoated floors.

The following recommendations are provided as a guideline, and the frequencies can be changed to optimise the appearance:

Daily
•    Mop, sweep or vacuum to remove dust and loose dirt.
•    As required, spot clean to remove stubborn marks with a neutral cleanser.
•    Dry buff or spray buff periodically. The frequency is dependent on the amount of foot traffic and the effectiveness of the daily cleaning regime.

Weekly/Monthly
•    Assess the appearance of the floor.
•    As required, scrub with a neutral cleanser diluted as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
•    If a lustre is required then the floor should be damp mopped with diluted maintainer, which should then be left to dry before being trafficked.
•    To minimise any surface scratching, external doorways should have a mat placed inside to take off any water or dirt/dust and a scraper mat outside to remove large grit and small stones. Cleaners and detergents should always be diluted as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Always follow the Health and Safety guidance provided.
•    Dry buff the floor using a rotary or high-speed machine fitted with a white pad.

To get the best results and a uniform finish when applying floor dressing:
•    Use the recommended quantities of floor dressing and the recommended number of coats.
•    Allow adequate drying time between the applications of each coat and apply at right angles to previous coat.
•    Use only recommended products and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
•    Follow and apply the above-mentioned tips and guides.

If the cleaning and maintenance regime is unable to prevent permanent damage being done to the PUR coating as a result of traffic-induced scuffing and soiling, then it may be necessary to adopt the same strip, seal and spray-buff approach.

Cushioned Vinyl (CV) floorcoverings are sensitive to cigarette burns, single-disc machines and deposit marks. They are also sensitive to certain solvents such as ketone and ester. Due to the minimal heat insulation, only smooth CV floorcoverings can be spray cleaned at low speed. Fat-soluble colourants such as shoe polish or asphalt can penetrate CV floorcoverings by means of diffusion.

Remove loose dirt before any cleaning, damp mop smooth floors and vacuum structured floors. It should be noted that cleaning agents and surface treatments may alter the appearance and properties of a floor’s surface. Test on an inconspicuous spot to find which product is suitable for your requirements and to see if the cleaning agent or surface treatment damages the floor. Once again, dirt-trapping mats in the entrances, at least 7m long, greatly reduce the amount of dirt tracked into the building.

LINOLEUM

Linoleum is made from durable, all-natural elements that can generally withstand most types of wear, especially scratches that can easily damage the patterns on other types of flooring. Since linoleum is made from natural elements, this flooring is extremely sensitive to harsh, chemical-based cleaning products and can warp if water or liquid spills are left to lie for long periods of time. The following tips are useful to incorporate into the cleaning and maintenance of a linoleum floor:
Wipe up spills immediately.
Use a damp mop, a soft rag or paper towels to wipe up spills from the floor. Abrasive pads or sponges may cause scratches and mar the appearance of the linoleum.

Use water to clean spills.
Commercial cleaning products that contain chemicals such as ammonia can permanently discolour linoleum flooring or make pits in the flooring surface. If the spill cannot be cleaned with water alone, add mild liquid dishwashing detergent to the water. This will create an effective, mild cleaning solution that can clean tough spills and won’t damage the floor.

Sweep loose debris from the floor as needed.
Although the natural properties of linoleum make the flooring resistant to dust and mites, sweeping can maintain a floor’s appearance. Use a soft broom or vacuum cleaner with soft bristle attachments to remove loose debris such as dirt or dry food remnants from the floor.

Remove scuff marks caused by shoes as they occur.
Linoleum can often be marred by scuff marks or black marks left by shoes. Rub a pencil eraser over the black marks until they disappear completely. Apply between two and three drops of baby oil to the scuff marks if a pencil eraser does not effectively remove the marks. Allow the properties of the baby oil to penetrate the black marks for two to three minutes, then use a soft rag or paper towel to wipe and clean up the solution.

Wax a linoleum floor as needed.
Purchase a linoleum wax solution from a retail store that specialises in home repair or linoleum flooring. If you want to shine your floor in between waxing sessions, add a few drops of baby oil to warm water, then use the mixture to mop the floor. The amount of baby oil you add may differ depending on the surface area that needs to be shone. Contact the manufacturer of the linoleum flooring to determine the best types of cleaning products and wax solutions to use on your floor.

CORK FLOORING

Cork flooring is an extremely reliable, solid flooring material. Its aesthetic qualities, coupled with its positive environmental impact, make this flooring material a wonderful choice for homes and office spaces. Cork flooring is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It requires low maintenance and care and is very soft on the feet. That being said, cork flooring also requires proper attention and careful cleaning.

Firstly, it’s important to regularly sweep and dust cork floors. This is also the first step in any floor cleaning process. When it comes to cork floors, it’s advisable to always use a soft-bristled broom to remove dirt and debris.

A bucket should be filled with warm water and a little dishwashing liquid or neutral chemical cleaner added. Ensure that the cleaner is neither acidic nor basic – this can damage the sealant used on cork floors. When using dishwashing soap, use a minimal amount as an excess of soap in the water will leave a film on the floor once it dries.

Use a soft-sponge mop to wipe down the floor and wring out the mop well before starting. When it comes to cleaning cork flooring, less is definitely more. Any excess amount of water will quickly saturate the cork, which can cause the joints of the flooring to swell. Gently wipe down with a soft, micro-fibre cloth and allow the floor to air dry.

It should be noted that cork floors are easy to maintain, only requiring a mild detergent and a vacuum cleaner. For daily/weekly maintenance, you can also use a broom handle with a cloth on the end. The removable cloth contains a substance with antistatic characteristics, which will clean all the dust and prevent it from settling on the floor.

RUBBER FLOORING

Two of the best qualities of rubber flooring are its extreme durability and low maintenance requirement. Most liquids will not stain or damage the surface, and it is relatively difficult to damage the material through physical impact due to its resilient yet yielding nature. It is also resistant to burns and will not support the growth of mould or mildew. Dirt and debris will rest gently on the surface of a rubber floor, easily removed periodically.

After a rubber floor is installed it should not be cleaned in any manner for at least 72 hours. The adhesive holding the sheets or tiles in place needs time to set and get a firm hold. Any debris, be it from foot traffic or air ducts, on rubber flooring can be cleaned by means of sweeping or vacuuming it up on a regular basis. The frequency will depend on how often the space is used, and the manner in which it is used.

If there is a stain on a rubber floor, a mop can be used to wet wash it without worrying about damaging the material. Just ensure that the cleaning agent used is not acidic or acetone-based and doesn’t contain turpentine. These can all stain a rubber floor, causing permanent and irreparable damage.

As always, the ratio of water to cleaning agent will determine how concentrated and effective the cleaner will be. In all cases the water used should be warm to hot, and the mix should be changed frequently to keep it clean.

A rubber floor conditioner can be applied to the surface of the floor with a cloth by hand, or using a professional-grade buffing machine. When using a machine, be sure to operate it at less than 350 revolutions per minute, or risk damaging the floor. This will help to restore the lustrous shine that the rubber floor had when it was first installed.

By following a proven series of steps, managers can bring resilience to their floor care programme and ensure that the floors in their facilities are maintained at an optimal level.

When cleaning wet-pour rubber used in children’s playgrounds, be it recycled or EPDM rubber, a hosepipe can be used to wash the dirt gathered on the floor. For stubborn stains and soiling, a wet/dry vacuum cleaner may be used in conjunction with a mild detergent and warm water. This will also bring the bright colours back to life.

CONCRETE MAINTENANCE

Although water alone can remove dirt from concrete, cleaning chemicals followed by power washing and scrubbing may be required to remove tough stains. Many contractors recommend spraying the stain with the recommended chemical and waiting for about 15 minutes before power washing the area.

Removal of oil from parking lots, drive-throughs and other pavements is the most common concrete power washing application. In addition to hot water, an alkaline degreaser will greatly increase removal rates of oil and grease. Hot water lifts the oil from the concrete and the degreaser emulsifies the oil, allowing it to be flushed from the surface. Some contractors use a little degreaser for most jobs, even to remove dirt, which can be somewhat oily. An alkaline cleaner is the preferred chemical for cleaning soot from concrete.

Protecting and maintaining:

Stamped Concrete
Like conventional concrete, stamped concrete will provide decades of service when properly installed and maintained, even when exposed to harsh winter weather conditions. In some cases, stamped concrete can be even more durable than standard concrete, especially if a colour hardener has been applied to the surface. The hardener makes the surface stronger and more resistant to abrasion and water penetration. Most contractors will also apply several coats of protective sealer to stamped concrete to block the penetration of dirt, de-icing chemicals, oil and grease stains and other substances. A good-quality sealer not only makes the concrete easier to clean, it offers other benefits such as enhancing the colour and preventing fading from UV exposure.

But even properly sealed stamped concrete will require some routine maintenance, depending on exposure conditions and the type and amount of traffic it receives. Although a sealer inhibits stains, a sweep and wash is still required occasionally to avoid dirt buildup. Exterior surfaces can be pressure washed or scrubbed with a mild detergent. For interior surfaces, damp mopping or dry dust-mopping of the floor is typically the only routine upkeep needed.

On stamped interior floors subjected to lots of foot traffic, it’s especially important to maintain the sealed surface to prevent wear patterns. Application of a sacrificial floor wax or polish can provide extra protection by protecting the sealer from wear and serving as a shock absorber to scuffs, scratches and grime.

Stained Concrete
While protecting stained concrete with a sealer or floor finish will repel dirt and help prevent wear, it doesn’t eliminate the need for periodic maintenance. How much traffic the surface receives often dictates the amount of ongoing maintenance required.

For interior concrete floors subject to only light foot traffic, maintenance is usually a simple matter of dust mopping and occasional wet mopping with a neutral pH cleaner. For exterior stained concrete, keep the surface clean by sweeping it with a broom or leaf blower, or rinsing with a garden hose. To remove stubborn dirt, scrub with a mop or medium-bristle brush and a mild cleaner.

Integrally Coloured Concrete
When properly protected and cared for, integrally coloured concrete will retain its colour indefinitely. The colour extends throughout the entire slab, so even if surface abrasion occurs, the colour will not wear away. The pigments in integral colouring admixtures are chemically stable and won’t fade over time from exposure to the weather or ultraviolet light. To remove surface dirt or stains, the same general cleaning recommendations given for plain concrete should be followed.

Applying a clear sealer to integrally coloured concrete will provide additional protection from chemicals and oil and grease stains. A sealer will also provide aesthetic benefits by adding some sheen and intensifying the colour effects.

Exposed Aggregate Sealers
Applying a transparent concrete sealer to an exposed aggregate surface can improve both its performance and appearance. These sealers, typically film-forming acrylic resins, can help protect against spalling, dusting, efflorescence, freeze-thaw damage, stains, de-icing salts and abrasion.

When applying the sealer to fresh concrete, make sure all cement residue from the exposure process just past has been thoroughly removed to avoid sealing the milky-looking white paste on the surface. Before applying a sealer on existing exposed aggregate concrete, thoroughly clean the surface, removing oil, grease, dirt and stains.

Stencilled Concrete
The stencilling process for exterior concrete is very similar to that of stamped concrete, but instead of rubber stamps, disposable paper stencils are used to imprint the pattern in the concrete. For general cleaning, use low-pressure water or scrub the surface with a mild detergent.

Like stamped concrete, stencilled concrete is coloured with a dry-shake hardener and protected by several coats of sealer. Periodic resealing, as needed, will keep the surface looking its best.

Engraved Concrete
Concrete engraving involves using special tools and equipment to cut brick, tile or cobblestone patterns into hardened concrete. Unlike toppings or overlays, engraving is permanent and won’t wear away or lose bond. The cut patterns will remain for the life of the surface. Little routine maintenance is required, other than occasional cleaning.

Concrete Overlay
A high-quality overlay installed by an experienced applicator can provide a new surface that will last for decades, especially when protected by a good-quality sealer. A sealer not only makes the surface easier to clean, it offers other benefits as well, such as enriching the colour intensity of the overlay, blocking the penetration of stains and improving resistance to water and abrasion.

However, some routine maintenance is still required. For interior floors, wet mopping or dry dust-mopping is typically the only upkeep needed to avoid the buildup of abrasive dirt particles. Exterior flatwork may require occasional pressure washing or scrubbing with a mild detergent.

WOOD AND BAMBOO

Advances in today’s wood flooring stains and finishes have simplified the cleaning of wood floors dramatically. Regular maintenance requires little more than sweeping with a micro-fibre mop and vacuuming with a soft floor attachment if the wood floor has a bevelled edge where debris could collect. These floors should also be damp (not wet) mopped periodically (around once a week) with a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by a wood flooring professional.

10 Maintenance tips for hardwood floors

1.    Do not use sheet vinyl or tile floor care products on wood floors. Self-polishing acrylic waxes cause wood to become slippery and quickly appear dull.
2.    Use rugs both inside and outside doorways to prevent grit, dirt and other debris from being tracked onto a wood floor and causing scratching. Exposure to sunlight can slightly change the shade of your floors. Rearrange your rugs and furniture periodically to avoid shading from occurring.
3.    Do not wet mop a wood floor. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discolouring residue. This can permanently damage your floor. Use only proper wood floor cleaners and use as directed on the bottle.
4.    Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened towel.
5.    Do not over-wax a wood floor. If a wax floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and in other light-traffic areas by applying wax in these spots every other waxing session. (Wax should be applied to a wax-based finish only and not a sealed floor).
6.    Place stick-on felt protectors under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching. Replace these often, as dirt and debris can become imbedded on the pads and act like sandpaper on the flooring surface.
7.    Avoid walking on wood floors with high heels, sport shoes, etc. This kind of impact can dent any floor surface.
8.    When moving furniture do not slide it across wood flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture completely to prevent scratches.
9.    For wood flooring in the kitchen, place an area rug in front of the kitchen sink and stove.
10.    For solid wooden flooring use a humidifier throughout the winter months to minimise the possibility of gaps or cracks forming.

The following tips are general guidelines: Remember, it is always advisable to follow any manufacturer-provided instructions when caring for a bamboo floor.

The main culprit in the deterioration of a bamboo floor is going to be tiny particles of dirt and sand that are tracked into the room on people’s shoes. This can be prevented by regularly dry mopping with a micro-fibre mop, sweeping or vacuuming the floor. In some cases this will have to be done on a daily basis, depending on the amount of traffic the room is exposed to.

Do not use a vacuum that has a beater bar to clean a bamboo floor. Ensure that any broom which is used has soft bristles and never swamp the floor with water. Only a damp, almost-dry mop should be used. While most hardwood floor cleaners can be used on a bamboo floor, ensure that anything used is non-alkaline, non-abrasive and not a floor wax.

Also avoid using oil soap or scouring powder. Should there be any doubts about the type of cleaning product to use, consult the flooring retailer from whom the material was purchased. Bamboo is slightly more resistant to water damage than regular hardwood floors; however, it is still susceptible to warping if excessive moisture is present. When using a cleaning agent that needs to be mixed with water follow the directions carefully.

Avoid using steel wool when cleaning a bamboo floor. A sponge or clean rag can be dipped in the cleaning solution, then wrung out so only slightly damp. Ensure that the cleanser is applied to all parts of the floor evenly. Do not allow it to pool or puddle. Once the job is completed, a dry towel can be used to wipe up any excess moisture that may be present.

EPOXY RESIN FLOORS

If regular care is provided and recommended guidelines observed, the decorative appearance and life of all epoxy products flooring systems will be extended.

Care immediately after installation
The new flooring system should be allowed to fully cure before being used. The following parameters apply:

Careful foot traffic – 24 hours at 20°C, 48 hours at 8°C
Full mechanical and chemical loading – 7 days at 20°C, 14 days at 8°C
Washing with water must not occur until the curing cycle is completed, i.e. not within 7 days.

Cleaning
Abrasive or acid-based cleansers should not be used. Strong alkali-based cleansers should not be used in concentrated form and solvent cleansers should be avoided, although some solvent “activated” cleansers are suitable. Scraping of the surface should also be avoided. Plastic scrapers or squeegees with rounded corners are less aggressive on the floor’s surface.

Polishing
After washing the floor, the application of approved, clear-polymer glaze coats or wax polishes is recommended to protect the upper surface from minor scratches and abrasions. Wax-modified cleansers will provide improved scratch resistance. In addition, metallic polishes will provide immediate protection and it is recommended that three or more coats are applied following a maintenance washing. Three or more coats can easily be applied in one day. Having done this, repeated applications of polish should be made every three months.

Accidental scratch or scoring damage
Should the flooring surface become scratched or scored by abrasive materials, it is advisable to clean the surface with an approved cleanser and then apply an approved polish or glaze coat to the surface. This will protect the floor from further minor scratches. Repeat applications, thus building up the thickness of the polish or glaze coat which will provide improved scratch resistance.

CERAMICS, PORCELAIN & NATURAL STONE

Contaminants and spills on glazed ceramic and porcelain tile are generally easier to clean than those on unglazed surfaces. Glazed tile products can be cleaned routinely with soap and water or an all-purpose, low-VOC commercial cleaner. The product chosen should also be compatible with grout-joint cleaning. The type of product may vary depending on the tile application and use. Glazed ceramic tiles are the easiest to clean and have a hardwearing and scratch-resistant surface.

The entire area should be cleaned and scrubbed with cleaning solution using a cotton mop, cloth, sponge or non-metallic brush. It should also be rinsed with clean water to remove any cleaning solution residue. It’s important to sweep or vacuum prior to cleaning to remove any dust or debris. Routine cleaners should never contain hazardous or polluting products including, but not limited to, acids or ammonia. Acids can damage the grout while ammonia may discolour it.

Unglazed tiles should be cleaned routinely with a concentrated tile cleaner that has a neutral pH for safe, regular use. This type of cleaner is best suited to removing grease, oils and normal spills from unglazed products. Once again, cleaning products will vary depending on the floor’s application and amount of traffic. The product chosen should also be compatible with cleaning the grout joints at the same time.

Grout Maintenance
Neither sealing the grout nor using a 100% Epoxy Grout will guarantee against surface buildup or discolouration of the grout. The grout needs to be cleaned periodically to remove any surface buildup. Routine grout cleaning can be done daily with a concentrated commercial cleaner depending on the application. When heavy-duty grout cleaning is required, one will need to make use of a tile and grout cleaner that is capable of removing grease, soap scum, body oil, mildew stains, algae and synthetic or acrylic waxes from the grout joints. However, such a product should contain non-polluting chemicals and a low VOC level.

Porcelain tiles
Unglazed porcelain tiles are generally made from porcelain clays by the dust-pressed method which results in a tile that is dense, impervious, fine-grained and smooth, with a sharply formed face. Porcelain tiles have a low water absorption rate (less than 0.5%) making them amongst others hardwearing, heat- and frost-resistant.

Full-body porcelain tiles carry the colour and pattern through their entire thickness, making them virtually impervious to wear and suitable for any application from residential to high-traffic, commercial or industrial applications. Because porcelain tile are quite hard, they can be cleaned at pressures up to 1 450 psi if the grout is in good condition.

Unglazed porcelain tile is similar to glazed ceramic tile, except the surface is not glazed. The surface of full-body unglazed porcelain tile is polished and sealed at the factory.

Cleaning polished porcelain tiles
•    Keeping the grout free of dust and dry, sandy soil will minimise scratches, wear patterns and grout soiling that occur as a result of daily traffic and use.
•    Sweep, dust or vacuum surfaces regularly to remove loose soil and dirt.
•    Use a neutral cleaner that is specially formulated for porcelain tiles to remove soils that sweeping, dusting, vacuuming or damp mopping leaves behind.
•    For extremely soiled tiles, use a heavy-duty alkaline cleaner/degreaser.
•    Don’t use ordinary household cleaners, as they may degrade the sealer that was applied to the grout to protect against stains.

NATURAL STONE

Natural stone products are porous by nature and require a different maintenance programme from traditional ceramic tiles. Many of the materials acceptable for use on ceramic tile can stain, damage or dull stone. Dirt and dust will scratch the surface of stone. Therefore, stone floors should be vacuumed or dust mopped frequently to remove abrasive agents from the surface. Natural stone should be cleaned with neutral cleaners. Stone cleaners should never contain acid or bleach. Acids, even a light solution of vinegar and water, will etch and eventually damage natural stone.

Use only cleaners specifically designed for cleaning stone. These are concentrated, acid-free, neutral pH cleaners that will not affect existing sealers or wax-type coatings. The surface of the stone should be dampened with clear water. This will keep the cleaning solution on the surface so it can be effective.

Once the stone has been cleaned, one can periodically apply a spray-buff, wax-type floor finish to enhance the beauty and lustre of polished stone. Apply the finish with a spray applicator and buff immediately with a white nylon pad. Reapply as often as needed, depending on volume of surface traffic and consistency of routine maintenance programme. Such a product is not designed to restore the original shine, but is intended to maintain and protect it.

When some areas have been neglected, a heavy-duty, non-hazardous and non-polluting stone cleaner and degreaser should be used to effectively remove dirt, grease, grime, waxes and floor finishes. These cleaning products are concentrated and designed to deep clean the stone without damaging it.

LAMINATE FLOORS

A laminate floor is considered one of the most hygienic and long-lasting of all decorative floorcoverings because of its hardwearing protective layer. For this reason it’s advisable to follow the basic instructions set out by the manufacturer.

In the case of commercial applications where the laminate flooring area leads directly outside, an appropriately sized clean-off zone should be built into the floor structure. It is not advisable to use steam cleaners to clean the floor, and never use abrasives or scouring agents on it. The following should also be taken into consideration:

1.    Cleaning
Regularly remove dust with a broom or vacuum cleaner. Periodically use a cleaner/restorer specially formulated to maintain the lustre and allergy-free surface of the floor. Ensure that the cloth or mop is only slightly damp, as excessive water may damage the floor. Wipe damp or wet patches immediately. Do not wash the floor with a soaking-wet mop or cloth. Rather use a dry mop and spray a recommended laminate floor cleaner onto the mop, or wipe the floor with a well-wrung, damp cloth. Special mops for laminate flooring are available from most reputable flooring suppliers.

The floor should not be sanded, varnished, polished or waxed, as these treatments will adversely affect the floor. Grooves should be cleaned with a pointed metal object.

2.    Maintenance
It is recommended that felt pads be fitted under the legs of tables, chairs and cupboards. This makes it easier to move them around and prevents scratching. Place castors or rollers with soft treads on office chairs, filing trolleys and mobile containers and replace any existing old, hard or sharp-edged castors. These castors are recognisable by their two-tone construction.

Direct sunlight may cause laminate floors to fade, so it is important to ensure that all doors and windows have UV filters, blinds or net curtains.

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Acknowledgement and thanks go to the following for the information contained in this article: www.amorimcork.co.za; www.azura.co.za; www.baneclene.com; www.belgotex.co.za; http://www.carpettiles.org; www.cemcrete.co.za; www.ceramic.co.za; www.cfdflooring.co.za; www.concretenetwork.com; www.daltile.com; https://en.wikipedia.org; http://www.epoxyproducts.co.uk; www.facilitiesnet.com;; http://flooring.about.com ; www.flooring-professionals.com; www.floorworx.co.za; www.flowcretesa.co.za; www.naturalstonewarehouse.com; www.norcros.com; www.nouwenscarpets.co.za; www.polyflor.co.za; www.rd.com; www.rubiomonocoat.co.za; www.sawlfa.co.za; www.seamlessflooring.co.za; www.traviata.co.za ; www.vandyck.co.za ; www.wetrok.com; http://woodfloors.org