Fundamentals of floor care

by Ofentse Sefolo
Fundamentals of floor care

When entering a facility, the floors are likely to be the first feature people see. How clean or dirty they look can shape perceptions on how clean and sanitary the entire building is.

Covid has elevated the importance of proper floor care and maintenance, not only to protect flooring, but more importantly to create safe and hygienic environments.

The fundamentals of floor care include understanding the importance of cleaning floors for safety, appearance and cleanliness and following a routine maintenance programme that helps protect the floor investment and the bottom line.

Commercial facilities should consider an end-to-end maintenance solution. A proper system ensures the stripper, finish and cleaner are all formulated to work together to deliver superior results and extend the length of time between maintenance cycles.

The key to achieving clean, attractive-looking floors is regular maintenance and choosing the right cleaning products. The following best practices can help keep finished floors looking great year-round.

Finished floor maintenance

Following a regular maintenance schedule and using cleaning products that clean effectively with the least amount of labour is the most efficient way to maintain the look of any finished floor.

There are four basic levels of floor care:
1. Prevention – Put a floor matting programme into place to reduce the amount of soil, dirt and moisture that enters the building. Mats should be located inside and outside the building in high-traffic areas such as the main entrance to the building and the entryway or foyer. Also, place mats throughout the building – near the steps, the elevator shaft or other strategic areas – to continue to capture incoming dirt. Typically, the more mats one has, the longer the life of the floor will be.

2. Daily routine/maintenance – To ensure longevity, floor care should include the following steps, depending on the facility/equipment:
• Dust mopping – Always begin the daily routine with dust mopping to help clear away large debris. Make sure the mop is clean before starting.
• Damp mopping – This step helps remove particles and oily soil. Damp mopping also prevents the floor’s finish from darkening or yellowing from embedded soil. A couple of tips: Use a clean mop head, start with clean water and follow the manufacturer’s recommended dilution.
• Auto scrubbing – This may not be feasible for all facilities but using this type of equipment can be more effective and efficient. It removes soil better than damp mopping and uses less chemicals. Do not forget to follow the manufacturer’s recommended dilution and choose the appropriate pad for cleaning.
• Low speed buffing – This procedure helps restore the finish to a smooth shine and delays the need for a recoat. It is a great option if the budget does not allow for a burnisher. For durable finishes, use a spray buff to aid “repair”, a mop-on maintainer for efficiency and choose the pad appropriate for spray buffing.
• High speed burnishing – It is much more efficient than low speed buffing. High speed burnishing helps restore the finish to a smooth shine and delays the need for a recoat. Select a finish that matches the burnish frequency and, of course, choose the appropriate pad.

3. Interim maintenance – This step involves a deep scrub and recoat. First, remove surface damage, then apply floor finish for a fresh new look. This step restores shine when buffing/burnishing is not enough.

4. Restorative care – Why strip and refinish? When the floor has darkened or yellowed and when a scrub and recoat will not give a new appearance, restorative care is the next step and involves stripping, sealing and refinishing. Be sure to use a high-quality stripper and choose the right finish for the floors.

Images courtesy of Numatic

Floor finish

Floor finish is used to provide a renewable, restorable, ‘rejuvenate-able’ wear layer on a resilient floor. The built-in, anti-slip properties are most effective if a finished floor is maintained at high shine. The built-in waxes in the finish are able to yield a higher coefficient of friction to make the floor less slippery and to:
• Add shine and beautify the floor.
• Make the floor easier to clean.
• Protect the floor, thus lowering the overall cost of care and repair.

The common myth that shiny finished floors are more slippery than dull finished floors is generally false. A good floor finish is designed to provide the right coefficient of friction for slip-resistant floors, but only if the finish is cleaned and maintained properly.


Safety is another important reason to maintain the finished floors. Two of the top hazards leading to accidents are:
1. Contaminants – Water, grease and other fluids can make walking surfaces slippery.
2. Improper use of floor mats and runners – Floor mats are one of the most important elements for preventing soil & contaminants from entering a facility, but are only effective if safely used, cleaned and maintained. Old or poorly placed mats can contribute to slips, trips and falls.

Floor hygiene – cleaning, sanitising, disinfecting

Floor care hygiene includes cleaning and disinfecting, and it is important to understand the difference when it comes to the cleaning programme. With the advent of Covid, floor hygiene has become a fundamental focus:
• Cleaning:
o Removes soils from surfaces or objects, which can make disinfectants less effective.
o Physically removes germs from surfaces, but it does not necessarily kill germs.
o Can remove a significant amount of the germ load, making the disinfecting active ingredients more effective.
o Removes dust, moulds, irritants and allergens that can trigger asthma symptoms.
• Sanitising is the use of a chemical product or device to reduce the number of germs on surfaces or objects. Sanitising kills most germs, but not all of them, and does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. Most sanitisers require a clean surface to be effective at killing germs. Cleaning & disinfecting – not sanitising – are most common in floor care.
• Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill 99% of germs on hard, non-porous surfaces or objects. Disinfecting:
o Does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces.
o Kills germs through contact time after the surface has been cleaned.
o Only works on hard, nonporous surfaces. Carpets, upholstery and other porous surfaces cannot be disinfected with a chemical product.
o It’s temporary! As soon as a surface is soiled, germs start growing on it again.

These are some of the basic requirements of a proper floor care, maintenance and cleaning programme.

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