Hard Lessons

It does not matter if the sky is clear and there is no rain in sight, students still find a way to track dirt and mud into schools. Every day, maintenance employees find themselves cleaning up spills, mopping floors, removing spots of unknown origin and trying to keep up with regularly scheduled floor maintenance.

Creating an effective floor-maintenance plan, especially for resilient flooring, that takes into account daily occurrences can make a positive impact on a school. Part of this program should include properly selected chemicals and cleaners, as well as equipment, to ensure your floor continues to look new for many years to come. The first step is understanding what should be included in a plan.

Caring for the floor On a newly installed resilient floor, allow the adhesive to dry at least 48 hours after installation before cleaning or waxing. This gives the adhesive time to bond properly, which helps ensure the long life of the floor. After 48 hours, damp-mop the floor with a diluted mild floor cleaner and rinse with clean water to remove any smudges or residue left over from the installation.

In general, vinyl composition tile (VCT) and inlaid commercial sheet vinyl, which are recommended for heavier use, require a somewhat more aggressive maintenance plan. Consequently, flooring recommended for lighter commercial applications, which frequently has a no-wax finish, requires lighter maintenance.

The following will help maintain and protect resilient flooring: *Keep it clean. In either case, accumulated dirt and grit, with their abrasive qualities, can scratch resilient flooring or cause it to lose its shine. To remove loose dirt and grime, as well as protect the floor, vacuum, sweep or dust frequently with an untreated mop. Damp-mop regularly with a diluted solution of cleaner and water, following all label instructions

Keep in mind that the color of the flooring also will influence the frequency of cleaning. A light, solid-colored floor shows dirt accumulation faster than a dark, flecked pattern.

*Polish the floors. No-wax floors require minimal but regular maintenance. Floor polish generally is not required; however, it will provide added protection in heavy-traffic areas.

If it is necessary to refurbish or restore the gloss, maintenance must be performed before application. First, thoroughly clean and rinse the floor. After it dries, apply two to five coats of floor polish. Spray buff with a floor machine occasionally to restore the gloss; a diluted solution of floor polish and water can be used. After repeated spray buffing, apply additional coats of polish.

*Perform periodic maintenance. Once or twice a year, strip the floor polish to avoid buildup. Use a floor machine and a liquid stripping solution, following all label instructions. Then, use a wet/dry vacuum to remove the residual polish and stripping solution. Rinse the floor thoroughly with a clean mop, changing the water frequently, and allow to dry. Reapply two to five coats of floor polish. Be sure to follow the directions provided by the manufacturer of the floor, including using the cleaning products recommended.

*Conduct preventive maintenance. Taking a few preventive measures will help prolong the life of all resilient flooring. Avoid moving or sliding heavy furniture over an unprotected floor. Make sure the proper casters, rests and glides are in place on all the furniture. Consider using plywood or hardwood to roll or "walk" the furniture across the floor.

Placing mats at all facility entrances can help prevent gravel, tar and other abrasive substances from being tracked into the building and onto the floor.

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