DIV19/14: Floorcare – Seeing Through the Choices (9 August 2019)

Issue Date: 9 August 2019
Ref: DIV19/14


Floorcare – Seeing Through the Choices
By Terry Burt, Senior Application Expert, Floorcare, Diversey, UK & Ireland

The variety of flooring materials continues to grow as manufacturers develop new products designed for better safety, greater resilience, lower costs or some other benefit. At the same time, floorcare suppliers have introduced innovations designed to make floor cleaning and maintenance simpler, less expensive and more sustainable on all materials. This has increased the number of options for cleaning teams but it also means that choosing the right product for the specific application is more complex than ever before. 

The first decision facing a cleaning team is to identify the type of flooring present. Most premises occupants will not have commissioned or constructed the building so will be unfamiliar with the specifications of the infrastructure. In all cases it pays to ask the help of a cleaning supplies specialist who will have the experience and expertise to identify the floor and recommend the right combination of floorcare products and processes.

Wooden flooring is still widely used in new and existing buildings. This is not to say all wood is the same. In addition to traditional hardwood flooring the choice includes exotic species as well as various forms of compressed, laminate and engineered woods. Indeed, other flooring types such as porcelain and vinyl are deliberately manufactured to look like wood. These often require slightly different cleaning products and processes which is why identification is important.

For conventional wooden floors, daily cleaning is usually a combination of sweeping or vacuuming and then cleaning with a suitable product. This is typically supplemented by intermittent maintenance at regular intervals to strip away the accumulation of waxes, oils or polymers followed by the application of a fresh finish. This tried and tested regime not only maintains - and often enhances - the appearance of the floor but also protects the wood to ensure long-lasting resilience. 

Suppliers now offer a wider choice of cleaning and maintenance products than ever before. Some products have natural wax or polymer-based formulations and others contain modern ingredients designed to minimise the need for a strip and refinish. Given the choice, cleaning teams should be able to match the products they use very closely to their flooring types, the processes they choose and the appearance and finish they want to achieve.

This wider choice in cleaning products is reflected in the choice of floorcare equipment. The traditional mop and bucket used with a conventional cleaning product is less common but not entirely extinct. More advanced systems offer a choice of mophead materials and different product formulations. There are also specialist manual and mechanical tools for stripping old finishes and applying new ones. Many cleaning teams have discovered the benefits of microfibre, available in a range of disposable and reusable options which can themselves be used to clean hard floors with products or water alone.

Similar product and process considerations apply to other traditional flooring materials such as natural stone and established synthetics such as vinyl. There is also an increasing array of innovative synthetic flooring designed for low-slip performance, resilience against chemicals or other attributes. Traditional mopping and microfibre systems can often be used on all of these but the choice is widened because rotary disc machines and scrubber driers are also available when fitted with the correct pad or brush.

This increasing choice of cleaning and maintenance products means that it is more important than ever before to select the right one for the flooring material, finish and cleaning process. Cleaning products with a formulation that is ideal for one particular type of flooring might be too harsh for another. For example, an alkaline cleaning detergent might accidentally damage or remove a traditional finish. Another example might be using an acidic formulation on a marble or limestone floor because this can dissolve the stone’s surface. Also, especially when using machines, it is all too easy to choose a pad or brush that results in the cleaning operation being too aggressive and damaging the floor. In all cases damage can be quick but difficult and expensive to repair. 

Experienced cleaning suppliers with a wide range of products, equipment and machines will be the best placed to offer advice and suggest the best combination for any particular scenario. They will usually have floorcare specialists who have the expertise and “seen it all before” knowledge to help their customers identify the correct solutions and resolve any unexpected issues that arise. They will also be able to advise cleaning teams on compliance with agreed procedures or regulations covering specific industry sectors.

Some cleaning teams have recognised the benefits of cleaning floors with their equipment and water alone. Clearly this removes complexity by eliminating the need for any chemical products, which can save cost and the burdens associated with supply chain, training and implementation processes. It also simplifies cleaning processes, creates a healthier environment for cleaners and bystanders, and reduces routine maintenance burdens.

Microfibre mopping systems, for example, when used with water alone represent an ideal option for daily cleaning to remove dirt and dust. Depending on the specification, microfibre can also offer an effective infection prevention option because it removes over 99% of bacteria from hard surfaces. 

Floorcare machine operators are increasingly drawn to innovations such as pads impregnated with microscopic diamonds. These can be used with scrubber driers and rotary disc machines on a wide variety of resilient non-wooden floor types to offer a highly sustainable alternative to traditional techniques. Pads for different tasks and type of floor are manufactured by changing the size and combination of the microscopic diamonds. The pads are less abrasive than the corresponding conventional alternative which helps to protect the floor while giving a smoother and improved appearance. The resulting micro-polished floor is more resistant to soiling.

Building occupiers and their cleaning teams do not always know what materials were used to construct their own facilities. But only with this knowledge can they hope to implement cleaning and maintenance regimes that deliver the best results that are also affordable and sustainable. This is why it is important to seek the help and advice from an experienced supplier with a wide range of product.