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Preparing Your Floors for winter

The days of cold and snow are fast approaching, you have shovels and ice melt ready to battle the outdoors, but you may have forgotten one thing.  Your floors! Macedo Janitorial asks: Have you prepared your company’s floors for the winter?

Macedo Janitorial has some tips and thoughts below on how to make your floors last through winter.  Keeping your floors in top condition helps with maintaining, as well as retaining your company’s appearance as clean, healthy, and safe.

Stripping and Refinishing Floors

Having the floor finished and ready for winter is crucial.  The key reason for applying a finish to a floor is not necessarily the shine, but the protection.  View the floor finish as a protective layer over the floor, adding a shine along with a shield.

The problem with stripping and refinishing floors during the winter months is that the weather is cold and often very dry. Some chemicals may not work effectively, and some floor finishes may not adhere properly when applied to a cold floor in a very dry environment.  If floors need to be stripped, sealed, and refinished, this work should be performed in the spring, summer, or fall.

Three to four thin coats of finish will typically suffice in moderate traffic areas of a facility, but in lobbies and key walkways, some contractors have found applying as many five to eight coats makes it easier to keep clean and produce a shine.

Applying this many coats of finish to floors does have its drawbacks, however, most of which apply to time and labor.  Applying five to eight coats of finish takes time—which means money in the cleaning business—and can make stripping the floor more time consuming, as well.  Because of this, apply several coats of floor finish only to the most high-traffic floor areas.

Preparing for the Second Round

If preparing the floor with adequate coats of finish serves as round No. 1 in our winter floor care challenge, round No. 2 involves preventing moisture, debris, ice melt, grit, and soil from entering the facility.  This all starts before anyone even walks into a building.

Cleaning contractors must not overlook the exterior of the building, including parking lots, walkways, sidewalks, and the like.  Keeping them clean is essential to winning the battle when it comes to winter floor challenges. If your cleaning contractors do not take care if the exterior, have them contact the company or person who does, that way the are aware of what chemicals are being used to melt snow and ice.

Going for the Knockout

Another effective program also includes entry way mats, which are a main line of defense when it comes to keeping indoor floors clean, safe, and healthy.  The goal of an effective matting program is actually threefold:

Scraping soil, grit, and moisture from shoe bottoms
Absorbing moisture from shoe bottoms
Trapping and collecting soil, grit, and moisture so building occupants do not carry them into the facility

This is accomplished in two distinct ways: installing mats of adequate length and installing three different types of mats.

Length: An adult will likely have a three-foot stride when walking. This typically means that 15 to 25 feet of matting will be needed to adequately collect the soil and moisture transported on the bottom of someone’s shoes.

Types of matting: The degree of soil capture depends on the types of mats a facility installs. In order to ensure a successful matting program, cleaning contractors should advise clients to select three different types of matting, starting with high-performance matting.

Next, make sure to place a scraper mat outside the facility. If the building has a dual entrance, install a scraper/wiper mat between the two sets of doors, or if that is not an option, install it directly inside the main entryway of the building. Finally, install a wiper mat inside the building.

The total length of the three mats should be at least 15 feet. Some green cleaning advocates recommend 20 feet, mainly because this helps reduce soil loads so significantly it can reduce cleaning needs, which in turn helps reduce cleaning’s impact on the environment.

We should note that wiper mats can also go in key walkways within the facility. These mats help to prevent soil in one area of a facility from transferring into another area.

Ongoing Maintenance

Remember that protecting floors during the winter months is an ongoing challenge, not a one-time event. Cleaning contractors must keep up their defenses throughout the cold season.

To remain effective, mats need to be cleaned regularly. Vacuuming, of course, is necessary on a daily basis, but in the winter months they should be extracted, as well.  After carpet extraction, lay the mats out individually on a flat surface, such as in a large storage area. To adequately dry, the mats will likely need 24 hours. Make sure the backing is also dry before installing the mat.

While these steps will help protect floors during the winter months, cleaning contractors are not free to ignore them. Having an ongoing floor maintenance program of cleaning and scrubbing is essential to keeping floors clean and healthy during the winter months and year round.