This is the first of a two-part series on floor care, and more specifically floor finishes. In this first part we discuss the benefits of floor finish; in the second part we will discuss ways to make floor care greener and more environmentally friendly.

The Benefits of Floor Finish

Floor care is one of the most costly of cleaning tasks. While costs can vary, according to one study, 93% of the costs of floor care are labor related; only 7 percent apply to chemicals and supplies. Refinishing a floor is usually labor-intensive, and because some locations have floors stripped and refinished two or three times per year, it can become quite expensive indeed. Further, for healthcare facilities, which are usually 24/7 locations, floor care can be very disruptive because entire sections of the facility may need to be blocked off.

Plus, there is the environment to consider. While green floor care strippers and related products are now available, some have not met the performance levels of traditional floor care products. Unlike some cleaning chemicals that have proved relatively easy to reengineer so that they are environmentally preferable and effective, conventional floor care products have proved more difficult to replicate in this way.

And it’s not just the chemicals used in floor care that are the problem: The entire refinishing process may negatively impact the environment. Some communities now require or are considering requiring that the “slurry” that develops when a floor is stripped not be dumped down drains but instead be treated as hazardous waste.*

The Benefits of Finishing Floors

Granted, floor care can be costly and can negatively affect the environment. However, these issues can be addressed so that their impacts are significantly marginalized. First, though, it is important to know just why floors should be finished.

There are three primary benefits that long-term care managers should be aware of:

Cleaning: Floors that have been properly finished tend to be easier to clean. Whether they are vacuumed, dust mopped, damp mopped, spot cleaned, or cleaned with an automatic scrubber, finished floors are usually easier to maintain. This means that over time, floor maintenance costs may actually be reduced. Further, managers should know that because floor care can be disruptive to a facility, not only is easier to clean when a finish has been applied, it is often faster to clean as well, meaning floor areas are blocked off for shorter amounts of time.

Protection: While the result of properly applying a floor finish is the shine, the vital role the finish plays is to protect the floor from marks, scratches, spills, and soils that can mar and even damage the floor. This is especially important for floors in high-traffic areas and during adverse weather conditions.

Promotion: Floors are the first things visitors see when they enter a facility, and their appearance can leave a lasting impression. A clean, high-gloss floor, especially in a long-term care or medical location, says that the facility is well-maintained, clean, and well-managed. That’s what you want to convey. While a floor that has not been finished can still be clean, it simply does not send the same message as a high-gloss floor. This is why some facilities view floor care as part of their marketing program for the image they want their facility or company to present.

Debby Davis is the product manager for Powr-Flite, a leading manufacturer of floor care equipment. She has extensive experience in the professional cleaning industry, especially in the area of floor care.