“Our floors look terrible!”
This is a common phrase that we encounter when called in by a prospective client to provide a proposal for cleaning services. In fact, besides dirty restrooms and break rooms, there is nothing that draws the ire of building owners more than dull, damaged tile flooring.
This should really come as no surprise to most of us. Think about the places that you go—doctor’s offices, grocery stores, department stores, restaurants—do you notice when the floors are shiny? Do you notice if the floors are dull or dirty?
In this document, I’ll share some information about vinyl composite tile (VCT) flooring and how to maintain the look of these floors.
So what is VCT flooring?
Vinyl composite tiles are composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) chips formed into solid sheets by heat and pressure. The filler material used in VCT flooring is limestone. In fact, almost 65% of VCT flooring is limestone. As such, while the surface of VCT feels smooth (because it usually has wax on it), the surface is actually rather porous. Since the surface is porous, it is prone to collect dirt and grit. That is why it is important to apply and maintain an appropriate amount of wax (coating) on this type of tile at all times.
Five simple steps to keep your floors looking their best
What can you do to maintain a clean VCT floors? Try these tips:
Use Walk-off Mats
You wouldn’t think of taking an electric sander to your VCT floors, but that is what you are doing if you allow shoes to walk on your floors that are filled with dirt and other grit! Hence, the importance of walk-off mats where people are coming in from an area where their feet will track these elements. In an industrial setting, it is especially important to position mats where team members are walking into and out of the shop floor. While the mats won’t catch all of the particles, you might be surprised just how much these do catch. If possible, find a service that will replace these mats on an ongoing basis, and remind your cleaning team to vacuum these nightly.
Dust Mop Daily
The best defense against floor dulling is a good offense. The offense includes daily dirt/dust removal using a microfiber mop. Microfiber materials are excellent at capturing a great deal of the dust/dirt that is left on a floor. Next, use a damp mop with a mild soap to gather any remaining debris.
Damp Mop Often
A question that I get often is: “How many times a week should our floors be damp mopped?” This depends on a number of items but is usually directly related to the amount of foot traffic that your floors receive. If your facility has a great deal of foot traffic, and/or the foot traffic has a heavy amount of dirt/dust, daily damp mopping might be needed. A floor scrubber, using a light-colored pad, is an acceptable alternative to damp mopping by hand.
Floor buffers produce shine by smoothing the surface of your VCT floors. Without spending too much time on this topic, when a surface is smooth it tends to reflect more light or shine. Over time, VCT floors develop small “pits” or scratches from daily foot traffic abrasion, scratches from rolling chairs, etc. The buffer, using an abrasive pad and heat from the spinning surface, will smooth the scratches and pits to produce a more reflective surface. As such, it is important to use a buffing machine occasionally to produce a shiny appearance.
Restore Annually (in most cases)
Over time, all of the scratching and pitting and buffings will eventually wear off the wax on your VCT flooring. As such, it is important to restore the surface of the tile by stripping off the remaining old wax covering and applying several layers of new wax. Again, the frequency of this restorative process depends on several factors. Advances in floor wax have created long-lasting protection. Generally, we suggest at least an annual floor restoration for facilities with medium-to-high traffic.
With a little ongoing TLC and a good preventative maintenance program, VCT floors can look very nice for a very long time.