How to avoid flooring failures 14 Nov, 2014
Certain factors can have a negative impact on the look and longevity of your flooring – Natalie Dowse, Marketing and Product Manager for Truvox International Limited, outlines what to look out for and how to pre-empt problems.
Whether you choose hard surfaces over carpeting – or need a mix of both in your facility – flooring remains one of the most costly investments for building owners. It makes sense to do your research wisely before purchasing, and also to take into account the installation and on-going cleaning methods, as these will have a significant effect on how long your investment lasts.
One example of a flooring failure is when individual floor tiles or entire parts of a floor start to loosen from the floor backing, or begin to buckle. This kind of situation is often blamed on poor installation, but the wrong methods used to clean and maintain the floor can also play a role.
The problem is sometimes caused by substances – including moisture, soil, contaminants, oils, salts, acids, small particulates, floor care chemicals and chemical residues – which can make their way down cracks, pores and grout areas, eventually reaching the bottom of the floor. These can then build up under the surface, causing either the concrete or the adhesives securing the flooring to break down, eventually loosening tiles or creating other problems.
Some of this can be prevented by ensuring that proper protection, such as a sealant along with adequate coats of finish, is applied to the surface of the floor when it is first installed. However, whether for cost or environmental reasons, some facility managers tend to skimp on this stage. If they do go to the trouble of applying a finish, care must be taken to maintain this properly, as it can wear away over time.
Preventing flooring failures
Fortunately, professional cleaning companies can help prevent flooring failures. One of the first steps is to know what types of materials – adhesives, concrete, etc. – were used to install the floor. While this may not always be possible, a lot can be determined by the age of the floor.
If it is a new floor or a floor installed within the past few years, cleaning professionals can assume more environmentally friendly adhesives, which typically produce fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs), were used. Knowing this, they can select chemicals that are still effective, but more protective of the materials likely to have been used to secure the floor.
Another preventative technique involves the type of floor care equipment used to maintain the floor. Because we know that moisture and some chemicals can be damaging to some flooring adhesives, selecting equipment that uses less water and chemicals can prove beneficial, such as a cylindrical brush machine.
Finally, cleaning professionals should encourage facility managers to apply a sealant or finish to floors. In some cases, a sealant is applied to a floor first and then a finish is applied over the sealant. Sealants can help reduce the penetration of undesirable materials, such as moisture. The sealants themselves also may penetrate into the floor surface, especially if the floor is concrete, forming a thin layer of protection. Today, many finishes can provide the same type of protection over most commonly installed floors.
The primary purpose of a sealant/finish is not to put a shine on the floor – although that is the result after several coats are applied – but to protect the floor. In this case, the sealant/finish is helping to keep moisture and contaminants from seeping down under the floor surface.
While some facility managers may want to avoid refinishing floors for cost reasons, this can prove even more expensive in the long run. In addition to preventing flooring failures, finished floors are typically easier to maintain, which can contribute to cost savings over time.