October 7, 2021

A Facility Manager’s Guide to Commercial Floor Maintenance

You have a long list of responsibilities as a facility manager, including ensuring that the commercial flooring on your property is in good shape. This is an essential part of the appearance of the property as well as its functionality and overall safety. 

This guide should make everything related to maintaining commercial floors easier. 

Why You Need a Commercial Floor Maintenance Plan

There are several important reasons that you need a commercial floor maintenance plan, starting with the way it helps you stay on budget. 

Saves Money

Creating a commercial floor maintenance plan is the perfect example of how you sometimes have to spend a little bit of money up front in order to save a lot more in the future. 

The most compelling reason is because regularly maintaining the floor will expand its lifespan. That’s crucial, as replacing commercial flooring can be expensive, especially if you have a large facility. 

You may also save money on the cost of the maintenance if you create and pay for a plan ahead of time. It is very common for cleaning and flooring maintenance companies to offer plans that cost less per visit than it would if you were to pay for each visit to your facility separately. 

Extends the Floor’s Life

As mentioned, regularly and properly maintaining your facility’s flooring will make it last longer. This does more than save you money. It also saves you the time you would need to spend making decisions related to the replacement floor. Besides, you would have to choose materials, colors, necessary specifications, and a contractor to install it. All of those decisions require research and take time away from other important tasks. 

Prevent Accidents

Floor maintenance is also essential for safety. After all, if a floor isn’t well maintained, it may have sticky or slippery substances that collect over time and lead to falls. Or maybe the finish will become uneven, or a tile will crack, also resulting in a fall. 

Keeping the property safe is one of your most critical tasks as the facility manager, so this is a very important benefit to keep in mind. 

Maintain Sanitation

Keeping the floor clean and well maintained is also an important part of regular sanitation practices. Thoroughly cleaning it will minimize the germs and bacteria in the space, helping keep everyone who enters the facility healthy. 

Maintain Its Appearance

In addition to extending its lifespan, maintaining your commercial floor also ensures that it looks great. This is important for several reasons. 

To start, a well-maintained and clean floor reflects well on your skills as a facility manager. It also reflects well for the property to visitors or employees. 

Clean floors that are in good shape make a positive first impression on anyone who walks into the building. If it is a commercial property, this means that clients may be more likely to want to work with the company than competitors. That should increase the satisfaction of the building’s owners with your management. 

Ensures You Stay on Schedule

While the other reasons already mentioned explain why you should maintain your commercial floor, you may wonder why you need a plan to do so. The simple answer is that it helps ensure that you follow through with the cleaning. 

If there is a plan in place, you don’t have to try to remember to plan various maintenance tasks for the floor; they are already on the schedule. 

Professional Results

The other reason to create a plan instead of just relying on memory to have someone maintain the floor is the quality of the results. When you create a commercial floor maintenance plan, the plan will include not only tasks but also who will complete them. 

In most cases, you will have a cleaning professional or cleaning company handle the floor maintenance. This means that they will have plenty of experience caring for commercial floors. That, in turn, helps them deliver professional results for your floors. 

Proper Supplies and Equipment

By hiring professionals for the flooring maintenance plan, you will also get the reassurance that they use the best equipment and products. This saves you the trouble of finding products or trying to figure out what fits your budget. It also saves you the upfront cost of machinery. 

Different Types of Commercial Flooring

There are many types of commercial flooring, each of which requires a slightly different maintenance schedule. The following are the most common types of floors for commercial properties. 

Carpet

Carpet can either be rolled (called broadloom) or installed in carpet tiles. Modular carpet tiles are more versatile and easier to repair, as you can just replace a section. 

Ceramic Tile

The ceramic portion of ceramic tiles is fairly straightforward to clean, but the grout between tiles will require extra attention. Depending on foot traffic, keeping the grout clean can take a significant amount of time. 

Concrete

Concrete is among the most popular types of commercial floor, regardless of whether it is polished. This type requires daily mopping, along with regular deep-cleanings. 

Hardwood

Hardwood flooring is available in a range of colors, species, and styles. It can create a high-end look but is expensive to install. It is also not recommended for high-traffic areas, as it scratches and scuffs easily. 

Laminate

Laminate requires minimal maintenance and can handle a lot of foot traffic. The downside is that it can warp if there’s too much moisture. 

Rubber 

Rubber floors are more common in gyms or in kids’ play areas. Daily cleaning for this type of floor tends to be simple, vacuuming or sweeping and mopping. It also requires occasional deeper cleans with floor strippers followed by refinishing. 

Stone

There are various types of stone floors for commercial properties, including marble, travertine, slate, and granite. Your floor maintenance routine will depend on the specific type of stone. 

VCT

VCT (vinyl composite tile) is very long-lasting, assuming that you take proper care of the commercial floor. 

Creating a Commercial Cleaning Schedule

As you create a commercial cleaning schedule for your floor, you will need to consider various factors. To start, it depends on the type of floor that you have. As mentioned earlier, each type of commercial floor has slightly different cleaning and maintenance requirements. 

Next, you will have to consider the foot traffic and overall use of your facility. For example, the floor in a factory will likely need more frequent thorough cleanings than one in a rarely used warehouse. And the floor in a busy store will require more cleanings than one in an office with just a handful of people. 

Remember that your commercial floor cleaning schedule can be different for various parts of the space. Adjust the plan to the traffic, use, and type of flooring in each room or section. 

What to Include for Ceramic

Routine maintenance for ceramic commercial floors mostly involves using a neutral cleaner and mopping. Remember to clean spills immediately. 

You will need to periodically deep-clean the tile with the cleaner the manufacturer recommends. 

What to Include for Commercial Carpet

If you have carpet, then your cleaning schedule should include vacuuming on a regular basis as well as cleaning spills with spot cleaners as needed. 

One consideration for the longer-term maintenance should be periodic encapsulation. This involves vacuuming, spraying a cleaning agent, and vacuuming again. After a few encapsulation treatments, you will also need to include hot water extraction on the schedule. 

What to Include for LVT

Regular maintenance tasks for LVT flooring include dust mopping and vacuuming, along with cleaning spills and wet mopping daily or weekly, based on traffic. 

Less frequent maintenance will include auto scrubbing with a neutral cleaner and spray buffing. 

What to Include for VCT

VCT floors are high maintenance, so you need to vacuum and mop them regularly. You need to periodically machine scrub them, polishing the floor as needed. You will also need to occasionally chemically strip the polish and then reapply it. 

Sample Floor Cleaning Schedule

You can adjust the following commercial floor cleaning schedule based on your specific needs. 

Every day, you will want to: 

  • Sweep hardwood and tile.
  • Vacuum carpet in high-traffic areas.
  • Spot-clean spills.
  • Dust mop or damp mop. 
  • Auto scrub, depending on your facility.
  • Low-speed buff, depending on your facility.
  • High-speed burnish, depending on your facility.

Every week, you should: 

  • Mop hardwood or tile floors.

Every month, do the following: 

Every quarter, complete the following:

  • For hardwood floors, deep-clean and polish.
  • For tile, deep-clean the tiles and the grout and use a tile floor scrubber.
  • For tile in high-traffic areas, wax.
  • For carpet, deep-clean using a carpet cleaning machine.

Every year, you should do the following:

  • Seal tile grout.
  • Wax tile floors.
  • Apply carpet protector.

As needed, you will also have to strip and refinish certain types of floors. 

Commercial Floor Scrubbing, Machines, and Cleaners

One of the many tasks that go into cleaning and caring for commercial floors is scrubbing them. This is usually done with an automatic scrubber. This type of machine is designed to efficiently clean floors and is an alternative to a mop and bucket. As such, it is commonly done daily in many facilities. You do need to dry mop or sweep the floor before using one of these machines, as dirt could damage the floor or the machine. Most of the time, you only need to run an auto floor scrubber over a spot once. 

The cost of an auto scrubber will depend on the size and style of the machine that you choose. Manual push machines are usually $500 to $2,500, while walk-behind machines are $4,000 to $12,000. Ride-on machines can be $10,000 to $50,000. On average, companies spend between $1,150 and $30,000 on these machines. 

Because of the high cost, you will need to decide whether it makes sense to purchase. If you buy the scrubbing machine, you will also have to take care of maintaining it and any potential repairs. 

Because of the cost, it is common for facility managers to hire a company that has its own auto scrubbers. However, that will likely depend on the size of your facility and how frequently you need this level of cleaning. Given that this can be a daily task in many facilities, it may make sense to budget for a machine. 

Commercial Floor Buffing and Machines

Buffing commercial floors eliminates scruffs and scratches, creating a glossier finish. There are machines for both spray buffing and dry buffing. The typical recommendation is to buff commercial floors about once a month, although this will depend on your facility and its traffic. For example, lower-traffic facilities can typically buff just every two to three months. 

As with scrubbers, floor buffing machines come in a range of price points. The cost will depend on the motor size, deck size, whether it is belt-driven or has a gearbox, and its warranty. With that being said, some are as affordable as $750, while others may cost nearly $3,000 or more. 

Once again, the cost of floor buffing machines means that not all facilities will want to own one. This is especially true given that you use them less frequently than floor scrubbers. 

If you choose not to buy a floor buffing machine, you have two main options. You can hire a floor cleaning company that has one one, or you can rent one when you need to use it. Before going with the second option, however, be sure to do a cost-benefit analysis. Depending on how long the machine lasts and how frequently you use it, you may spend more on renting one over time. On the other hand, you may have significant savings that way. 

When to Repair or Replace Commercial Floors

One of the most important decisions any facility manager will have to make about their commercial floor is when it is time to replace it instead of continuing with repairs. 

The absolute best option is to ask a flooring professional. They will use their expertise to evaluate your floor and let you know what makes the most sense. Of course, you want to choose a flooring professional you trust, as that way you can have faith that they won’t simply suggest a replacement to make more money. 

There are also some important signs you can look for that indicate it is likely time to replace the flooring. 

Cracks

In the case of certain types of flooring, such as tile, if you notice too many cracks or chips, then there may be an underlying issue. If only one or two tiles have issues, this was likely from a sharp blow or heavy movement. If many are broken, you may have a foundation issue and need to replace the floor. 

Different Feelings While Walking on It 

You are used to walking on the floor and having that movement feel a certain way. If this changes, you likely need to replace the floor. This type of change is typically due to the padding degrading under your carpet or laminate. This is a problem, as the uneven floor creates a trip hazard. Additionally, the degraded padding will reduce the floor’s ability to insulate. That will increase noise in the building. 

The padding on laminate and carpet is not the only potential reason for changes in how the floor feels. If you have hardwood, there may be structural issues, or the boards may have moved to an extreme degree. Both of those are potential safety problems. 

Peeling

If your floor is starting to peel, this is a good sign it is time for a replacement. This is particularly common with vinyl and laminate flooring. Peeling can be from high foot traffic or water damage, but it is typically not fixable.

Smells

If your floor starts to smell bad and the smell will not go away, then you definitely need to replace it. This warning sign is much more common with carpet, as its fibers can trap debris and dirt. In cases where the smell is from mold, then you must replace the carpet and padding as soon as possible due to the health hazards. 

Stains

Floors will typically discolor over time, but you can minimize this with regular cleaning. If you are prompt in cleaning up spills and handling water damage, the chance of stains decreases. 

However, once you have stains, if you can’t remove them with a thorough cleaning, you should strongly consider replacing the floor. After all, stained floors give a bad impression to customers and reflect poorly on your facility management skills. 

Style or Aesthetic Reasons

You may also need to replace your facility’s floor if the style becomes dated. The same would be true if you are renovating the facility and the floor no longer matches the rest of the aesthetics. 

The Bottom Line 

With the above advice in mind, you will be well on your way to maintaining the commercial floors on the properties you manage. Following this guide will help you save money in the long run and free up your time to focus on your other responsibilities. 

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