By Dave Darche
From the April 2023 Issue
Schools are becoming increasingly competitive, vying for students and faculty. Parents have choices, thanks to the number of new neighborhoods popping up. Teachers are in short supply and heavily recruited nationwide. At the same time, facilities budgets are not always reflective of the condition and size of the spaces that need to be maintained.
Numerous studies highlight the importance of a healthy school infrastructure, which includes flooring spaces. Clean, aesthetically-pleasing, and safe areas help students achieve academic results, improve attendance, and attract teachers and staff to work there.
Since budgets remain a challenge and labor resources are limited, many school facility managers are learning to live with old, dilapidated flooring that requires harsh chemical cleaning methods. However, new innovations allow facilities the freedom to update old flooring, even on smaller budgets and in an eco-friendly manner.
Flooring At A Lower Cost
The longer-term cost of flooring solutions—maintenance that includes closing large sections of the facility for long periods of time and paying maintenance teams overtime to work outside of operating hours—is often eliminated or at least greatly reduced with floor renewal systems. Floors are often renewed in hours instead of days or weeks, depending on the size of the area. Facility managers save time on labor, and business operations can get back up and running quickly.
Additionally, the renewal process eliminates the need to ever polish the floor again. Considering today’s tight labor market; elimination of the polishing process can save significant workforce hours.
Consider these real-world examples:
Germany’s Phorms school in Berlin desperately needed an upgrade to a multifunctional space used by students, teachers, and parents. The flooring had been subjected to repeated stripping and polishing—two processes that resulted in a less-durable and dull floor. A new floor was not in the budget, but the renewal process presented a beautiful floor three days later, allowing sports, activities, and assemblies to resume.
“There will be no future stripping and polishing, which of course saves costs and frees up time for our facilities staff,” notes the school’s Administration Manager, Sandra Exner. “The ‘new floor’ is noticed by school colleagues, and the parents are also very happy with the upgrade.”
Sunnyside School District in Arizona saved over $40,000 by having the floors renovated rather than implementing a full floor replacement. The district chose a modern design that is durable enough to handle regular and heavy foot traffic at the school. Since the renewal process eliminates the recurring cost of polishing the floor, the district will realize continued labor savings over the life of its floors. This project was so cost effective that the district put the savings into a new project that includes renewing additional district flooring.
“Another principal in our school district has seen pictures of this project and is anxiously waiting for the opportunity to have their floors upgraded,” notes Manuel Portillo, Maintenance Custodian Supervisor for Sunnyside.
Trendy Options On-Budget
School administrators often consider a renovation to be an unsurmountable challenge and opt to replace the flooring surface instead. As a result, educational facilities contribute to rising landfills and use funds that could be utilized for other operational needs. What’s even more commonplace is administrators opting to “live with it because a new floor isn’t in our budget.”
Flooring renewal creates a long-lasting floor, utilizes existing materials, keeps trash out of the landfill, and eliminates the carbon footprint created by new products. Schools are also an excellent place to model sustainable practices by renewing instead of replacing flooring.
Additionally, waterborne solutions are now an industry standard for durable, long-lasting floor surfaces that are also more sustainable and lower in odor. Most resilient renovation systems also offer a clean, non-yellowing formula to keep the floor looking great for years.
Starnet’s Fast Foamer is a deep cleaning solution for facility managers. Foam leads many cleaning industry categories, and is rapidly gaining ground in the commercial carpet cleaning sector. The Fast Foamer reduces water consumption by 85% and eliminates the dumping of soil and chemical laden wastewater. Coupled with a two polymer encapsulant chemistry that both deep cleans and leaves a protective coating, the Fast Foamer brings facility managers and building owners, safe, earth-friendly deep cleaning.
10 Tips To Maintain Resilient Flooring
When done properly, flooring renewal is a low-cost, high-results option to achieving safe, durable flooring surfaces. Here are 10 tips for maintaining renewed flooring:
- Develop a maintenance plan and follow that plan.
- Train maintenance teams how to properly care for the flooring surfaces.
- Clean high traffic areas often; for example, several times per week. Lower traffic areas need less-frequent cleaning (i.e. weekly).
- Map a “cleaning route” that keeps maintenance teams moving forward and avoids backtracking. This process increases efficiency and reduces the chances of spreading debris.
- A proper cleaning routine should include a combination of vacuuming, dry mopping, and using PH neutral cleaners to remove dirt. Harsh cleaners are harmful to indoor air quality and the flooring finish.
- Microfiber mops are effective and efficient because they remove more soil than traditional mops. To avoid spreading debris particles, don’t shake the mop while cleaning.
- Don’t allow dirt to become ground into the floor, which will damage the finish.
- Utilize floor mats in high traffic areas to capture dirt. Clean or swap out the mats frequently so captured dirt won’t be tracked onto the flooring surface.
- Utilize furniture pads to prevent scratches and dents, and avoid sliding heavy pieces along the floor.
- Work only with maintenance teams who are properly trained for the particular flooring surface upkeep.
Darche is the National Market Manager of Adhesives/A&D for Bona U.S. and has been in the flooring industry for more than 35 years. He currently serves on the National Wood Flooring Association Architect & Design Committee and is an NWFA Certified Inspector.
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