Winter Weather And Floor Maintenance

With colder weather ahead for many facilities, flooring maintenance contributes to a safe and clean environment.

By Susan Scapparone

Winter is quickly approaching bringing its own mix of harsh conditions and cleaning challenges. Whether you live in a traditionally cold weather state or warmer one, you never know when an extreme, unexpected weather event can create disruptions. Therefore, now is the time to properly prepare. With the right preventative measures and daily care, facility managers can protect their buildings.

As occupants enter and exit your building this winter, here are four tips to ensure a safe season ahead.

Photo: Getty Images/
Martin Barraud

1. Reseal Hard Floors. Before winter rears its ugly head, make a point to check there is an adequate finish on your floors. If not, reseal them before winter arrives. Besides protecting your hard floors against rain, snow, salt and dirt, cold weather can negatively affect how the finish dries. Frequently, colder temperatures can lead to cracking and peeling of a floor’s finish. If heavier moisture conditions have already begun to occur in your region of the country, scrubbing and recoating is the next best option. An early protective coat will help avoid deep stains in your floor finish which would otherwise require you to strip and refinish floors more frequently than needed.

2. Implement An Entrance Mat System. After properly preparing your floors or carpeted areas, you’ll need the right entryway matting system to protect them from rain, mud, snow, and dirt. ISSA data says 80% of soil, dust, and wintertime contaminants within a facility come in through the door on the shoes of visitors and building occupants. An effective entryway matting system can remove as much as 90% of soils from shoes. Effective commercial floor mats are designed to remove and contain water and moisture and should not only have a water dam border but also a vinyl or rubber backing to help contain soils and prevent slips and falls.

It’s recommended that matting systems have 15 feet of lead way both outside and inside your building before occupants reach your facility’s carpeted or hard floor.

  • Scraper mats should be placed on the outside entryway to remove debris off shoes as well as any liquids or moisture.
  • Wiper mats should be placed just inside the door way to clean shoe bottoms by removing soil as well as any remaining moisture.

Additionally, ensuring proper matting will help reduce slips and falls on wet floors. The 2020 Workplace Safety Index reports falls cost U.S. business $10.84 billion per year.

3. Use Floor Neutralizer To Protect And Remove Ice Melt Residue. Even the best matting systems on the market can’t capture every bit of moisture and dirt. In traditionally colder climate states, frequently guests and occupants track ice melt into buildings. This can be damaging to floors and also leave unsightly white salt residue marks throughout your building. When trying to remove them with regular cleaners, this can do even more damage. To remove ice melt residue correctly, look to floor neutralizers that are specially designed to dissolve ice melt, dirt, and water film. Getting the best results requires you to apply your floor neutralizer to a mop and apply to your floor or for even more success, use an automatic floor scrubber.

4. And, Evaluate Your Lighting. Safety related to lighting is another important area to pay attention to as the winter season approaches. It’s much easier to make changes to your building’s lighting fixtures when the weather is still nice outside. Autumn is a great time to consider upgrades such as energy efficient LED lighting. Additionally, if you are reviewing outdoor lighting in advance of months with chillier temperatures, remember that LED technology performs well in chillier temperatures ensuring you’ll have dependable lighting through the winter months.

Facility management is a year round task with each season bringing its own challenges. There’s no question winter months often are cited by facility managers as the most stressful of the year due to harsh weather conditions, fewer hours of sunlight and more dirt and grime carried into any building. But no matter where your facilities are located, following these simple tips should give you peace of mind to running an efficient operation and keeping regular occupants as well as guests safe from slips, trips and falls — something we all want to see this coming winter.

Scapparone has been in product management at Staples for 10 years and is Director, Product Management, for the Facilities Category. She leads a cross-functional team responsible for launching new chemical solutions and cleaning tools and played a key role introducing the Coastwide Professional™ J-Series line of paper and soap dispensers and refills for the modern restroom.

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