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How to Maintain Your School’s New Flooring

Posted on Nov 15, 2016, by Mike Patrick

The condition of your school’s facilities has a big impact on your students: according to a study by Maureen Edwards, “improvement in the condition of the building is associated with improvement in achievement scores”.

Therefore, when you invest in new flooring for your school, you want to keep them looking as-new for as long as possible, in order to increase pride in your school facilities, lower absence levels and improve student morale. Adhering to a proper cleaning and maintenance schedule is the single most important thing you can do to maintain the appearance of your new flooring for years to come.

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Different types of flooring require different types of maintenance, at different times throughout the school year. Today I’m sharing with you the optimal maintenance requirements of each, to help you plan a comprehensive cleaning and maintenance schedule for your school’s new flooring.

Featured image: Black River Falls Elementary, Black River Falls, Wisconsin, USA. Design firm: Bray Architects.

Carpet

Maintaining your school’s new carpet is fairly straightforward: it will require regular vacuuming, along with periodic deep cleaning.

The highest-traffic areas will need vacuuming on a daily basis – areas such as corridors, classrooms and communal areas like your entrance lobby. Lower-traffic areas like administrative offices and staff-only areas will require less frequent vacuuming – two or three days a week rather than five.

In addition to this, your school’s carpet will also require periodic deep cleaning. Regular vacuuming removes up to 80% of dust, dirt and debris from your carpet, but the remaining 20% gets ground down into your carpet. As the majority of dirt is actually sand particles, think of it like sandpaper, grinding away at your carpet fibers and speeding up its appearance degradation.

As deep cleaning takes more time than vacuuming you’ll want to schedule your carpet deep cleans for during school breaks. In a commercial environment, most high-traffic areas would be deep cleaned on a monthly basis, but this is less practical for schools. Therefore, scheduling a deep clean during every school break is essential.

The most effective deep cleaning method is dry powder cleaning, using highly absorbent microbeads to absorb dirt and debris. The powder is brushed into the carpet, and then vacuumed up, extracting dirt, debris and allergens with it. The most common alternative deep cleaning method is hot water extraction, which involves flushing out your carpet using hot water and cleaning products. This is much more disruptive, as you need to allow drying time on top of the cleaning time. Worse still, it can actually worsen localized soiling, as surfactants in the cleaning products concentrate dirt into particular areas.

Hard Flooring

The maintenance requirements of your hard-surface flooring will depend on what type of flooring you have. LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) is much more straightforward (and cheaper) to maintain than VCT (Vinyl Composite Tile).

Luxury Vinyl Tile

To maintain your school’s new Luxury Vinyl Tiles you will need to conduct regular maintenance to remove the build-up of dust and dirt. This involves sweeping and mopping, and while sweeping can be done throughout the school day, any mopping will need to be done after school hours, to minimize the risk of slips and falls when your flooring is wet.

In high traffic areas, you’ll need to sweep and mop daily, but for lower-traffic areas this can be reduced to only two or three days a week, rather than all five.

Luxury Vinyl Tiles have a clear, protective wear layer on top of the printed design, which protects the tiles from scuffs and stains that occur under normal usage. Most wear layers are 20-22 mil thick, and will protect tiles for about 5 to 7 years. Thicker wear layers (28 mil) can provide up to 10 years of protection, and are better suited to the high-traffic environments in school corridors and communal areas than tiles with thinner wear layers.

Because these wear layers don’t last forever, it’s important that you arrange for the reapplication of your flooring’s protective coating before it wears out and your tiles get damaged.

Vinyl Composite Tiles (VCT)

Like LVT, if your school’s installed new VCT flooring it will require regular sweeping and mopping on a daily or near-daily basis.

However, VCT doesn’t have a protective wear layer like LVT. This means your tiles need to be protected against scuffs and staining in a different way. VCT requires regular waxing, which needs to be stripped, reapplied and polished smooth on a regular basis. The wax then acts a bit like the wear layer on LVT, protecting the surface of the tiles against scuffs and scratches.

This should be done every few months – much like deep cleaning of your school’s new carpet, you’ll want to schedule this during school breaks, so as to minimize disruption when school is in session.

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Mike Patrick

Written by Mike Patrick