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Which Commercial Flooring Tiles Are Easiest to Maintain?

Posted on Oct 7, 2015, by Prem Patel

Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to ensuring your flooring tiles last as long as possible. However, maintenance also incurs a cost, in terms of cleaning materials, labor and time. To help you choose the right tiles for your organization, we’re comparing maintenance schedules for three popular types of flooring tile.

Free Tip Sheet: 25 Questions to Ask Your Carpet Tile Manufacturer

1) Vinyl Composite Tile

The cleaning and maintenance schedule for vinyl composite tile (VCT) is relatively straightforward, albeit more labor-intensive than other types of flooring. Like most hard surface flooring products, VCT requires daily sweeping and mopping to remove dirt and debris. In addition to these procedures, VCT also requires regular waxing and polishing.

VCT requires a wax coating that helps to protect the tile from scuffs, scratches and discoloration. Over time, foot traffic will wear off this protective coating. This creates a need to periodically renew the tile’s coating, by stripping off the existing wax, reapplying a new layer, and polishing it to a suitable finish.

In many instances, this cleaning routine is completed quarterly or semi-annually; but the exact frequency that waxing is required will vary according to the levels of foot traffic in a particular area. In busy areas, it may be necessary to wax and polish more frequently.

2) Luxury Vinyl Tile

Though some types of luxury vinyl tile (LVT) still require periodic waxing, most types of LVT differ from VCT thanks to their ‘no wax’ maintenance schedules.

LVT products use a thick, transparent layer, along with a polyurethane coating on the topmost surface, to protect the tiles.  The urethane coating (sometimes re-enforced with silica bead, aluminum oxide or ceramic bead) provides excellent resistance to stains, scratches, and scuffs, while eliminating the need for waxes, polishes, and harsh chemicals.  The thick, rigid film below the urethane coating protects the LVT pattern from damage due to repeated exposure to foot traffic.  

Most wear layers are 20-22 mil thick, and will offer protection for about 5 to 7 years; after which prolonged exposure to foot traffic will necessitate the reapplication of a protective coating.  Thicker wear layers (28-30 mil) can provide up to 10 years of protection before reapplication, and are recommended for most high-traffic commercial spaces.

This results in a maintenance schedule that’s significantly less time and labor-intensive than that required by VCT products. Over the course of a 10 year warranty, it’s likely that luxury vinyl tiles will only require a single refinishing – a process which can be facilitated by a growing number of companies (including Millicare). In contrast, VCT products may require re-polishing several times each year, in addition to the daily mopping schedule required by both products.

3) Carpet Tile

Carpet tiles also require daily cleaning, but the use of vacuuming instead of mopping makes the process much less labor-intensive.

Mopping is a relatively inefficient way of cleaning, with a tendency to spread dirt and debris around, rather than directly remove it from the floor surface. In contrast, vacuuming is a quicker and more effective way of cleaning carpet, and doesn’t require the use of harsh cleaning chemicals.  Over the course of an 8-hour shift, this labor efficiency makes it possible to clean a 21% larger carpeted area than a comparable hard surface. As well as being less physically demanding, this can result in significant time and cost savings over the course of each year.

In addition to regular vacuuming, carpet tiles also require periodic deep cleaning. This is often done through a process of hot water extraction; and though this method can be quick and effective, it isn’t without its problems. Hot water extraction can be a disruptive process, preventing an area from being used until the carpet has fully dried. If small amounts of cleaning products (known as surfactants) are left in the carpet, dirt and debris can accumulate in affected areas – worsening localized soiling over time.

Thankfully, these problems can be avoided through the use of waterless cleaning methods. Dry powder cleaning uses highly absorbent micro-beads to attract and absorb dirt and debris. Once the powder is brushed into the carpet, it’s a quick and simple process to vacuum the carpet, and remove the powder – extracting dirt, debris and allergens with it.

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Topics: Maintenance

Prem Patel

Written by Prem Patel