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Winter Floor Maintenance Tips: 4 Tips to Protect Your Facility’s Floors

Winter Floor Maintenance Tips: 4 Tips to Protect Your Facility’s Floors

Winter is quickly approaching, bringing its own mix of harsh conditions and cleaning challenges. Now is the time to start preparing for the wet wintery effects that come with snow, ice, and slush.

Soils, snow, and ice melt are abrasive and can cut carpet fibers and scratch hard floors, dulling floor appearance and causing lasting damage.

Winter floor care will require more time and labor than other seasons, but with the right preventative and daily care, you can keep your floors looking their best despite the weather challenges. 

Below we’ll cover 4 ways to prepare and protect your commercial floors this winter.

  1. Reseal Hard Floors
  2. Implement an Entrance Mat System
  3. Use Floor Neutralizer To Protect and Remove Ice Melt Residue
  4. Perform Regular Cleaning

1. Reseal Hard Floors

Scrubbing FloorsProactively protect your hard floors against snow, salt, and other contaminants by making sure there is an adequate amount of finish on the floor to protect the surface.

You should reseal your floors before winter begins. It is not best practice to strip and refinish floors during the winter because of the increased harsh contaminates that can be tracked onto your floors. Additionally, the cold weather can negatively affect how the finish dries. Often times, the cold weather will lead to cracking and peeling of the floor finish.

If you missed the window to strip and refinish your floors, performing a scrub and recoat is the next best line of defense.

Scrubbing and recoating your hard floors will provide a layer of finish to your floors. 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.

Related: How to Scrub and Recoat Hard Floors

2. Implement an Entrance Mat System

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After preparing your floors, protect your hard or carpeted floors from snow, dirt, and ice by utilizing the proper entryway matting system.

An effective entryway matting system can remove as much as 90% of soils from shoes. 

Guests should be able to take about 8 to 10 steps on the entry matting before reaching your carpeted or hard floor. This typically calls for about 15 feet of matting outside and an additional 15 feet inside your building.

There are different types of matting and each serves a unique purpose. In an entryway matting system, you should have a scraper and a wiper mat. Scraper mats should always be used with wiper mats to remove fine soil and water from feet.

Scraper mats are placed outside of your entryway to scrape debris off of shoes as well as begin the removal of any liquids and moisture.

Next, transition mats or scraper/wiper combination mats are placed just inside the doorway or inside vestibules. They clean shoe bottoms by removing soil as well as any remaining moisture.

Finally, wiper mats remove any remaining soils from shoe bottoms so that the first steps on your floor’s surface are clean and dry.

Entrance MatsCommercial floor mats are designed to remove and contain water and moisture. Entrance mats should have a “water dam” border and a vinyl or rubber backing to help contain soils and prevent slipping.

Containing as much water, snow, and ice can help lower the risk of water pooling on your hard floors or seeping into carpets. If the mats have flat borders or inadequate backing, water can seep off the edges and lead to floor damage or slippery conditions.

Having the right entrance mat system in place will not only protect your floors and preserve your facility’s appearance, the system will also reduce the risk of slips and falls. Wet floors are a common occurrence in winter months, especially in entryways.

3. Use Floor Neutralizer To Protect and Remove Ice Melt Residue

Even with the best entryway matting system, ice melt residue will be tracked beyond the entrance of your facility. This can be damaging to floors and also leave unsightly white residue marks throughout your facility.

Warning: Ice melt contains harsh compounds (like salt) that can negatively react with floor cleaners.

Regular floor cleaners can damage floors when used to remove ice melt residue. The pH balance of the salt residue is high (opposite dirt) and will require a floor neutralizer to remove residue. When used to remove ice melt regular floor cleaners are ineffective and will leave behind white residue.

The best way to remove ice melt residue is with the use of a floor neutralizer. Floor neutralizers are specifically designed to dissolve ice melt chlorides, soap, and hard water films as well as scum, scale, and other organic residues.  Floor Neutralizer will both clean the floor and eliminate white residue so you only have to perform one floor care procedure.

You can apply floor neutralizer with a mop and bucket, or for increased efficiency an automatic floor scrubber.

Find out more about the benefits of cleaning with an automatic floor scrubber. 

In entryways with high traffic such as retail stores or large office buildings, it is recommended you mop a facility’s entranceway once every two hours in the winter to remove moisture and other soils.

Pro Tip: Place warning signs around wet areas to warn guests of the slip and fall hazard.

When mopping, it is critical to exchange the dirty cleaning solution and thoroughly clean the mop bucket after every use to avoid re-depositing salt and ice melt residue back to the floor.

If you are using an autoscrubber, make sure to adequately clean the squeegees and tanks before storing the machine. Leftover salt residue can be corrosive to metal parts.

4. Perform Regular Cleaning

Whether you have carpeted or hard floors beyond your entryway, increased daily maintenance will be important to preserving your floors.

SC100 Autoscrubber in-use lobbyMaintaining the appearance of your floors requires daily cleaning and maintenance to remove soil that is tracked into your facility. Doing so, decreases damage to your floors, and reduces the frequency of periodic or restorative hard floor care procedures that are more time-consuming and expensive. In the winter you may have to perform these procedures more than once a day. 

Check out this article for the best way to maintain your facility’s hard floors: 4 Daily Procedures to Maintain Your Facility’s Resilient Hard Floors

Carpeted floors will also require increased maintenance, including more frequent vacuuming and spot removal.

There is no way to hide carpet damage so it is best to prevent it. In the winter, salts and harsh chemicals can easily stain or dull carpets.

The best way to preserve carpet appearance, extend carpet life, and protect your commercial carpet investment is with a comprehensive commercial carpet care program.

Final Thoughts

Snow, rain, slush and ice melt are going to be tracked onto your floors, and if you don’t implement a comprehensive winter floor care program you risk damaging your floors, hurting your facility’s appearance, and negatively affecting your bottom line.

Proactively protecting your floors can save them from potential damage.

Implementing a matting system at your entryway will stop the majority of contaminants such as ice melt, soils, and water from entering your facility. High-quality matting will also store contaminants for easier removal, reduce the risk of floor damage, and lower the risk of slip and fall accidents on hard floors.

A regular cleaning schedule, inclusive of the right commercial cleaning supplies like a neutral cleaner, is critical to protecting your floors from ice melt residue, hard water build-up, and tracked in dirt.

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