Regardless of the type of flooring system in the facility, it’s important that employees be made aware of and follow the manufacturers’ recommendations when cleaning. Some floor coverings require more daily maintenance than others—proper care of some flooring requires specially trained janitorial staff or even an expensive outside crew to do the work. In contrast, when it comes to resinous epoxy floors, a few simple cleaning and maintenance tips can keep a facility floor looking great and performing as designed for the long, usable life of the traffic finish.
Polymer resin floors are among the most durable surfaces available for commercial, industrial and institutional spaces and—depending upon the selected finish—are capable of withstanding impressively high levels of traffic and wear and tear from heavily-laden equipment or even steel-wheeled carts.
With a variety of colors and designs available, polymer floors can be visually appealing for visitors as well. By carefully selecting the right polymer floor for each area within a given facility, having the systems professionally installed by a manufacturer-certified contractor, and following simple care recommendations, the flooring system will not only safeguard the facility’s concrete slab investment, but also provide a beautiful, high-performance surface.
Daily and Weekly Care
Fluid-applied polymer resin floors require no waxing, making them an extremely popular choice in large-scale facilities. Being able to forego the obligatory chemical stripping, application of wax, plus buffing and polishing can help minimize custodial employee overtime hours, in addition to avoiding the investment in special training of the techniques needed to correctly perform this type of skilled maintenance.
Even in high-quality slip-resistant floor coatings, a dirty surface can present a slip hazard. In addition, allowing grit and soil to remain on the floor for an extended time can lead to otherwise avoidable abrasion and scratch marks. Simple daily care helps polymer resin flooring perform as designed, providing maximum performance and safety, while continuing to look great throughout its long lifecycle.
Depending upon the texture of the finish, daily sweeping of dry floors with a dust mop, pliable-bristled push broom, soft-bristled mechanized broom or vacuum sweeper is usually sufficient to remove any dry, loose dirt or debris from the dry flooring surface. A dust mop typically works well on smoother finishes. Soft-bristled broom options are better for highly slip-resistant floors. An adjustable-setting vacuum sweeper is useful for any type of dry resinous flooring.
For floors in wet processing facilities, such as in food and beverage plants, using a rubber floor squeegee throughout the day to periodically push liquids toward drains and then ensuring that drains are regularly cleared of debris is standard practice. Wet vacuums may also be employed, as required.
Weekly washing of epoxy, urethane and other polymer resin floors is typically sufficient. High-use areas may require more frequent cleaning to maintain performance and appearance over time. Managers should assess floor traffic patterns to determine the cleaning needs of different locations within their facility.
For moderate traffic commercial and industrial floors, washing with a dilute solution of a mild detergent in water and a mop and bucket or soft-bristled mechanized scrubber is typically effective. In areas with heavy soil or stains, allow the solution to remain on the floor for 10 to 15 minutes before agitating with a soft bristle brush or soft rag; avoid the use of blue or more aggressive scrubbing pads. Always rinse away the cleaning solution with fresh water. After rinsing, the floor can be left to air-dry on its own.
Steam cleaning is not recommended for the majority of floor coverings, including most resinous flooring. The exception is cementitious urethane resinous flooring, which is highly thermal shock-resistant and performs admirable when exposed to the regular hot power washing and/or steam cleaning in food and beverage processing plants and commercial kitchens.
While regular cleaning helps facility floors maintain their durability and appearance over time, accidents may happen that can potentially compromise the performance of the flooring system while presenting safety risks for employees and visitors. Understanding how to handle to these issues in advance can make all the difference.
Spills: Spills of any type should always be dealt with as quickly as possible to help minimize slip, trip and fall events. To help avoid surface damage, careful matching of the flooring system performance to the substances used in the space is imperative, as different polymer resin flooring systems provide different levels of resistance to diverse chemicals. Diligent resinous floor selection and professional installation helps ensure the various concentrations of spilled caustics, acids and solvents present in a given facility will not compromise the surface.
In all cases, wearing appropriate safety glasses, gloves and other gear is recommended during cleanup of spills. Grease, chemical or oil spills should be wiped up with a circular motion to avoid spreading if possible. Steer clear of initially using a mop, as this can inadvertently expand the affected area. After substances are removed, clean the area with a mild detergent solution and rinse with fresh water. Dispose of any chemical waste in accordance with local regulations.
Stains & Tire Marks: High-performance resinous flooring, when properly selected for the application at hand, is highly chemical- and stain-resistant. However, should staining occur, removal should first be attempted with a mild solution of detergent and water before progressing to a stronger cleaner. Do not employ abrasive cleaning chemicals, as they risk damaging the floor’s surface during stain removal. In addition, avoid cleaners containing acids, such as citrus cleaners or vinegar.
Plasticizer stains—such as the marks left by rubber tires and wheels—can occur when black rubber wheels are in contact with the floor for an extended period of time. The plasticizer chemicals in the rubber can seep into some finishes and leave dark shadows or marks on the floor. The stains do not affect performance, but can be unsightly in a light-colored floor.
Prevention is often the best way to avoid this issue. Plasticizer-resistant high-performance topcoats are an ideal pre-emptive strategy. Once fully cured, these finishes provide an excellent stain-resistant solution. Placing a barrier between the tires and floor surface is also a useful technique. However, should plasticizer stains occur, the marks can be carefully sanded and recoated.
In general, the sooner a stain is acted upon, the less chance it has to set in. For any maintenance concern, be sure to follow instructions from your floor coating manufacturer. As always, use hand and eye protection when handling strong cleaning substances.
Scratches & Gouges: Once again, choosing the right flooring system for the specific application comes into play. By installing the right high-performance flooring system for the activity within a given facility, floor surface damage from daily wear and tear can be avoided.
Regardless of the system, avoiding the dragging of heavy machinery, pallets, or sharp or jagged objects across the floor is a good practice to help avoid potentially scratching or gouging the floor system. Should the exceptional scratch, cut, or gouge occur, remedies are available. It’s best to consult your manufacturer for the appropriate solution.
Durability and Customization
With proper care and maintenance, epoxy resin and other fluid-applied polymer floors can retain a like-new appearance, appealing to all who enter the facility. Regular sweeping and light scrubbing helps keep the floor finish in top shape. In addition, occasional deep cleaning helps to maintain the performance and aesthetics of the floor. Even the best traffic surface will eventually approach the end of its usable life. When this time finally comes, resinous flooring can receive recoats.
Quality manufacturers offer unique performance options such as antimicrobial protection, Betadine stain resistance, and the ability to withstand exposure to harsh chemicals, impact, abrasion, heavy loads and compression. Slip-resistance can also be adjusted during installation to accommodate facilities’ specific needs.