Claims related to scratches, scuffs and scrapes on hard surface and resilient floors is a prevalent problem. I am not referring to one deep gouge in one spot where it’s evident that an object pierced the floor. I’m talking about situations where the source of the problem is not glaringly evident and marring is visible over a large span of flooring. This is especially problematic when a newly installed floor becomes damaged and neither the cause nor the solution is easily identified. Everyone involved wants to blame someone else for the problem.
No floor is immune to scratches, scuffs and scrapes. The best anyone can do is put preventive measures in place that can minimize or eliminate the risk of damage to a floor. It is more difficult to remedy the problem after damage occurs, however, this is when I usually get called into a project to help solve the problem. So I want to take this opportunity to educate consumers and end-users before their flooring becomes the topic of a dispute.
There are many scenarios that involve floor scratches, scuffs or scrapes severe and widespread enough that they get noticed. One is with existing floors in high-use, heavily furnished areas; another is in busy traffic zones that are travelled frequently by people moving furniture, carts and/or equipment. A third is new floors damaged during the renovation or new construction of a facility before anyone even moves into the space.
When we focus on floors in high use, heavily furnished areas common culprits of gouges, dents and scratches are chairs with neglected glides. You’d be amazed at the condition I find the feet of the chairs when I turn them upside down in a restaurant, classroom or busy waiting area to look at the chair’s point of contact. Give it a try! Good chance you’ll find exposed metal or wood, worn down glides or dirt filled felt pads. These abrasive textures come in contact with the smooth floor and continuously abrade the hard surface until it shows signs of wear and numerous visible scratches. Now, I am going to tell you “how the Cow Eats Corn”! Like every other part of a facility, furniture bases need routine attention and care, especially on pieces that move a lot, otherwise you will be plagued with “FURNITURE WRECKIN MY FLOOR” syndrome.
When it comes to furniture, most commercial and institutional furniture is fitted with plastic glides on the base. Furniture suppliers typically have basic knowledge about the type of glide to use on different types of floors. Rule of thumb: Hard floor = soft furniture glide; Soft floor (i.e.: carpet) = hard furniture glide. You may think the factory supplied glide is enough to protect your hard surface or resilient flooring however it’s likely that it is not. The primary purpose for furniture glides is to provide leveling adjustment, protect the furniture item or enable the furniture/chair to move across a floor with an reasonable amount of force. Ironically furniture fitted with plastic glides on the furniture base for a hard surface resilient floor is only a recipe for damage.
To protect the floor, a consumer or end user may need to recruit additional resources to find an appropriate soft felt furniture protector that attaches to the base or feet of a piece of furniture. Start with your furniture vendor or flooring supplier. They may be able to supply commercial quality furniture floor protectors or at least direct you to a reputable resource. My experience is they will have little to offer.
Keep in mind that all felt pads are not created equal. Basic felt pads can be found in the grocery store, however, seldom will they hold up to aggressive commercial use. Depending on the amount and type of use, there are many felt pads to choose from. Some adhere with aggressive self-stick backing or clear sleeve attachments, others mechanically affix with screws or compression bolts. In order to find the right solution for your facility, someone (at the facility) will have to take ownership of this responsibility and it does not stop with a single purchase. Find the right fit and perform ongoing maintenance to minimize excessive wear and tear on the floor. Check felt pads routinely for built-up dirt and debris. Clean or replace pads on a quarterly basis (timing may vary depending on furniture use and application) and sweep floor often to remove loose dirt and debris that can damage floors.
Investigate your options. Ask for samples to try. The felt pad or glide needs to fit the furniture and the environment. If you experience a lot of broken glides due to abuse, opt for a more substantial felt based glide that has a somewhat permanent attachment. More expensive up front, it will likely save you time and money in the long run. Quality furniture floor protectors are critical when it comes to preserving and extending the life of a floor.
Flooring maintenance is the other factor, in control of the end user that contributes to a floor’s performance. A maintenance program must be in place and executed routinely. This starts with applying a flooring finish compatible with the floor material so that the floor can withstand the abrasion received on a daily basis. First step is applying a flooring finish or polish to put an added layer of protection on the floor. I like to call it a sacrificial coating. The key to a floor’s longevity is to choose the right sacrificial coating; then put in place a system for cleaning and maintaining the floor that includes daily cleaning, periodic polishing or spray buffing and scheduled recoating (time spans will vary depending on floor use and product selection). Flooring finishes have an expected life from a few months up to a few years so do some research and select a floor finish product that meets your needs then set up a cleaning and maintenance routine. Floors that see intensive use may do well with an extremely durable, permanent coating like Dr. Schutz WaxNoMor. Others may find that a combination cleaner/maintainer product better meets their needs. Deciding what type of maintenance system to implement will depend on the type of floor, flooring manufacturer guidelines, amount of traffic on the floor and the ability of the maintenance staff to sustain routine maintenance procedures. Consult with representatives from your flooring vendor, flooring manufacturer and maintenance products distributor until you feel you have enough information to make an educated decision regarding floor maintenance products and procedures. Many floors may simply need a system in place for protective pads on the furniture without a coating of any kind. Or make it easy, just call me, Reggie Hill, 302.750.2533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Not only can I get you to the right product, but we can often get you free samples to try before a major purchase. In fact, 1877FloorGuy.com has a smartphone app – FLOOR PROTECTORS SIMPLIFIED – that puts you in direct contact with our professionals to guide, direct you and answer all your questions.
When I get involved with a flooring project it is typically a call to investigate a claim after damage has occurred. My initial push is to gather information during my front-end loading. The information typically indicates a heavily utilized area loaded with furniture or equipment, especially chairs and tables.
Occasionally I am called out when a new floor is installed as part of a construction project and damage happens before the space is even in use. When damage occurs at this stage, it’s not always clear who is to blame so it’s my job to research the facts that are known and to follow clues in the pattern of damage in order to determine the root cause of the scratches, scrapes, gouges or indentations, how and if the problem can be remedied and the damage rectified. In one such situation I was asked by a flooring manufacturer to trouble shoot the problem and found a new LVT floor at a mock-courtroom at a prestigious university destroyed by post installation move in and the new FURNITURE with the wrong floor protectors. My job was to determine the root cause of the failure and implement an action plan that would appease the client and preserve the integrity of the specification at the University.
First, due to the furniture’s quality and expected use, I chose a high end protector that not only was a customized to fit the furniture without any glaring design conflicts, but once the retrofit was complete, the protectors would far exceed anything currently available in the US market in regards to truly protecting the floor from furniture damage. Second, I had no choice but to apply a product from Dr. Schutz, WaxNoMor Plus, that is infused with a proprietary additive that not only mends the current scratches, but will also make the surface approximately 22 times more scratch resistant than the original factory finish. After one year of use and a follow up call, this was the comment offered by the University’s VP of Facilities “…I was just in this room last week. It looks just like when you finished your work. From my standpoint, you did what you said you were going to do. That is all I can ask. I am very pleased with the end product. Thanks for checking back…” Problem solved! Happy Customer!
Preventive Floor Care Tips:
- Flooring industry standard for load limits, printed in most flooring manufacturer instructions, calls for a minimum one inch flat surface at each point load to sit firmly on the floor’s surface; casters will require the same minimum of 1-inch surface or if it is split it should be at least ½ inch on each side of the split.
- High heeled stiletto shoes can wreak havoc on a floor because of the extreme point loads exerted by that tiny pressure point. If any damage occurs from heels in an environment where it is occupied by the same people daily there is a good chance someone has a heel that has lost its protective pad.
- Walk off entry mats at all points of entry to a building are a must to remove damaging dirt and debris that tracks in from outside. When maintained and used properly, a walk off matt can remove 90% of the tracked-in dirt and moisture before getting to the floor’s surface.
- A spray buffing program can radically improve a floor’s overall appearance when surface scratches are present but not severe.
- Dr. Schutz Waxnomor Plus is a unique product that may greatly improve the appearance of a severely scuffed floor because its ability to fill scratches and, when fully cured, prevents scratches better than the floor’s original factory finish.
- Before starting any repair or maintenance routine, always check the flooring manufacturer’s product literature or consult with their technical service department to confirm the products and procedures are approved for use on the flooring material and test applied finish products in a small, inconspicuous area before full application.
- A product was recently introduced by SchutzNA, ScratchFix Kit. It is intended to fill unsightly scratches in a floor without needing a professional to execute the work. My initial work with this product suggests that it is a very good option when isolated damage occurs and the end user is looking for a quick and easy approach to repair.
Be a wary consumer or end user when shopping for a new floor and ask lots of questions to all parties who have a hand in a new floor performing successfully. This includes everyone from architect, interior designer, flooring and furniture salespersons, flooring contractor and facility maintenance manager. Discuss realistic expectations for the flooring material, finish products and maintenance recommendations from the manufacturer, how to protect the floor from furniture setup and use, equipment moves, ongoing construction and proper placement of entry and walk offmats. Make your goal to avoid flooring damage from the start by eliminating “FURNITURE WRECKIN MY FLOOR” syndrome.