Part II of IV – Preventative Measures – Scratches, Gouges, and Scrapes… Imagine That!?!

walking on entry mat

As a general “rule of thumb” damage to a hard surface or resilient floor can be minimized with preventative measures including placement of entry door mats, use of furniture moving aids, use and care of felt furniture protector glides and routine sweeping. There measures are simple and necessary in order to avoid permanent flooring damage.

 

First, walk off mats at building entrances and in high-traffic zones are the most effective first line of defense.

Walk off matting will remove up to 90% of tracked-in soil and moisture (reference the case study below). This preserves interior flooring surfaces and reduces maintenance costs by reducing the amout of debris that is carried throughout the building from the outdoors. Slip, trip and fall incidents will be minimized by stopping moisture before it comes into contact with hard surface floors.

Extending entry mats beyond the lobby and into the high traffic zones of your building such as heavily travelled corridors, elevator waiting areas and key locations in cafeterias or restaurants. The more matting that is in place, the less wear on your hard floors and the less chance of moisture tracking beyond the mats.

Be warned—- to be effective door mats require cleaning and routine maintenance!


ENTRY MATS CASE STUDY  by Forbo                                                                                                            

project: Princeton University Store
location: Princeton, NJ
entry mats: Coral® Mats – Brush Activ 5830
This study looked at Coral Mats after 6 months of use in a busy, on-campus, university convenience store that is open 7 days a week with constant foot traffic, on average, 1500 shoppers per day. Results of the study show how effective the entry mats were in holding dirt, even after 6 months of use, evident in the piles of dirt that were removed from the mats with a standard vacuum cleaner. The vacuumed mats recovered well and looked great for continued use. The store’s manager reported fewer slip and fall incidents because the mats hold most of the moisture tracked in when there is rain or snow outside. Their Forbo Marmoleum floors, cleaned only 3 – 5 times per week, remained in excellent condition since the door mats took the brunt of tracked-in debris and refinishing the floor just once a year was enough to maintain good condition.


 

Second line of defense, use moving aids to move heavy furniture and equipment.

Moving furniture and equipment should always be done with the correct tools. This is especially important in high traffic zones and during construction of a new or renovated space since the floor goes in before all other trades are done with their work. Using moving aids to protect the floor and reduce human strain will prevent irreparable damage to the floor and reduce the likelihood of worker injury. If a large area needs to be protected, use clean ¼” plywood or Masonite to protect the floor. This is advisable during heavy furniture or equipment moves or when trades are working on top of a new installed floor.

Failure to take this step leaves you liable for worker injury, damage to the floor or both. Take the time to do this right because if you don’t “have time” to do it right the first time, when will you find time to FIX IT?

 

Third line of defense, felt furniture glides on all movable furniture, especially tables and chairs in high-use, heavily furnished areas.

Furniture protector glides were talked about in Part 1 of this 4 part series on Scratches, Gouges & Scrapes but it can’t be reinforced enough! Commercial and Institutional environments need heavy duty, commercial-grade felt furniture floor protectors and they need to maintained to be effective.

furniture-glides-group
Commercial-Grade Heavy-Duty Felt Furniture Pads. First two images show round and cut-to-fit self-adhering furniture pads. Third image shows clear sleeve protector.

 

furniture glides that mechanically attach
High-use environments where standard commercial glides frequently break, an ultra durable, mechanically affixed glide may be the best solution.

All felt pads are not created equal so bypass the basic felt pads like you see in the grocery store, they will not hold up to aggressive commercial use. Depending on the amount and type of use, there are many felt pads to choose from- self-adhering, clear sleeve attachments, slip-on, slip-over, compression bolts and more. Take the time to find the right fit and attachment mechanism for your application. Once in place, check felt pads routinely for built-up dirt and debris. Clean or replace protector pads on a quarterly basis (timing may vary depending on furniture use and application) to remove small particles that create micro-scratches in the floor that, over time, will dull the finish and potentially damage the floor.

Investigate the many felt protector options and try samples. If you experience a lot of broken glides due to abuse (common in education), opt for a more substantial felt based glide that has a somewhat permanent attachment. Quality furniture floor protectors are critical when it comes to preserving and extending the life of a floor.

Think beyond tables and chairs… way beyond! if it sits on the floor and moves, find a way to add felt pads so hard objects don’t drag against hard floors.  For example, a large ice chest, which can weigh up to 800 pounds (used for medical transport of donor organs) was being dragged across the floor causing damage. I provided several options to the hospital to prevent this item from further damaging the floor including 1.An Airsled®  system that uses air pressure to lift a heavy piece of equipment, 2.A rudimentary system that included a modified piece of plywood with a ribbed top to prevent the cooler from slipping and a replaceable felt pad underside, and 3.A pair of packaged  4-ft felt-backed slides. In another situation, I created disposable booties for a hand truck, that traveled routinely to the building from a gravel parking lot so that the tires never touched the floor inside the building and would no longer cause damage from embedded rock fragments.

cooler causing damage to floor
Cooler causing damage to hospital floor.

The key to this third line of defense against flooring damage is diligence on the part of the end user to utilize floor protectors  and keep them in good condition so they continue to do the job of protecting the floor.

 

Finally, the fourth line of defense requires time and good broom and dust mop.  Sweep your FLOOR! 

Sweeping, simple yet very important to minimize the amount of soil and debris that gets tracked throughout a building on shoes and carts. Tracked in dirt is abrasive to hard surface flooring. It leaves scratches in the surface that collect dirt causing a floor to look dull and dirty. Frequency for sweeping will depend on your facility’s location, use and amount/type of traffic. Some facilities will need to swept multiple times each day while others may find that a dust mop does the job of removing dirt well between sweepings.

In Part III of this IV part series on Scratches, Gouges and Scrapes, we will dig deep into the dark side of flooring damage and find out what can be repaired and how to go about it. Part III will not be for the “weak” and bring your lunch ‘cause we got work to do!