Scratches, Gouges, and Scrapes…Imagine that!?!
Part I of IV
Claims related to scratches, gouges and scrapes on hard surface and resilient floors are a prevalent problem. I am not referring to one deep gouge where it’s evident that an object pierced the floor while being moved. I’m talking about situations where the source of the problem is widespread and marring is visible over a large span of flooring, but not glaringly noticeable until you begin to look closely. 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 and given enough time the problem will eventually find its way to the flooring manufacturer as their problem…NOT!
No hard surface floor is immune to scratches, gouges and/or scrapes, not even concrete or porcelain tile. The best anyone can do is implement preventive measures that minimize or eliminate the risk of damage to a floor before they occur. It is much more difficult to remedy the problem after damage; however, this is when I usually get the call to dig deep into the problem on the project. In the spirit of resolution, I wanted to educate everyone in the chain from Architect to End User and everyone in between by sharing my years of experience addressing these matters.
There are many scenarios that involve floor scratches, gouges or scrapes severe and widespread enough that they get noticed. One is with existing floors in high-use, heavily furnished and another is in busy traffic zones that are travelled frequently by people, carts and 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 the common culprits of scratches, gouges and scrapes are chairs with neglected glides. You’d be amazed at their condition when I turn chairs upside down in a restaurant, classroom or busy waiting area to look at the chair’s feet. Give it a try! There is a 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 with every scoot until it shows signs of wear and numerous visible scratches. Add a little dirt that seeks the scratches, gouges and scrapes as a safe haven and you have a recipe for a disgusting floor that now harbors germs, bacteria and infectious diseases. Like every other part of a facility, furniture bases need routine attention and care, especially on pieces that move a lot.
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 (ie: carpet) = hard furniture glide. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, 68.9% of the commercial flooring market was comprised of carpet about a year ago. As a furniture manufacturer it is natural to fit all production furniture with a hard glide or protector for a soft surface (ie: carpet). 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 a leveling adjustment, protect the legs or feet of the furniture item and of course minimize friction when the furniture is slid across the floor’s surface.
To protect the floor, a end user may need to seek 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 and flooring supplier. They may be able to supply commercial quality furniture floor protectors or direct you to a reputable resource.
Although most damage to floors can be traced to improper floor protectors, a thorough investigation will often uncover unusual contributing factors unrelated to furniture that cause severe damage.
OK, I am convinced that YOU get IT…now I am going to “tell you how the cow eats corn!” That is Texan for laying out the cold hard facts on preventive measures in Part II and of course corrective measures for damaged floors in Part III. And finally Part IV will pull it all together in an easy to follow reference tool that can be used in every stage of Scratches, Gouges and Scrapes! Hang on, because it will get worse before it gets better…