The Floor Finish is the Foundation
It was not that many years ago that property managers, wanting their hard surface floors to have a higher-gloss shine, would ask their jansan distributors and contract cleaners if they could suggest a good “wax” to use on the floor. For more than a century, that was the term used to describe floor finishes, and there was a good reason for it. Many of the early floor polishes were pastes made from leaves of the carnuba plant mixed with other ingredients. These waxes were combined with water to make a liquid paste, which could be buffed using a low-speed machine to clean the floor and produce a reasonably good shine.
Polymer emulsion finishes, introduced about 40 years ago, were the first really big advance in floor finishes. These were more durable than waxes, easier to apply to the floor, and usually required little maintenance other than dust and damp mopping. However, over time, the appearance of the floor—specifically the shine—would deteriorate, usually requiring that the floor be stripped and refinished.
From here, metallic floor finishes were introduced that offered more protection to the floor and, unlike their immediate predecessors, could be buffed. This meant scratches, heel marks, and more deeply embedded soils on the surface of the floor could be removed by buffing, restoring the floor to a high-gloss shine. This also helped reduce strip/refinishing cycles, which proved—among other things—to be a significant cost savings.
Today, many floor finishes incorporate a combination of ingredients including acrylics and polymers that are far more protective of the floor—the ultimate goal of a floor finish—and can also be burnished using ultra-high-speed burnishers. It was with these finishes that the “wet look” floor, often found in medical facilities and grocery stores, was introduced.
How Much Is the Floor Worth?
Because the finish is the foundation of an effective floorcare program, selecting the correct one and the most cost effective finish is among the most important decisions a facility manager or contract cleaner can make. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to simply ask ourselves, how much is that floor worth?
We answer this by determining if the floor is in a high-traffic, highly visible and important area of a facility, such as a lobby, or a service entrance or walkway used exclusively by staff and vendors of the building. Where and how the floor is used will have an impact on the amount of time, energy, labor, and money that the facility manager will likely want to spend on the floor . . . in other words, how much the floor is worth to the manager.
This will also determine what types of floor finishes will likely be applied. For instance, for the service entrance, a highly durable floor finish that provides a moderately high-gloss shine with infrequent buffing would probably be the best finish selection. The goal here is first to protect the floor and then to keep the floor looking clean and presentable.
For common areas or office areas used by both staff and visitors of the facility, a more versatile finish that combines durability and reparability and that can be burnished regularly to maintain a higher-gloss shine would be the preferable choice. Finally, for more prominent areas where a “wet look” shine is desired, an ultra-high-speed burnishable finish is the best bet. This is a high-maintenance floor that may need to be cleaned and burnished daily in order to achieve the desired wet look.
Product Manager, Floor Care, Betco Corporation
Rob is an avid Cleveland sports fan and hopes to one day experience a championship. He also enjoys hanging out with his wife and 3 kids.