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Commercial Flooring News

Wood: Advice On Keeping Up Appearances

Terry Guilford on cleaning & maintenance

MANY of the articles I have written in CFJ recently have focussed on wood floor sanding and finishing, which is not something that interests all of you who read this magazine. However, there is one way that you can all make money from wooden floors without the major expense of floor sanding equipment or training required to be proficient in cleaning and maintenance.
At this point you may be thinking ‘don’t most clients just mop the floors themselves? The answer is yes, but then they can mop tiles and vinyl themselves also. However, some still get these chores done professionally from time to time!
So what do you need to do before embarking on any kind of maintenance on a wooden floor? The first thing is to decide what type of finish the wood is treated with. Is it a penetrating finish like oil hard wax oil or is a surface type finish (a lacquer or varnish)?
Most people know how to spot the latter because the product ‘sits’ on top of the wood and has a certain depth and sheen to it. But they are less sure about the oiled or hard wax oiled floors.
To spot oiled or hard wax oiled floors, first ask the client. Oiling floors is relatively specialist so the client will usually often know that what type of surface they have.
Secondly, look to see if there is surface build, or if it appears that there is nothing on the surface. Thirdly, floors that have just oil will sometimes have a more worn appearance and some signs of penetration by water or other spills.

Hard waxes are the most difficult for the untrained eye to spot as they may have some surface build and are chemically very resistant. However for these reasons it need not be so bad if you do get it wrong. Whilst it wouldn’t be technically correct to clean these floors like a lacquered one and then coat them with an emulsion, it would be unlikely to damage them.
The next step is to assess the level of damage done to the floor. An oiled floor (or any of the derivatives) can be cleaned providing there is some oil left on the floor. While this can be done with the neutral ph cleaner and a mop, it doesn’t really impress the client.
Much better is to use a refresher product designed for this type of finish which will both clean the floor and top up the oil in one go. If the oil is quite worn and you are feeling adventurous, it should be well within the capabilities of all of you to ‘top up’ the existing oil by cleaning the old finish and applying fresh oil using a rotary machine and a proprietary pad.
Better still, why not offer the client one of the new (much tougher) catalysed oils. The latter two options would need some training especially in the case of hard wax oils but they are very ‘doable’ and profitable.
With a lacquered floor it is possible to clean the floor with a rotary machine and a red pad. This is done by spraying a ready mixed solution onto a small area of floor at a time and using the pad as both the cleaning and soil extraction tool.
Very dirty floors such as ballrooms; bars etc. are better cleaned using the red pad as just the medium to break down the soil and a wet vacuum to remove it. With this method you will still use a neutral clean, but this time it is better put in the tank of your rotary and apply it over an area of no more than 10 – 15sq m, scrub the area and then extract quickly.
Remember water is the enemy of wooden flooring, so clean a small area and extract as quickly as possible. What then happens if your lacquered wooden floor still looks dull and lifeless after cleaning? What about using a professional emulsion just like you would on some other surfaces?
Wood floor emulsions come in a basic form and also in a non slip variety and are applied pretty much in the same way as for any other surface, thinly with each coat applied at 90 degrees to its predecessor and avoiding too much build up at the edges. It is estimated that there are 10,000sq m of wood flooring fitted in the UK every week, do you really want to miss out on the opportunity of maintaining it.
Terry Guilford is technical director of The Ultimate Floor Sanding Co, a corporate member of the National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA).

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at