Education Facility Managers

A Facility Manager’s Guide to Wood Flooring Maintenance

by Jason Brubaker

Maintenance of wood flooring in commercial buildings is vital to have a safe surface for employees and customers while maintaining the beautiful and sophisticated appearance of the floor materials. Facility and building managers will need to have the proper knowledge and training in regards to the type of flooring that they will clean and service. Here is a simple guide to wood floor maintenance that can be used to prolong the lifecycle of the wood materials while offering preventive advice that can be used to minimize damage.

Installation Stage

There are two types of flooring that can be installed into your restaurant, bar, hotel or other commercial business: pre-finished wood and unfinished wood. If you have pre-finished wood installed, it will already be coated with a polyurethane finish to protect the surface. Unfinished wood will be lacking the polyurethane coating as you will need to have the wood sealed prior to it being put into use.

At this time, the business owner may also decide to apply a stain that better suits the interior design of their commercial establishment. The floor will require sanding before the stain is applied to create a smooth surface. Facility managers must consider the type of sanding equipment to use as well as the dust containment system to prevent the contaminants from entering other parts of the establishment and ruining the enjoyment of your customers or guests if the commercial business will remain in operation during the installation process.

Once sanded, the polyurethane coating can be applied following the manufacturer's instructions. Once the finish is applied, the facility manager can perform the regular cleaning and periodic maintenance tasks to maintain the wood surface.

Daily Maintenance

Deciding on the right daily cleaning services will be based on the type of commercial business that is in operation, the outdoor environment and other factors. You may be in charge of a building that experiences a high amount of foot traffic from employees or customers that requires you to perform nightly sweeping of the surface.

The outdoor environment also plays an important factor. If you are in charge of a resort facility near the beach or has pool access, or a golf course where an abundant amount of dirt from shoes will get onto the surface, you may be required to perform multiple cleaning services throughout the day. Select the daily and weekly schedule that is appropriate for the establishment to lessen the amount of dirt, debris and damage the floor undergoes from commercial business activities.

Most flooring in facilities will require sweeping and spot mopping to maintain the luxurious wood surface. Vacuuming is also ideal on a weekly basis to pull up dirt that may get between the seams of the flooring.

Periodic Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning usually isn't recommended on a daily basis. The constant use of cleaners and equipment can quickly strip the finish off the surface, causing the wood floor to become more exposed to dirt, debris and moisture. Only perform periodic deep cleaning on a monthly basis to keep up the eye-pleasing beauty of the wood surface.

Never use any type of harsh cleaners that are recommended for other floor materials such as vinyl or tile. Always consult the wood flooring manufacturer's instructions in regards to the right cleaning products to use that will not strip the finish from the floor or cause unnecessary wax build-up. Look for hardwood floor cleaners that are specifically designed for wood floors that have a polyurethane finish and contain a low-VOC formula to help with the interior air quality of the commercial establishment.

There are many tools and equipment that can be used to perform periodic deep cleanings such as auto scrubbers, commercial mops and buffers. Always inspect any flooring equipment before use to ensure there are no problems that may end up scratching or marring the surface of the wood floors.

Yearly Finish Maintenance

Over the course of a year, the finish on the wood flooring can start to look dull, faded or scratched. Reapplying a finish can help to restore the look of the wood floors as well as reseal the wood so that it can maintain its water resistant and stain resistant properties.

There are several different types of finishes that can be applied to the surface based on how you want to treatment to interact with the wood flooring. The type of finish to use will be based on the type of flooring you have. Some finishes will change color over time, which may or may not be desirable. The main types you may use include natural oil finishes, water-based finishes, oil based finishes, UV cured finishes, moisture-cured finishes, wax finishes and conversion varnish finishes.

Each finish will have a sheen factor that will offer a different amount of shine to the surface. Consider the design factors of the facility to determine the right sheen for the wood floors.

  • Matte (flat) sheen: This is the lowest level of shine to add to the floor as it has a 25% luster
  • Satin sheen: The most popular type, it provides a brighter shine level than matte sheen (about 40% luster) without the glossy look
  • Semi-gloss sheen: Semi-gloss is a step up in the shine level to satin sheen as it offers around a 55% luster with a glossier appearance
  • Gloss sheen: This sheen reflects the most amount of light and has the highest amount of sheen at about 70% luster

Apply the maintenance finish coat according to the provided product instructions. You may find that the floor of your commercial facilities might not require yearly finish maintenance due to the low amount of foot traffic. You can then expand the maintenance schedule to be every 3 to 5 years for when you want to apply a finish coat.

Sand and Refinish Repair

While wood flooring is durable and strong, it won't maintain its sophisticated appearance as scratches, dings, chips and stains will mark the surface. As the facility manager, you will need to perform sanding and refinishing repair to the wood flooring to remove the damage.

Hardwood flooring can be sanded and refinished numerous times. Yet engineered wood surfaces are a different factor. Engineered wood has a wood veneer surface of real hardwood with a plywood base underneath. The number of times it can be sanded will be based on the thickness of the top veneer. Normally, if there is at least 3-millimeters of veneer on top, you will be able to sand and refinish the wood flooring two times.

It is vital to perform the sanding and refinishing in the best manner to prevent problems and issues. Hiring a professional wood flooring specialist is normally ideal to get the floor evenly sanded and coated. They will also have the equipment and work crew available to perform the work on a greater scale if you have a large commercial facility with wood flooring throughout the premises.

Preventive Maintenance Tips

During daily business operations, you want to prevent as little damage as possible to the flooring. Take the following preventive measures into consideration.

  • Protective felt pads: Whenever possible, use felt pads when moving heavy pieces of furniture or other equipment across the floor to prevent scratches, gouges and nicks on the surface.
  • Throw rugs: Placing throw rugs at door entrances can minimize the amount of dirt and debris that comes in contact with the wood flooring.
  • Fewer wax treatments: Wax buildup can occur frequently in commercial facilities, especially under pieces of furniture and other floor fixtures. Buff wood floors instead if the wax creates a filmy, dull appearance on the wood.
  • Spill cleanup: Always clean up any water or liquid spills immediately. Always dry the wood flooring in areas that experience lots of moisture that becomes tracked in from outdoor spaces.

Maintaining wood floors can keep them looking beautiful for the long term. Develop a floor maintenance plan to ensure that the tasks are always accomplished, as often you may find yourself skipping the daily and periodic floor services due to hectic work schedules and tasks in other parts of the commercial building. Yet keeping to the established schedule can prevent future issues that can be costly to the maintenance budget.