In a major shift in design aesthetics for commercial buildings, more and more facilities are now choosing to install hard surface floors—VCT, stone, ceramic tile, wood, and even bamboo-—instead of carpeting.
There are many reasons why this switch makes sense. For one, hard surface flooring can last longer than carpeting in certain applications. Further, depending upon the application, hard-surface options often costs less to install and maintain.
Another flooring trend is choosing not to apply a finish to hard surface flooring. While this may work in some settings, applying floor finish is more than just an aesthetic choice. True, finishes are designed to produce an attractive shine. But their fundamental purpose is to protect flooring from scratches, heavy foot traffic, rolling carts, and more, all of which can damage the floor. Using the right floor care chemicals can also make floors safer, minimizing slip-and-fall accidents.
Although floor finishes are often the right choice for both appearance and maintenance reasons, they can present a problem when it comes to “greening” floor care. Some traditional floor care chemicals, especially strippers, contain a variety of potentially hazardous chemicals and ingredients. And that attractive shine mentioned earlier is often created by ingredients that can release high volumes of volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) into the indoor environment. Finishes also can contain a host of potentially dangerous ingredients.
Thankfully, there are ways to make floor care green. And even better news, some manufacturers are developing more options to make floor care less harmful to the environment. To keep floor care green, cleaning professional need to remember three important facets about floor care maintenance: vacuuming, chemicals, and equipment.
Custodial workers typically clean floors using a dust mop, or even by simply sweeping them. These cleaning methods release considerable amounts of dust, soils, and contaminants into the air. This can negatively impact the health of cleaning workers. And once these contaminants become airborne, that dust can also spread throughout a facility. Cleaning professionals can eliminate this problem by vacuuming floors instead of sweeping and a wise alternative is to use a backpack vacuum cleaner.
When backpack vacuum cleaners (workers use a specially made harness to wear the machine on their backs) were first introduced to the industry, their key benefit was considered to be that they can speed up the cleaning process. But when these machines are equipped with a HEPA filter, they are also perfect for cleaning many types of hard surface floors. These filters trap 99.97 percent of all particles greater than 0.3 microns, preventing such contaminants from being released into the air, and helping to make floorcare greener.