Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Slip-Resistance on Tile Floors

The following is a compilation of facts regarding slip-resistance of floor finishes: The slip resistance of floor finishes (coefficient of friction) is measured on an apparatus known as a James Machine. The results of the James Machine, when compared to actual floor condition, becomes somewhat nebulous, but it still remains the best test available. The readings measure the static coefficient of friction (slip resistance) and give a numerical rating of 0.1 to 1.0 with 0.5 being the figure set as the limit of safety. Readings higher than .5 are progressively less slippery and hence safer. Numbers progressively lower than 0.5 are more slippery and considered unsafe.

A newer generation slip resistance apparatus is the Topaka unit which measures dynamic coefficient of friction (slip resistance). An unfinished or unwaxed floor is very often faster (more slippery) than a finished or waxed floor. In most cases the application of finish or wax actually controls slip.

Conventional spray buffing is a major factor affecting slip-resistance. Spray buffing hardens the finish and thus speeds up the floor. There is a definite correlation between hardness and slip. Conventional spray buff (a mix of finish, water and cleaner) lowers the coefficient of slip by about 0.025 points thus speeding up the slip on the floor. Today's modern spray buff and mop on dressing compounds will control the slip on a floor. After using Spray Buff or Mop on Restorer on a finished floor, the slip index will usually read 0.05 0.075 higher on the James scale; slowing down the floor (making less slippery).

Spray buffing is a valid and economical method of floor maintenance and is here to stay, but the proper choice of chemical compounds is important in relation to safety.

Water spillage on floors creates an extremely hazardous condition. Water acts as a lubricant between the floor substrate and the bottom of the shoe. Spilled water, condensation, food and drink should be cleaned up immediately. Good quality walk off mats should be placed at entranceways to prevent rain and snow from being brought in by foot traffic.

Residual mop treatment film or residue from furniture polish, metal cleaner and lubricating sprays will greatly increase the slip on the floor surface.

Avoid overspray onto floor. Clean up residues promptly using a good heavy duty cleaner-degreaser. Dust created by burnishing or dirty floors will cause a floor to become more slippery. Sweep or damp mop floors on a regular basis.

Common Floor Types and Characteristics




Natural and stone that is quarried and cut to desired size


Stains due to spills, oil, grease, etc.; soft, tends to scratch & dust from sand & grit; sensitive to acids & hard to clean grouting.

Mixture of portland cement and two parts marble chips that is
ground & polished


Stains easily (rust, grease, oil, spills); scratches from abrasives: sand & grit and sensitive to acids, organic & crystallizing salts

VINYL (Pure) or NO WAX
Mixture of vinyl chloride, plasticizer & pigment. Known as homogeneous vinyl

Yes, Do Not Remove

Some have thin surface coat; sensitive to grit, sand, pads & cigarette burns; difficult to strip: assumes shape of sub-floor, indents at 150 lbs/sq. in.

Mixture of vinyl chloride, plasticizer inert filler, pigment & asbestos fibers


Brittleness to abrasives, embossed designs are hard to strip; whitish cast when stripped burnish to remove, indents at 25 lbs/sq. in.

VINYL (Composition)
Vinyl chloride, plasticizer, inert filler and pigment

May or may not - this is dependent upon manufacturer recommendations

Brittleness to abrasives, embossed designs are hard to strip; whitish cast when stripped, burnish to remove, indents at 25 lbs/sq. in.

Natural wood usually birch, beech, maple or oak.

Don't Remove, Light Sand to Recoat

Stains and is damaged by water, grease, abrasives, oil & high alkaline cleaners and requires special products and procedures.

Floor Pads Shine Under Pressure

They can take the heat -- and they're aggressive.

Developed to replace polish brushes used on low-speed equipment, floor pads give increased flexibility to a floor maintenance program.

If one pad doesn't produce the results needed, simply try a different color pad. Light-colored pads are least aggressive and are usually used for polishing. The most aggressive pad is black and is used in stripping procedures.

A pad's aggressiveness is related to the number of resin "rocks" on the pad's surface and the type of synthetic or natural fiber used in the pad's construction. Manufacturers dip pads in (or brush pads with) a resin solution to hold the fibers together. When the resin dries, it leaves small resin "rocks" on the fibers.

Pig's hair is a natural fiber used in pad manufacture that is popular with many floor care professionals. Rubberized pads are also available for high-speed burnishing. 

Three variables affect the way a buffer performs: downward pad pressure, pad contact area and pad speed. These variables are best described by heat-generating potential. For example, propane buffers generally produce the greatest heat at 3,000 rpm, with full pad contact at high pad pressures. 

Too Fast and Hot 
Altering the aggressiveness of the pad can offset deficiencies in pad pressure and pad contact area. Overly aggressive pads may produce the desired heat but may leave circles in the floor finish. Powdering of floor finish is also a characteristic of using an excessively aggressive pad.

Many manufacturers design pads for specific types of equipment, such as propane and battery buffers. Ask your distributor or manufacturer for a recommendation when purchasing floor pads, and be sure to tell them what type of buffing equipment and floor finish your crew uses.

When choosing a pad for a cleaning operation such as automatic scrubbing, the least aggressive floor pad that does a satisfactory job should be used to help prevent damage to the floor shine. Many cleaning chemicals, especially non-neutral cleaners, can temporarily soften floor polish. 

Pre-burnish pads for use with propane equipment have become popular where there is light floor soiling. Using these pads can be more time efficient than automatic scrubbing, and they can be used in rotation with automatic scrubbing in some floor maintenance programs. 

There are two ways to construct a floor pad. Some manufacturers use a layered design in which pad fibers lie roughly parallel to the floor. Pads that have fibers running vertically can deteriorate 50 percent faster. This is a result of pad wear on the looped ends of the fibers, eroding the pad structurally.

Shake and Brush to Clean 
Polishing pads should be cleaned often to eliminate build-up that can scratch the floor polish. Clean pads by removing them from the machine and shaking them in a plastic bag to remove dust and imbedded debris. Pads can also be brushed with a stiff plastic bristle brush.

Cleaning and stripping pads can be cleaned by soaking them in a light stripper solution for five minutes, then brushing them with a stiff brush while rinsing with clear water. Be sure your crew always wears protective clothing when working with stripper solution.

Some manufacturers and distributors provide pad cleaning services which pick up your pads and return them ready-to-use. They may also clean employee uniforms and entrance mats.

Even though a used pad can be cleaned, it doesn't mean that it will always produce the same results as a new pad. Pads begin to lose their resin rocks as the pad is used. Be careful to avoid overusing them.

Floor pads do have their limitations. Uneven floors are best cleaned and stripped with a floor brush on a low-speed machine or automatic scrubber. Ordinarily, uneven floors are maintained with a low-speed program, eliminating the need for high-speed equipment. 

Brushes have yet to successfully bridge the gap to high-speed applications. Although some floor care equipment manufacturers are beginning to market high-speed brush machines, most floor care professionals still use pads when using high-speed equipment.

Have your crew test pads to find the best one for the floor care procedures they perform.   Finding the best pad for your equipment and floor polish can determine the success your staff has in maintaining good-looking, clean floors.

Copyright National Trade Publications, Inc

Hard Floor Maintenance

Hard floors include a wide variety of different types of surfaces from both man-made and natural origins. Concrete is probably the most commonly used hard floor surface. Terrazzo, marble, natural stone, clay, ceramic tile, and brick flooring are valuable members of the hard floor surface family as well. Although this article is not exhaustive it is our intent to provide helpful information on the major hard floor.


When cleaning tile, terrazzo, or marble, employ a preliminary rinse before using any cleaning solution. This simple operation consists merely of dampening the surface with soft water using a mop, a sprayer, or a sprinkling can before applying the scrubbing solution. The clean water is absorbed by the pores of the floor and consequently prevents the deep absorption of the cleaning compound. By using the preliminary rinse, the yellowing of hard floors due to residues may easily be avoided.

It should be pointed out that the preliminary rinse does not cost any money because it enables faster scrubbing. It permits the cleaning to be done easily and more completely. It cuts down on the amount of cleaner needed and saves the floor surface. It is strongly recommended as a regular practice on hard floors.

Plain concrete flooring is unattractive in appearance and very drab if left untreated. If the floor has not been sealed, dirt, oil and grease can easily penetrate and discolor the surface. Before applying any seal it is extremely important that the floor is cleaned, etched if needed, and dry. The particular sealer to be used for concrete will depend on the job to be done and the desires of the customer. All American is the best option interior for concrete floors.
Terrazzo floors have been in existence for a very long time, with several floors in the Mediterranean area that are more than 3,000 years old. Terrazzo floors are not resistant to acids due to the high content of marble. Some harsh alkaline solutions will also do considerable damage to an unsealed terrazzo floor. It is generally agreed that the best seal for terrazzo will be waterbased and light in color. Defiant and All American are water-based coatings that leaves a tough, traffic-resistant surface. When multiple coats are applied, All American serves very well as both a sealer and a finish coat. It dries quickly without strong odors. It is colorless so it will not darken even the lightest colored floors. When it is necessary to remove the product, it will not require the harsh, strong alkaline strippers that could lead to damage of the surface. Super Automated Stripper is very adequate and safe for this type of floor.

Clay tiles include all types of floor tile having a basic clay composition, which ranges from cheap quarry to the more expensive vitreous or semi-vitreous tiles. They are either glazed, having a glossy surface fused upon their face, or they are unglazed with a duller appearance.

Quarry and other types of clay tile require little in the way of routine maintenance and are comparatively easy to keep clean. Many floors are maintained with a neutral detergent such as Blue Lighting.

Perhaps one of the most common cleaning problems is the removal of hard water deposits and soap scum from washroom and shower floors. Both the deposits left by hard water and soap scum are alkaline; due to the lime content, they cannot be removed wilt normal types of detergents. This soil can, however, be removed with a mild acid solution such as LAV GLO. The solution should be allowed to act for a few minutes and the floor scrubbed, if necessary, with a nylon or polyester floor pad (brushes work best for grouted floors). After treatment, the acid solution should then be thoroughly rinsed from the floor with clean water.

Brick flooring usually consists of clay, either vitreous or semi- vitreous. Sand, lime, and concrete bricks can also be used for flooring. Normal maintenance should be carried out by sweeping, followed by washing with a solution of neutral detergent, such as Blue Lightning.  Sealing is not generally recommended for brick floors, however, if a sealer is desired for the grout two coats of a water-based acrylic seal such as  would perform well.
 Aquathane HP
Marble, granite and limestone are the most common floor and tile types that you will encounter. However, there are other stone types that you may encounter. In most situations it should not be necessary to seal natural stone floors. However, it is recognized that in some circumstances a seal may be desired to protect the cement or grout and occasionally to add gloss to the surface. If the floor is subject to heavy traffic it may require resurfacing on a stringent maintenance schedule. For these occasions, a water-based, acrylic type seal that is water-white in color while possessing non-yellowing characteristics should be selected.
Slate can be found both indoors and out. Slate can be a problem since it contains high clay content and will often flake, spall and easily develop efflorescence. This is especially true in wet areas. Slate is best treated with a high quality finish such as Granite
Sandstone is a sedimentary material that consists of sand crystals cemented together with natural clays. Sandstone is very porous and should be sealed with a penetrating seal such as Granite.
Quartzite is also a rare flooring material but is gaining in popularity. It is classified as sandstone. For this reason if exhibits all the properties discussed under the sandstone category.
Shell stone or Coquina is limestone composed of broken fragments of shells and corals. It is a sedimentary material and is very porous. Its shell or cord fragments easily identify it. It is a very abrasive stone and should not be resurfaced.
Flagstone is a term given to almost all stone material cut into thin, irregular shapes. It is found extensively on sidewalks, foyer entrances and Pool decks. Flagstone should be cleaned and sealed with a penetrating sealer; such as Granite.

Onyx is a type of marble. It is very expensive and can be found on tabletops and small pieces of furniture. It can be treated just like marble while possessing a high shine.

Soapstone is one of the softest materials, which is composed of the mineral talc. For this reason it makes an excellent carving material and can be found on fireplace surrounds and hearths. It is treated like marble.

Floor Maintenance Costs

Characteristics of The Major Floor Care 
Maintenance Systems

 Scrub & RecoatWeekly Spray BuffDaily BurnishingWeekly Burnishing
Labor CostLowModerateHighLow
Product CostModerateLowHighModerate
Total CostLowModerateHighModerate
Ease of ImplementationEasyModerateModerateEasy
Initial AppearanceVery GoodExcellentExcellentExcellent
On A Daily BasisVery GoodVery GoodExcellentVery Good
Key BenefitsMinimal Care Low CostDaily High Gloss Shine in Moderate TrafficUltimate In High Gloss & Retention In Heavy TrafficLabor Saving, Daily High Gloss Shine in Moderate Traffic


Hard Floor Maintenance and Floor Surfaces

Asphalt Tile / Linoleum
Products with a pH above 10 will emulsify protective coatings leading to a rapid deterioration of the tile. Solvent-type cleaners tend to soften, or even dissolve asphalt, linoleum tile. Stripping solutions should fall in a pH range of 10-12. Stronger solutions can cause running or bleeding of the color pigments in the tile.
Vinyl / Vinyl Composition Tile 
For maintenance of all vinyl flooring, methods and materials are the same, as the vinyl flooring is virtually immune to solvents and is highly resistant to acids and alkalis.
Although some manufacturers claim a protective coating or wax is not necessary, there is no floor covering that is impervious to abrasive friction and wear.
Finished Wood 
There are many types of wood and just as many types of coatings for them. It is best to use a neutral or mild alkaline solution for cleaning. Perhaps most important is to keep the amount of cleaning solution and rinse water to a minimum to avoid the wood fibers from absorbing water and becoming damaged.
Quarry / Ceramic Tile 
While both quarry and ceramic tile are virtually impervious to most elements, the grout surrounding them may not be. When using an acid product, be sure that complete and thorough rinsing is done. Acidic products may eat away at some grout as it would a lime deposit.
Natural Marble 
Acidic products should never be used on natural marble, as marble is composed of limestone which is attacked by acid just as an acid would dissolve a hardness film. A moderate or strong alkaline product may discolor (Lighten) marble, and for that reason their use is not recommended.
Seamless (Poured Urethane) etc.. 
Very durable flooring that is impervious to most chemicals used in cleaning. These floors are sometimes poured in several steps, and if faulty preparation is done between steps, a deterioration of the floor may occur on its own. It would be best to avoid strong alkaline cleaning solutions.
Concrete floors should be sealed with a special sealant periodically during its lifetime to enable the concrete to resist soils that would penetrate it. The use of a strong acidic product or a strong alkaline product can deteriorate the concrete if it has not been sealed.
Marble or Granite chips set in mortar and then ground smooth is a terrazzo floor. Some people believe there are special sealers used on terrazzo floors and there is no real need for any other protective coating. However, as with any type of floor you must apply a sacrificial coating in order to preserve and protect the marble chips. As well as provide an anti-slip surface.
Conductive Floors  
Found in health care and hospital units such as surgery, intensive care or where oxygen is used. Conductive Flooring allows static electricity to be conducted to the ground without the spark you sometimes encounter. This property of the floor helps to avoid explosions in an oxygen rich atmosphere, so it is very important that only an approved product be used and very thoroughly rinsing be carried out.
Metal Cross-linked Polymer Floor Finishes 
These are synthetic floor finishes where the plastic molecules in the floor finish are bonded together with a metal ion to produce a polymer floor finish that is unaffected by water, detergents and stripping without the use of ammonia. Typically the more coats of these floor finishes the more shine you will get and the slip resistance is not diminished.
Silica Filming 
A white film on a surface that cannot be chemically removed. This film is caused by the use of a sillicated (metal protective) product that has not been thoroughly rinsed off. it can also be caused by an acidic product used on grouting between tiles and not rinsing thoroughly.


Condition Of Floor 
Floors that have been regularly maintained for several years with buffable waxes are difficult to strip, occasionally impossible. Essentially, the wax turns into part of the floor A customer must commit time and effort required to strip the layers of wax if this is not possible, then a buffable finish is recommended.
Floor Color
Dark colored floors enhance powder, scuffs, dust and scratch marks. it is important to remember this before making a recommendation to the customer. Black heel marks show up more easily on light colored floors. Protect these with a highly black mark resistant floor finish product.
Entrance / Exterior Conditions 
Buffable and non-Buffable finishes become quickly scratched by tracked-in sand and grit Usually, buffables provide better protection than non buffables against abrasive foot traffic. Because Ultra High Speed finishes are pliable, they generally can be recovered by buffing provided that enough finish is still on the floor.

Regular cleaning will help floors last

Consider amount of pedestrian, industrial traffic to determine needs.

Boasting unlimited design options and excellent durability, resilient flooring performs well in many heavy commercial applications. But as with any type of flooring, a resilient floor will last longer and perform better when it is regularly cleaned and maintained.

When planning a maintenance program, remember that the amount and type of pedestrian and industrial traffic the surface will be subject to will determine the cleaning and maintenance needs of the floor.

The type, style, color and pattern of the floor also contribute to the frequency and intensity of maintenance needed. Solid-colored floors tend to show scuffs, scratches, dirt and general wear more than patterned floors, especially those in light shades.

Once you determine the wear your resilient floor must endure and examine factors such as color and traffic pattern, you will be able to address your individual maintenance needs.


Light daily sweeping, dust mopping or vacuuming will prevent dirt and grit from being ground into the floor. If the floor is diligently swept daily, a light weekly cleaning with a damp mop may be enough to remove dirt.

For more resistant soils and weekly cleanings, wet mopping will be required. Frequency of mopping will depend on the color of the floor and the nature and amount of soiling. Regular swabbing of entryways using a commercial-grade cleaner will help extend the life of the floor.

When choosing a floor detergent, look for products that are low foaming, general detergents that may be used in automatic scrubbers. A good detergent will also have neutral pH to remove dirt and protect polish and be highly concentrated to allow for low dilution ratio.


Apply cleanser with a sponge mop. After the soil deposits have been loosened from the floor, mop up excess detergent and water. Rinse with clean, warm water to remove all residues, since any detergent film remaining will cause stickiness and will trap tracked-in dirt.

Do not flood the floor because excess water may harm floor seals and adhesives. Keep off the floor until dry.

Scuffs and Marks

Periodic buffing with a slow speed buffer will remove most scuff marks and light scratches. Buffing also will add luster while dislodging dirt and blending touch-up spots with the original finish.

Difficult scuff marks not removed by mopping or buffing can be removed using a nylon scouring pad. Use a solution of neutral floor cleaning detergent, rub gently and rinse well.

Floor Finish and Luster

Over time, high traffic areas will lose their luster and gloss. Touch up worn areas before the finish film wears through completely to prevent permanent damage or staining to the floor surface.

Never apply finish to a dirty floor because it will trap the dirt under the surface. Mop the floor if it has been exposed to traffic since the last finish application.

Be certain no floor cleaner is left on the floor before applying finish. Applying finish over a cleanser film reduces the water resistance of the finish and may leave it spotted.

Good polishes contain high-performance acrylics and a high solid percentage. High solids allow for easy application, excellent leveling and buffing results, and dry bright without buffing.

Once the floor is thoroughly cleaned, apply a light coat of polish to restore luster. To apply, pour liquid into a clean, shallow pan. Dip in a sponge mop and wring out gently, leaving it saturated with finish.

Apply finish to the floor by mopping in one direction to ensure a thin, even coat on the floor. Most finishes dry in about 30 minutes. To apply additional coats, make sure the first layers are completely dry.

Do not force-dry the floor, it may lead to a powdering of the finish.

Removing Build Up

Occasionally you may need to strip old layers of floor finish and apply a fresh coat.

Never use the same equipment for applying finish as you have used for removing it. Even small traces of stripper will prevent the new finish from adhering properly.

Floor stripper or other products that are ammonia-free, fast-acting and detergent-enhanced (allowing the chemicals to strip efficiently without harming the floor) are good product choices. Quality strippers will also be easy to use and won’t require use of abrasive pads or brushes. They will have a high solid content for increased protection of the floor surface.

Dilute a solution of stripper as directed and mop onto the floor. Let stand for 10 minutes and mop to remove the solution and unwanted build up. Rinse and dry fully, and then apply a fresh coat of polish as directed above.

The above guidelines were provided by Domco, manufacturer of Azrock Commercial Flooring.

All Content Copyright National Trade Publications Inc.