Learn how to use the summer break to your floors’ advantage
Before the real work gets started, you’ll need to plan and prepare. Dariusz Malachowski, unit director at SSC Services for Education, says proper planning and communication are the most important ingredients in a successful summer floor cleanup. “The preparation starts months before. It is a two-and-a-half-month-long project and needs to be treated as such,” he says.
Here are the steps Malachowski and other floor care experts take and recommend in the months leading to summer:
Evaluate the condition of all floor surfaces—A thorough evaluation will help you decide which type of restoration is necessary. Prioritize areas that need a full strip and recoat versus top scrub and recoat. “This allows me to determine how much product I will need to order and gives me a rough idea of the time allotment for each building or area,” Malachowski says.
Select your cleaning chemicals—Selecting cleaning products can be overwhelming, but just remember that one size does not fit all, and more is not always better, says Andrew Wolfe, a formulating chemist for coatings at Spartan Chemical Company Inc. “Choose the cleaner and finish that works best for your facility,” he says. “Do you need a rapid repair? Something that requires low maintenance? Or something that is environmentally preferred? Also take into account the correct concentration of each chemical, as over-diluting or under-diluting your floor finish remover can cause problems such as tacky, gummy residue, or simply not getting the finish off the floor.”
Order supplies—Most facility managers will need to order more or different products and tools for summer floor refinishing compared to what they use during the school year. Malachowski uses large quantities of floor finish, finishing pads, and stripping pads. Ordering supplies early ensures his distribution center has them in stock and will ship products to him on time. “The worst thing that can happen is having your crew show up for work and not having tools or supplies for them to work with,” he says.
When ordering supplies, don’t forget safety equipment. “Be sure to have chemical-resistant footwear, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and goggles, as well as ‘wet floor’ signage,” Wolfe says. “Most importantly, this is a messy process, so make sure to protect yourself with a coverall.”
Inspect and repair equipment used for summer cleanup—Some floor machines have likely been sitting in storage for months and you’ll need to ensure they are in good working condition. Having spare parts for most critical pieces of equipment so that you can make repairs when a breakdown happens in the middle of the summer is a lifesaver, Malachowski says. “You need to have a stock of squeegee blades, gaskets, and filters for your wet vacs and auto scrubbers. A spare vacuum motor can save two weeks of idle time.”
Inquire about planned summer school activities—Find out when summer schools, camps, athletic practices, construction, or IT and maintenance projects will occur, and plan your projects accordingly. It is critical to go into summer work planning with as much information as possible, Malachowski advises. “You do not want to have summer camp kids run into your school on Monday morning while you have your crew stripping floors because nobody thought of notifying you. This is a true story from my past summer cleanup,” he warns.
Make a detailed plan for daily and weekly accomplishments—This plan needs to consider all the information you have gathered about summer school activities. Share this plan with all the stakeholders. Give them a timeline to review and approve it. “You’d be surprised how often they will add things they forgot about initially,” Malachowski says.