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To Polish Or Not To Polish!

This month, Matt Baines from Premiere Products looks at the future of floor treatment, and weighs up the pros and cons of polishing amid reports of declining sales.

As a business with close to 90 years experience in the manufacture of products for the cleaning industry, floor polishes have always been very close to our heart. Through detailed analysis we know that sales of floor polish have shown a shallow but undeniable decline in recent years. What’s interesting though is that the same analysis also reveals that sales of lower gloss products remain relatively low compared to their high gloss counterparts.

We can surmise then that those who continue to apply floor polish are mostly in favour of high gloss finishes. This being the case perhaps the question is not a matter of whether low gloss is preferred in favour of the high gloss finish, but rather is there any merit in applying a floor polish at all? “To polish or not to polish” if you will!

There is a widely held misconception regarding floor treatments that glossy floors are slippery and therefore a Health & Safety risk. However this is quite simply not true. Under ‘normal’ conditions, any floor polish should provide excellent levels of slip resistance. We at Premiere utilise an American method of slip resistance testing, referred to as the James Static Friction Test, and have a threshold written into our ISO 9001 quality control policy that all batches of manufactured floor polish must meet before they are bottled and released for sale.


Floors that are protected by the application of a floor polish require a considerably higher maintenance input than a floor that is left untreated. To a cleaning service provider this means more labour and therefore more cost. In the rush for proven productivity, the majority of cleaning service providers take up the option of not applying a protective polish to the floors on any given contract. The rationale here is that to do so would then necessitate the relatively labour heavy maintenance techniques of regular spray buffing and periodic spray cleaning with single disc rotary machines. The preferred route therefore tends to be that of leaving floors unprotected and simply cleaning regularly with scrubber dryers.

Whilst this may appear to be a more affordable option in the short term, there are a number of occasions when the end result is actually more of a long term false economy than a reduction in life cycle cost. The life span of a standard commercial vinyl or linoleum floor can often be prematurely called to a close as a result of harsh cleaning techniques chosen on the basis that they deliver high levels of efficiency.

Future Considerations We cannot escape the fact that the technology used in the design and manufacture of floor coverings has evolved significantly since the ‘boom’ floor polish period of previous decades. Floors with PU coatings

and fully integrated PUR protection, available most commonly in vinyl, are now the frequent floor type of choice when commercial buildings are being newly built. The major benefits of purchasing and installing a floor with this level of protection are that it is guaranteed to remain in good condition for a prescribed period of time without the labour intensive stripping and reapplication works that are required with a floor polish based system of treatment and maintenance.

We should be more than prepared to welcome changes in technology that bring innovation whilst also recognising more traditional techniques that aid the protection and preservation of floor surfaces and prolong life expectancy. Not only would this deliver savings in building maintenance costs but would also be notably sounder from an environmental aspect.

We are prepared to accept that, at present, there seems to be a trend in favour of low gloss floors, but we would prefer to see cleaning service providers using satin finish floor polishes in order to protect their client’s floors with something substantial as opposed to leaving them naked to the ravages of foot traffic and aggressive cleaning methods.

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