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In the UK we dispose of 583,000 tonnes of flooring every year – at considerable financial cost and with serious environmental impact, given that over 90% goes straight to landfill. Undoubtedly some surfaces are beyond saving, but floor cleaning experts PHS Interclean argue that many floors are replaced prematurely and with the latest maintenance and preservation methods many can be transformed and their lifetime significantly extended.

Floors are one of the biggest capital assets in any organisation and every day they suffer the most wear and abuse, under a stampede of feet. As any cleaning professional knows, keeping them clean is a challenge and keeping them in top condition both visually and functionally is even tougher. This being the case, it can be a relief to hear from facilities or estates that a floor is being replaced – but at what cost?

If we consider an example building where flooring materials are mixed, then with 100 square metres of stone (perhaps in the reception), 200 square metres of wood (typical in the canteen or social spaces) plus 7500

square metres of carpet, a total replacement could easily add up to around £300,000. This is capital expenditure and when organisations are struggling to secure finance and avoid unnecessary spend, it’s crazy to consider if existing floors can effectively be renovated. It’s known as ‘sweating the asset’; getting longer life from the asset and hence greater return on investment (maximised ROI).

Complete restoration using the mixed flooring example above is unlikely to exceed £8,000 – a tiny percentage of replacement cost and likely to create similar impact. Even heavily worn or damaged floors can be restored and stone, for example, can have a life that stretches centuries.

Replace or renovate? Before any floor replacement is considered it’s a practical step to first have it assessed for refurbishment or renovation. Deep cleaning may rejuvenate a stained or heavily soiled carpet to give a fresh and highly presentable finished result. The same is equally true for wood, stone and other hard flooring. Having your floor assessed will cost nothing and yet

the potential saving could be huge.

Restoration for stone floors may mean diamond grinding and resealing – removing the top layer of the stone and revealing a fresh, unsoiled layer beneath, which then must be protected. In areas where staining has leeched deep into the stone or erosion occurred, the floor can be matched and patched with replacement stone, with successful and impressive results.

For wood floors a similar approach means sanding back the top surface to remove damage and any compromised seal or worn varnish. Again, once a fresh, new, unspoilt surface is exposed, this needs to be protected with an appropriate sealant, which becomes the surface that is walked on, rather than the wood itself.

When sealing hard floors a raft of choices are available. The visual finish can be selected on a spectrum from high shine (which need not be slippery), to ultra matt. Slip resistance can be decided and the sealant selected to provide the right level of anti-slip for the situation and use of the floor.

The future of our cleaning industry | TOMORROW’S CLEANING | 43 TRANSPORT CLEANING

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