Schools – does your floor really need another layer of polish?

To strip or not to strip?

Summer, Easter and half term breaks are traditionally the time when schools maintain their main indoor floors.

The orders for paper consumables go quiet but demand for floor strippers, polishes and maintainers increases.

We’ve recently taken the time to inquire how these products are being used and visited several schools this summer to offer some advice on the best way to approach the flagship floor in their school.

Work in small manageable areas. NB. the marks on the blue floor are from the stools and chairs being dragged across the floor

Work in small manageable areas. NB. the marks on the blue floor are from the stools and chairs being dragged across the floor

The Common Issue

The main issue rests with stripping.

  1. Strippers are used to prepare for a fresh coat of polish but they often do not remove all layers of polish (and to be fair, sometimes total removal isn’t necessary)
  2. Some schools don’t strip at all. Another layer of polish is applied and then buffed year after year.

The problem with adding layers of polish is that dirt is locked in until you strip it thoroughly. Even if you strip the floor, you may not get underneath all the layers and attack the dirt that was locked in years ago unless you take it all off.

One school we visited applied polish three times per year for eight years. 24 layers of polish later and we’re helping them strip back the floor for a fresh start. See all those years of polish below!

This is what years of polish looks like when stripped

This is what years of polish looks like when stripped

Educating the Education Sector

Non-cleaning employees often look at a large floor area, see it glistening in the light thanks to a fresh layer of polish and assume it’s clean. This is often why it’s hard to get budget sign-off to have the floor professionally stripped and sealed.

However, you and I know that it’s not clean. It’s a superficial job. The answer? Perform a thorough strip & seal on a small patch and then offer it in comparison to the rest of the floor.

Years of polish below, stripped back above. Do this to help explain to stakeholders

Years of polish below, stripped back above. Do this to help explain to stakeholders

Unfair Expectations

Cleaning teams in schools and colleges have often inherited the responsibility of maintaining huge floors yet have not necessary been given the training required (or the budget to outsource it to a specialist) – sound familiar?

We Can Help – Our Offer

We’re offering a training package that includes teaching your cleaning team how to strip, seal and maintain a floor whilst actually performing the job. Get in touch with the dimensions of your floor and some dates and we’ll pop over, take a look and provide a quote. We’ll work around your schedule and can come in during holidays and even weekends.

Call us on 01252 877200 and ask to speak to Ollie or Dave.

Compare the white floor tiles. And to think the school management just wanted to whack on another layer of polish!

Compare the white floor tiles. And to think the school management just wanted to whack on another layer of polish!

In a Nutshell (quite a big nut)

If you and your team are confident enough to tackle your floor then take note of these keys tips:

  • Products – patch test your stripper on a small area to gauge it’s strength and dolution rates required to lift the old polish, plus the techniques required to remove the polish without too much aggitation
  • Products – Strippers, polishes and maintainers are like a family. Use the same brand for all three stages and refrain from mixing. They like to work in harmony together and are designed to do so by the men in white coats
  1. Stripping – work in small areas (approx 10x10ft). Contact time is key so read the label. Ensure all the polish is off the floor which may require you to repeat the process. Some stubborn areas might require more elbow grease than others so if a black pad on a rotary machine isn’t working, try a floor scraper. Ensure all stripper is rinsed and picked up leaving the floor bone dry
  2. Polish – Choose your stripper carefully as this will have a huge impact on the amount of work required down the line. Ask us if you’re not sure. Once you’re happy that the floor is fully stripped and dry, apply three coats (waiting for it to dry between applications) with a lint free mop.
  3. Maintaining – If a floor has been well stripped and sealed, the maintenance should be relatively easy. Reapplying polish shouldn’t really be necessary as the maintainer will protect the polish and also bring back the shine. After all, there are three coats of polish on the floor now and they won’t have worn away. You just need to reactive that shine using a tan floor pad on a buffing machine and some good floor maintainer 3 or 4 times per year.
Remember to always take regular breaks with your Source mug - this is hard work!

Remember to always take regular breaks with your Source mug – this is hard work!

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