Many schools view their gym floors almost as a school mascot. The floor showcases the pride students and staff have in their schools.  And because of this, they invariably want their gym floor looking its best at all times.

To do this, we need a gym floor maintenance program.  Here are some of the key program components:

Mats: Most gym floors are made of maple or a similar wood product. To protect these wood floors, the first step involves the placement of mats at all gym entries.  Because some people may walk across the gym floor, it is often a good idea to place mats and runners crisscrossing the gym floor.  This provides a direct walking path from one side of the gym to the other while protecting the floor.

Mopping:  Regularly wet or dry mopping the floor is crucial to the appearance of the floor and is the most effective way to extend its life. Contaminants can be pounded into the gym floor with use and foot traffic, damaging the finish on the floor and the floor itself.  It is best to use a microfiber or flat mop for this task or an automatic scrubber for a deeper clean. Select a quality pH neutral cleaning solution that cleans the floor without impacting the shine.

Stripping: Stripping a gym floor can be the costliest part of a gym floor maintenance program. Because of this, we need: a high-quality wood floor cleaning solution formulated to remove the floor’s finish and a low-speed floor machine.  Apply the cleaning solution to one small floor area at a time, ensuring that the solution does not dry on the floor. Use the low-speed floor machine to strip this area.  Make sure the correct floor pads are used.  Check with your janitorial distributor if you are unsure which pads to use. Once this is completed, rinse the floor two or more times to remove chemical residue and soils.

Finish: This is our final step.  When selecting a gymnasium floor coating, always select the highest quality coating possible. A high gloss, water based, urethane acrylic coating is made to leave a high-gloss shine on gym floors. Many times, it is recommended that a sealant be applied first. This provides added protection for the floor and serves as a foundation for the floor coating.

When selecting the floor coating, ask about its “drying” and “curing” times. This tells you how long it will take for the coating to dry and then harden. Typically, this takes about two hours depending on climate conditions. Usually, two coats are applied to the floor.

More Points to Consider

Here are some more things school administrators should know about the cleaning and maintenance of wood gym floors. For instance, it is recommended to select cleaning solutions made by the same manufacturer. These cleaning solutions and coatings are often engineered to work together – they have synergy. This will make the job easier, faster, and less costly.

Put the most emphasis on the regular mopping and auto scrubbing of the floor. If the floor is used every day, this may mean mopping/scrubbing every day. The more frequently this is performed, the more we can stretch refinishing cycles. This will save us a considerable sum in time and money.

Finally, look for cleaning solutions that have been certified by such organizations as the Carpet and Rug Institute, the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice program, or other reputable certification organizations.  These certifications indicate that not only are the products safer for the user and the environment, but they are also very effective. Gym floor cleaning and maintenance is too important a task to select anything less.

For more information on gym floor maintenance and products, contact Charlotte Products at