By Jim Flieler, VP of Sales Canada
Gyms at universities, K-12 schools, community centers, churches and public stadiums have changed their safety protocol to stay open to sports during the pandemic. Many gyms are limiting the public allowed inside, enforcing mask wearing and physical distancing, disinfecting touch surfaces like door handles and sports equipment and increasing the frequency of cleaning. As your facility pays close attention to infection prevention measures inside its gym, please don’t forget to care for your wood floors. Below I share some of my best tips for caring for your wood floor, with a focus on infection prevention for not only times of global health emergencies, but also the future.
Why Coatings Are So Important
A wood floor is porous, meaning there are nooks and crannies where bacteria and viruses can hide and multiply. A protective coating helps to fill in those holes so that germs can’t get into the floor. But it also makes cleaning the floor much easier. A well cared for and properly applied floor coating is what contributes to that shiny look and the sound of squeaky sneakers that coaches love so much. It also enhances adhesion, prevents slips and falls and increases the durability of your floors. Applying coatings and caring for them with frequent cleaning and periodic refinishing is an essential component of your facility’s long-term plans and short-term infection prevention goals.
Now’s Time to Refinish
These late winter and early spring months are an opportune time to refinish your wood floors and ensure your protective coating is helping your infection prevention efforts. Use this year when the public is mostly at home to prioritize your floor coating. Oftentimes, floor refinishing will get put off because the process requires the closing of the space for at least 24 hours, and gyms have busy schedules. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, buildings are much less busy. This is the perfect time to catch up on your floor refinishing. As buildings may begin to open up over the summer as vaccinations increase and COVID-19 cases decrease, this might be your best opportunity to prepare for next school year, too.
Look for Low VOC Floor Coatings
Historically, floor finishing products have been some of the most harmful products for human health and the environment. When you are looking for a product program for refinishing your floors, you will want to look for a water-based coating with low VOCs. Recent innovations in product development have allowed manufacturers who prioritize health and sustainability to produce much healthier products. For example, our floor finishing program has been verified by the UL program to show it is safer for the environment and the health of end users. Always look for verification from a third party when you are searching for “greener” products.
Training Tips for Wood Floor Refinishing
When we train end users with our floor refinishing program, we say it will take between one and two hours between coats depending on humidity levels. The gym floor will be ready for use within 24 to 48 hours. You will need two workers to prep and recoat a typical gym in one day. One of these workers will need to be a spotter to help ensure the product is applied evenly in all spots. Typical equipment used for preparing these floors are a swing machine, automatic scrubber and a wet vac. for applying the wood finish, we recommend a weighted t bar, which helps apply the right thickness and consistent appearance.
To learn more, view my in-depth webinar on the evolution and most recent enhancements for wood floor coatings. Our floor refinishing program is available online, with product demo videos on our YouTube channel.