By Jim Flieler, VP of Sales for Charlotte Products

It’s the time of year when the squeak of sneakers across gyms all over North America can be heard and the excitement of March Madness fills the air. As basketball teams scuff up gym floors, spectators enter gymnasiums with food and drink that inevitably spill and students wreak havoc on these shiny points of pride, it’s time we revisit the four critical elements of wood floor care. In this blog, I’ll share some of my best practices and tips of the trade to ensure your wood floors stay safe, healthy and clean all year long.

Achieving a Healthy Wood Floor

The overarching goal for hardwood floor care, beyond that squeaky sneaker sound, should be a smooth surface. Remember, the smoother surface on a floor, the less porous it is, and the healthier and safer the floor is. That also means there is less opportunity for infection to spread by seeping into holes growing. 

Floor reservoirs can become a home for microorganisms. Sports floors will have a higher risk of virus and bacteria transfer as sweat, spit, drink spills, and other sorts of organic matter splatter across them throughout the school year. This becomes a perfect host environment if not properly sealed. The wooden gymnasium floor is the largest square footage in most school buildings, and that’s why it is so important to have a great cleaning program but also to choose the right floor finish. 

The Four Critical Elements of a Wood Floor Program

In a gym, there is a small margin of error because of such a large surface area. If you mess up caring for your wooden gymnasium floor, it is a very costly process to recover. That’s why it is very important that you follow the four elements of a wood floor program now.  If you do, you will not only make the floors cleaner, safer and healthier but you will also prolong the life of your floor.

Pre-routine: Pre-routine wood floor care should focus on all external entrances, where the gym joins the great outdoors. These are points of entry where you are bringing moisture, salt, ice, grit and soil into the gymnasium. These outside elements can be detrimental to wood floors as sports activities will immediately grind coarse grit, sand and rock salt into wood floors causing scratching. This is why your points of entry from outside must be protected with heavy duty entrance matting. The cost of a $100 entrance mat can go a very long way! Next, you’ll want to vacuum those mats frequently throughout the day. Reinforce those entrance points to keep the outside where it belongs.

Routine care: Your routine care should focus on the internal entrances. This includes all doorways that adjoin the rest of the building. You will have thousands of students, athletes and spectators walking your facility’s hallways carrying all sorts of soil and potential spill items into your gymnasium throughout the day. I recommend a quality dust mop or flat mop program dedicated to these entrances. This program should include frequent daily cleaning protocol to match the type of activities you have going on throughout the week. When you have dedicated tools and match your cleaning frequencies to the activity schedule for your institution, you will have an active and engaged routine care program that prolongs the life of your wood floors. Don’t blend this care protocol into other areas of the gymnasium. Keep the mop system, backpack vacuums, dusting tools dedicated to your internal entrances to make sure that these areas are getting the level of cleaning required to protect that gym floor all day every day, no matter what is going on.

Interim floor care: Your interim floor care program will be the part of the program that helps keep that high shine on your wood floors and protects your building occupants. This floor care program will include a burnishing cream with a burnisher that will instantly clean, repair and eliminate scuff marks. The interim program smooths the surface, prevents nooks and crannies from forming and reduces the risk of bacteria spread. I always recommend our ES95+ Traction product as a powerhouse component in any interim wood floor care program.

Restorative care: This is the part of the wood floor care program that takes that top one or two coats off and provides a new top coat. This is a disruptive process that will force your gym to be shut down. However, if you do the first three steps well and do them frequently, you won’t have to worry about disrupting your gym because restorative floor care will be needed only infrequently.

Remind yourself of these four elements of a comprehensive wood floor care program to get your gym floors in the best, healthiest and safest condition possible. I believe that focusing on pre-routine and routine care will go the longest way toward keeping your floors in the best condition possible. Watch our webinar on the four critical elements of a wood floor care program to get more in-depth information. 

Want to know more about the products mentioned here or need more wood floor care tips? Contact an expert at Charlotte Products today.