Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Cost-effective maintenance of stone flooring

September 19, 2010
As the use of sustainable design and LEED certification continues to grow, so does the use of stone flooring.

Marble, terrazzo, and the increasingly popular polished concrete are beautiful floors, but can be expensive to maintain.

Breaking it down
In fact, up to 20 pounds of dirt can be tracked in by just 1,000 people coming through an entrance every day over a 20-day work month and the cost to remove that dirt from the building can add up fast.

According to an ISSA study, the cost of removal can be upwards of $500 a pound.

As a result, becoming skillful in finding cost-efficient ways to maintain the floors is also becoming increasingly important.

It was not that long ago when the only methods to clean stone floors required crystallizing, diamond grinding, or applying coatings.

In fact, the commercial cleaning industry has come a long way since the introduction of the first synthetic, non-woven floor pad 50 years ago.

What was originally designed to replace the flat scrubbers and jelly rolls of the 1950s has led to the latest diamond pad technology, streamlining the cleaning and polishing processes of stone floors, while producing the results that customers are looking for.

Diamond gets the job done
As such, with the right tools, cleaning professionals can get the job done quicker by using diamond-coated floor pads.

These pads provide a more affordable, one-step solution to clean and polish stone floors without the use of acids or other coatings — an added benefit to any facility concerned with the environmentally preferable solutions.

Think about diamond floor pads as a high level maintenance system for stone flooring rather than a solution exclusive to restoration use.

As part of a regular maintenance routine, diamond floor pads can help address traffic lanes, dull floors, and tough black marks.

It is important to know that when used in this manner, diamond floor pads will help to slowly improve the appearance of dull stone floors.

Over time, the floors will be brought to a high shine without having to use a floor finish.

By eliminating floor finish, the costs associated with stripping, deep scrubbing, recoating and burnishing no longer exist.

However, the time it takes for the floor’s appearance to be brought back to a high shine will depend on the present condition of the floor.

For instance, floor damage, traffic and cleaning frequency are all factors that contribute to the length of the restoration process.

As a general rule, and based on the findings of a 2007-08 3M internal study, 12 to 24 applications of a diamond floor pad should bring about desired results.

Two-pad, one step
Diamond floor pads are even easier to use today, due to non-woven, microabrasive, state-of-the-art technology that only requires a two-pad, one-step system, helping to increase worker productivity and efficiency when cleaning marble, terrazzo, or polished concrete surfaces.

The two-pad systems are a viable solution to help save additional labor costs associated with burnishing floors after cleaning, and to help eliminate the need for floor finish and other floor coatings that require additional periodic maintenance.

With the two-pad systems, the first pad will condition the damaged stone floor and prepare the floor to be brought to a shine by the second pad.

When coupled with the use of an auto-scrubber, as opposed to a swing machine, even more time can be saved.

The savings accrued using this process can be significant.

According to the 2003 Official ISSA 447 Cleaning Times Calculator, it can cost up to 20 times more to restore a floor than to clean it, and up to 100 times more to strip a floor than to maintain it.

As with cleaning all types of stone flooring, begin by removing all dust and grit by dust mopping to prepare the surface before using the diamond pads.

By simply using an automatic floor scrubber, neutral pH cleaner, and the appropriate diamond floor pad, you can clean and polish your floors over time.

Typically, a floor that is in good to fair condition can be brought to a high level of shine after six to 12 applications.

For floors that are worn or dull, an additional six to 12 applications may be required to achieve a high level of shine.

Proper pad care
Always be sure to remove the pads and wash both sides with a spray hose or soft nylon brush under tap water after each use.

Adhering to a daily maintenance schedule is essential for both the upkeep of the floors and the upkeep of the diamond pads.

When selecting the right diamond floor pads for the job, it is important to note some general characteristics that differ from brand to brand.

Choosing the pads that are produced with the most consistency will not only benefit the end user, but ultimately help save on overall facility cost as well.

Beware of defects
A seemingly small defect in the thickness and roundness — .04 inches of variance in thickness and up to .08 inches in roundness — of floor pads an cause vibration, wobbling, and operator fatigue.

Diamond pads with the least amount of variance in these categories can yield better performance and utilization of labor, ultimately helping to produce better results for less.

Similarly, a small discrepancy (.06 inches) in the location of the diamond pad’s center hole can contribute to losses in gloss generation, as well as machine vibration and wobbling.

This may lead to a shorter pad life due to increased stress and an offset in torque, especially at high speeds.
Consistency in this area is most appreciated when buffing with a rotary floor machine.

With diamond floor pads making the lives of cleaning professionals easier, the means by which facility managers acquire the floor pads deserves some additional discussion.

When using diamond floor pads for the first time, work with a provider that can make on-site technical recommendations customized to individual stone floor maintenance needs.

In addition, look for a provider to offer product help guides as well as professional and knowledgeable customer service.

Knowing when to use diamond floor pads is only half the battle; knowing how to use them is crucial in order to get the most from their technology.


Ed Michels is a marketing development manager and Jim Harrison is an advanced technical service specialist of hard floor systems at 3M Building and Commercial Services Division. The 3M division has been credited for revolutionizing the floor maintenance industry by originating the first floor pad 50 years ago.