Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

With Hard Floor Maintenance, Don't Overlook Effective Matting

September 19, 2010

When it comes to an effective floor care program, it''s surprising how many building service contractors (BSCs) overlook the importance of proper floor matting.

"The use of eco-friendly materials in today''s floor mats is different than in the past," says Robb Andersen, president of The Andersen Company.

Mats of the past consisted of face fabric fibers — such as polypropylene and olefin — and vinyl backings.

While these materials are still available and used in mats today, many manufacturers are producing mats that contain recycled content with fabric faces of 100 percent polyethylene terephthalate (PET) — or polyester — reclaimed from plastic drink bottles and rubber backings from recycled tires.

"The benefits are that we can produce products that are environmentally-friendly, sustainable and simply a more responsible choice to protect the environment," notes Andersen. "We now manufacture mats that contain recycled content not only in our entrance mats but also in our outdoor mats, anti-fatigue mats, safety mats and kitchen mats — even our logo mats."

Many manufacturers are also promoting recycling programs that allow customers to return to their old, worn out, rubber-backed mats to the manufacturer.

The manufacturer, in turn, certifies that these mats won''t go to a landfill and will be recycled for use in new mats, other products or bio-fuel.

"This is just one more example of our commitment to the environment and our customers," declares Andersen.

Select The Proper Length

When selecting floor matting, a common mistake is choosing the incorrect length.

"Length is an important consideration," states Mark Hawes, co-owner of Maine Paper and Janitorial Products. "Many facilities we visit are ''under matted,'' meaning there simply is not enough matting in place to effectively capture soil and water. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recommends a minimum of 8-12 feet of matting before a person walks onto a floor surface. In the Northeast, we recommend facilities use a minimum of 20 feet to effectively capture 85-90 percent of the soil and moisture entering the building."

"Several of our manufactures are now recommending three-mat systems: High-performance matting systems that include a scraper mat for use outdoors and a scraper/wiper mat for use indoors followed by a wiper/finishing mat," adds Greg Burby, co-owner of Maine Paper and Janitorial Products.

Mats can be color coordinated to match a facility''s décor and produced using recycled content making them ''green.''

Three-mat systems are very effective for use with any floor care program.

Construction Is An Important Consideration

According to Keith Hayes, sales representative for Jan Pak Inc., a mat that features a permanent, bi-level surface will hold and store more soil and moisture than a traditional nylon or ribbed olefin mat.

This helps prevent soil and moisture from being tracked into the building and helps reduce slips and falls by providing a clean, safe floor.

"Use of a bi-level entrance mat will not only benefit facilities by saving them labor and materials in extending stripping and recoating cycles, but will also keep their floor clean and shiny longer, which is important in any floor care program," notes Hayes.

Best Cleaning Methods

"''What''s the best way to clean mats?'' That''s a question I hear a lot during seminars and in-services," says Larry Fagan of Fagan Sanitary Supply. "When I hear that statement, I know the mats are working well. I typically chuckle and respond to them with the comment, ''I can''t apologize for that, as that is what a mat is designed to do.''"

According to Fagan, high-performance mats do require a little extra effort when cleaning, but the extra effort put forth

will more than make up in labor and material savings compared to stripping and recoating a floor surface more frequently due to improper, ineffective and non-functioning mats.

Mats can be cleaned several ways. The first method is to vacuum daily.

Fagan recommends customers vacuum mats in high-traffic areas more than once a day.

Doing so prevents soil from building up inside the mat, making removal at the end of the day easier and less time-consuming.

Another method is to utilize carpet extractors, which will remove accumulated soil, mud and moisture from mats — especially on sloppy winter days.

Finally, a pressure washer is a great machine to use when it comes time to rejuvenate your mats.

Fagan recommends this step in the spring to remove salt, sand and soil that has accumulated during the winter months.

"Regardless of which method you choose, it''s important to choose the right equipment for the job, and for that equipment to be in good operating order," concludes Fagan.

Cost Considerations

When choosing floor care products and equipment, cost is always an important consideration — floor mats are no different.

Facilities must take into consideration not only the initial costs of the mat, but also their return on investment (ROI).

For example, a facility can purchase high-performance floor mats that will save them labor and material by helping extend their cleaning, recoating and stripping cycles.

Or, they can purchase floor mats that will initially cost less but require more labor and material, thereby costing more over time due to poor construction and ineffectiveness.

Remember, when choosing floor matting, the business colloquialism "pay me now or pay me later" applies.

Mike Sharlow is region manager for The Andersen Company, manufacturer of high-performance matting. Their newest product, Waterhog Eco and Enviro Plus, features a 100 percent recycled PET polyester carpet top reclaimed from plastic drink bottles and a rubber backing with up to 89 percent recycled rubber reclaimed from used tires. Sharlow is a CIMS-certified ICE with 25 years of experience in the cleaning industry — 12 years as a BSC — and can be reached at