By Spencer Luallen, Technical Maintenance Specialist, Roppe Holding Company
Safe guarding investments and assets is always a good idea, right? Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide wouldn’t take Offensive Linemen off the field to get another Wide Receiver on the field, would they? No, because protecting the 5-star Quarterback recruit that could lead them to a National Championship is important. He is too valuable of an asset. So if caring for investments is important, why is the Offensive Line of flooring ignored so often? That Offensive Line is flooring protection. Whether it is Masonite, Ram Board, or the paper you picked up at the local hardware store, flooring protection is key to caring for your investment.
As a technical representative for a resilient manufacturer, I am asked to make jobsite visits all around the country to evaluate floor covering that has been installed in various types of facilities. They range from new construction to floors that have been down for a few years, with everything in between. Being the maintenance specialist of our team at Roppe Holding Company, I make jobsite visits where I am asked to help fix a mistake that someone has made, investigate if the product has a defect, or to teach people how to clean their floors in a more efficient fashion. In most cases, the problem is usually ignorance of basic cleaning principles or apathy for maintenance by the janitorial staff. However, there are special cases that aren’t from lack of effort or knowledge. These usually occur in new construction or renovation sites where the flooring protection is either non-existent or is removed prior to completion of construction. The designer could’ve picked out the most beautiful product in a perfect design and the installer could’ve installed that product flawlessly, but if the floor isn’t protected post-install, you’re setting yourself up for failure prior to the end user ever laying eyes on it.
Multiple times prior to being on site, I have been made aware of our products, whether it is rubber or vinyl, that have been heavily scratched due to furniture being built or dragged on the floor, or other large equipment, such as ladders or pallet jacks, that have scratched up the floor. Now in some cases, like a Solid Vinyl Tile or a Homogenous Rubber Tile/Sheet, these scratches can be fixed or at least remedied to the point of where the appearance is acceptable. However, with most other resilient floor coverings, these scratches cannot be fixed due to the nature of heterogeneous products. For example, a Luxury Vinyl Tile has a urethane top coating that can be scratched easily when a piece of furniture is dragged across the floor. Usually, when the floor is scratched beyond repair, the conversation goes from hopeful to the frustrating realization that they caused the problem themselves.
Other times, the complaint isn’t scratching, but instead the poor overall appearance of the floor. This is usually due to all the dust that is moving throughout the building. Upon confirmation that it is, in fact, soiled and not a discoloration of the floor, the General Contractor acts shocked to learn dust causes the floor to look dirty. I always try my best not to laugh at their surprise.
As a General Contractor, educate your personnel about the possible consequences of skipping the important step of flooring protection when closing out a jobsite. General Contractors have a lot to worry about on new construction and renovation sites, and will usually rely on manufacturer’s recommendations and the recommendations of the installers. However, flooring protection seems to slip through the cracks. Am I saying that if you put down proper floor protection, your floors will look perfect before you do the initial maintenance? No, there is a chance that, despite the protection, the floor could get damaged. But, from a manufacturer’s stand point, we see far too often that people are defeating themselves prior to starting the game. 99.9% of the time when I get called to a new construction site, the problems could be fixed by floor protection. Without flooring protection, GC’s are taking a risk, assuming that anyone working it that space – moving furniture, finishing wiring, or putting final touches on paint – will not cause any damage to the flooring material.