I have had a lot of questions regarding gym floors lately. The main problem is that the floors are slippery. These floors are expected to serve many roles in schools and recreation centers. Between P.E. Classes, open gym, assemblies, sports practice and games, there always seems to be some sort of activity going on in the gymnasium. Since a lot of these floors are wood, there is a tendency to avoid cleaning them, because water damages wood right? The short answer is “Yes” water will cause a wide variety of problems if not used properly, but with a little knowledge of what is really going on and using the proper procedures, the floor can be easily maintained.
Floors become slippery because they are dirty. Dust and dirt between shoes and the finish, break friction and act like tiny marbles. Gym floor finishes are designed to provide a smooth surface and high amount of friction between the floor and athletic shoes. Most finishes are tested and classified by the Underwriters Laboratories for slip resistance, but the problem is after the coating has been applied. There are a few rare occasions that if a finish is not applied correctly in the proper environment that the properties of the finish can cause slipperiness. Again, these instances’ are rare.
Dust Mopping Gym Floors
The best solution for this is dust mopping. Although most facilities use dust mop, they are cotton and use a treatment that is oil based. Traditional dust mop treatments are derived from banana, coconut or sassafras oil and even when properly applied; leave a thin film of this sticky substance behind to collect more dust and dirt. This is addressed by dust mopping the floor which adds another layer of oily residue.
This can be easily corrected by using microfiber dust mops. A microfiber dust mop that uses a solid frame will allow dirt to be collected evenly and trap dirt much longer than a wire frame mop. Microfiber mops can also be used damp to help remove sweet and body oils that build up on the floor. When using wet, it is best to have a couple of microfiber dust mop heads available to change out because they will get dirty very fast. In some cases, the build-up residue and soils will require a chemical to assist in removal. For this, use a no-film neutral cleaner in the lowest effective dilution possible, usually 1 oz or less per gallon. Water based tacking cleaner, that is alcohol based, can also be used.
Automatic Scrubbers For Gym Floors
Another option is to use an automatic scrubber. There are many different configuration and styles of scrubbers on the market but the main reason that they are effective is that they apply the cleaning solution, scrub the surface and then remove the dirty water. Consider several things before using this option. What is the condition of your floor? If it is damaged, if there is exposed wood or if there are major gaps between the boards, consult a wood floor professional before cleaning with an automatic scrubber. Use the lowest effective amount of water and a white, soft pad. Always dust mop prior to scrubbing any floor but especially wood. Large debris can get caught the pad or squeegee and cause swirl marks and scratches in the finish that will require sanding to remove.
Matting Makes A Big Difference
Making sure to have proper matting at gym entrances will also assist in keeping a floor clean. Matting will collect and hold several times is own weight is dirt and is much easier to clean than the entire gym floor.
Keeping your gym floor clean will reduce the frequency of re-coating, provide a safe surface for athletes and stay looking great throughout the sports season.