Wet weather underscores importance of matting

How to protect flooring assets through the seasons with year-round programs
Thursday, April 19, 2018
By John Engel

The bottoms of customers’ and employees’ shoes can spread wet mud, melting snow, gravel, salt and sand across a business’s floors. Any type of flooring, including tile, laminate, concrete, carpet and wood can be visibly soiled by these contaminants. Cleanliness, or lack thereof, can make a lasting impression on guests, as well as a business’s reputation and bottom line.

Freezing rain in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick this week served as a reminder of the important role mats can play in limiting the amount of dirt and moisture that makes its way into facilities.

Floor mats strategically placed at entrances provide guests with a place to wipe their shoes, thereby keeping contaminants off of floors, reducing the need to constantly clean and minimizing damage to valuable flooring assets. A year-round matting program can help keep melting snow, wet mud, gravel, salt and sand off the floors in commercial facilities and maintain a clean and welcoming image.

Seasonal contaminants

A surprising amount of debris is tracked from the outdoors into facilities throughout the year. In fact, the Institute of Industrial Laundries notes that 80 per cent of the dust, dirt and grime in public facilities is tracked in from the outside.

Spring and summer months can bring more frequent rain showers, and with that comes the increased opportunity for mud and water to be tracked onto floors. Mud tracks are one of the most visible types of dirt on surfaces and can quickly create a mess across floors, especially in facilities with high foot traffic.

To prevent mud tracks from projecting a poor image and creating time-consuming clean-up, let mats give customers a place to wipe their feet at facility entry points.

Fall and winter also provide challenges for facilities that want to keep floors in pristine condition. Leaves in the fall and snow, salt and sand in the winter should be of utmost concern to businesses. As snow is tracked inside and melts, stagnant pools of water can collect on floors, creating unsightly puddles. Repeated exposure to salt and sand can also damage floors, because they are abrasive like sand paper and wear away the floor finish. Floor damage increases maintenance and replacement costs for businesses while also disrupting daily operations.

Fortunately, mats can provide a barrier at the entrance of a facility so that outdoor elements are trapped before making their way across clean floors.

In addition to seasonal contaminants, businesses should also be mindful of contaminants that can be generated within their facility and spread across floors. For example, kitchens have grease and animal fats, while auto shops are frequently prone to oil and grease-covered floors. Mats strategically placed in areas where these messes can occur will help limit their spread throughout other areas of the facility.

Types of mats

Material and design are important considerations for mats and their ability to capture contaminants.

Scraper mats are ideal for outdoor areas because they remove moisture and debris from shoes with each step. Look for mats with alternating blades in directional height and width, and deep channels and drainage holes that help keep the captured dirt and moisture away from shoes. A mat’s weight will aid grip performance, helping the mat stay in place better.

Carpet logo mats can do double duty by promoting the business or a key message. Fibers in a carpet mat impact absorption — more absorbent material means less dirt and water reach floors. Similar to scraper mats, the rubber backing is important to provide weight and traction. Investing in heavier-weight mats in high-traffic areas can help reduce mat movement.

To withstand foot traffic and trap contaminants in a kitchen, look for durable, 100-per-cent rubber mats for these indoor spaces. Kitchen mats with antimicrobial additives provide additional protection against bacteria, mold and biofilms. Rubber mats with drainage holes are often used in kitchen areas; also look for mats that are slip- oil-, water- and grease-resistant.

Maintaining mats

Regularly laundering mats is essential to extending the life of floors. Without consistent cleaning, mats may fail to properly trap dirt or can develop unpleasant odours. When mats collect a high level of dirt, this can result in an “inkpad” effect. This means that visitors’ shoes actually spread the contaminants across a facility like stamps leaving inky marks across a piece of paper.

Many facility managers assume that vacuuming is the best way to maintain mats. Although this tactic helps remove a small amount of dirt, industrial laundering provides a deep cleaning to remove embedded dirt and other contaminants. When a service provider comes to collect dirty mats, they will replace them with clean mats at the same time so that floors are always protected.

Year-round coverage

Despite the rain, leaves and snow that fall outside, mats can keep the inside of a building looking its best when a year-round program is implemented. Facility managers should keep material and design in mind and look for matting that can withstand foot traffic, prevent unpleasant odours and provide optimal coverage around entrances. To ensure high levels of cleanliness, mats needs to be properly maintained and the program requires appropriate oversight.

John Engel is director of marketing for the Facility Services division of Cintas. Cintas Canada Ltd. is a leading provider of facility services, uniforms, first aid & safety, flame resistant clothing and compliance training.

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