Schools, hospitals, and many businesses install Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT) floors because of the low initial cost and the look of the bright tile. What the decision-makers do not always account for is the life cycle cost of keeping it clean and glossy looking. This creates several maintenance scenarios that have been occurring for decades:
Retail/Office Floors: Unless the owner pays and trains its employees to strip and wax the floor, a janitorial services firm is paid to provide this service on a regular interval. During the time between intervals the floors continually degrade. By the time the next service interval occurs the floors are typically not attractive for several days or weeks. Stripping and waxing also requires expensive equipment and chemicals that are not environmentally safe, and the work is highly undesirable causing high maintenance employee turnover.
Schools: Full time janitors regularly clean and burnish the wax coating, and strip and re-wax high-traffic areas regularly throughout the school year. In the summer, all the desks must be removed from the classrooms and the wax is stripped off. In most states, the stripping chemical must be disposed of properly, without pouring it into drains or toilets due to the danger of the chemicals impacting our water systems. After the floors are stripped, five coats of new wax are applied. High speed floor burnishers are used regularly throughout the school year to buff out the shoe scuff marks. “Cleaner Wax” can be used, which only removes the top layer of wax, and fresh topcoats of wax can be applied periodically throughout the school year.
Hospitals: Most hospitals continually strip and wax vinyl floors throughout the year, and it is a non-stop maintenance cycle. They also use the Cleaner Wax products to minimize the need to fully remove the old wax, but it still needs to occur regularly. The spills of blood and betadine stain the wax, and the stains cannot be removed without total stripping and re-waxing.
For many customers, expensive maintenance is not usually something they realized would be required when they chose to install VCT. Schools, for instance, spend a fortune on electricity, labor, and chemicals which is, on average, $.40 to $1.10 per square foot of tile annually. The median elementary school was designed for 624 students and encompasses 84,700 square feet1. If you consider that at least 75%, but possibly much higher, of the space is coated in VCT, that would total $25,410 – $69,877 in floor maintenance costs per year.
These facilities have large floors, and to clean them, high production equipment is needed, such as autoscrubbers, Kaivac machines, floor maintainers, and burnishers. Despite the regular expenditures on equipment, the floor wax products scuff and scratch easily and begin to show wear quickly, especially in sandy or snowy climates where the shoes of customers track in abrasives and contaminants. They can be reburnished, but once again, more maintenance and cost is incurred.
The latest trend is using Laminate/Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT), which has a factory-applied coating that resists water and most staining. The cost is three to four times higher than VCT, however, the ROI is typically three years from the initial investment. LVT allows for the look of natural wood or stone, which is pressed into a PVC layer during manufacturing. This an improvement, but over time, the coating will start to show wear and the LVT will lose its glossy appearance and look worn out. After it shows wear, the only way to repair the floor is to remove and replace it.
Customers are unhappy with the cost of maintaining VCT floors and many simply give up! When this happens, the floors become breeding grounds for bacteria and germs living underneath and in them. The VCT will also absorb stains in the tiny pores, giving them a permanently dirty appearance. According to psychologists, customer preference is largely driven by visual perception. Therefore, customers will prefer a clean business over a dirty one. The floors are one of the first things a customer sees when he or she walks into your business, and the impression will drive a customer’s preference to visit again. The floors in the bathrooms and checkout areas are very important too. Cleanliness is a critical visual sense to every customer that walks in the door. Once they have a bad experience or perception, they will not want to return unless they have no choice. Cleanliness is a universal decision factor for every culture in the world.
There is a better way available, and it was invented by Coval Group (Coval). They manufacture a coating that can encapsulate existing VCT/LVT floors with or without wax applied to them. The floor is cleaned thoroughly, and once the coating is installed, stripping and waxing is never required again for the life of the floor. It can also be installed on the cove base molding to make it glossy and stain resistant. The coating lasts indefinitely, and if it shows any wear, it can be recoated without any special surface preparation other than mopping off the dust.
Competitors have tried marketing two component urethanes, and even some field-applied UV-cured vinyl coatings, but they are cost prohibitive and difficult to install. The Covals Vinyl Floor Coating is as hard as quartz, completely clear and is resistant to every stain that occurs in a restaurant, business, school, or medical environment. Dry mopping or hot water mopping is the only maintenance needed, and chemicals, equipment, and labor costs are eliminated. On average, the Coval Vinyl Coat product costs less than half a year of floor maintenance and will last five years or more before any further maintenance is needed. It is easy to install, dries in four hours and the floor is ready for foot traffic the next day.
There will be no degradation in appearance between maintenance intervals because the floors will remain glossy, scuff free, stain resistant, and easy to maintain for years or until the business or institution desires a new look to its floors.