Over the years a number of developments have resulted in savings in stone floor maintenance. ERROL GOLDBERG, managing director of Pall Mall Manufacturing, shares these money-saving advancements.
For many years, the accepted method of maintaining stone floors was to seal them with a sacrificial polish. This surface polish material would take considerable maintenance labour and would need constant replacing. The replacement would involve, at best, cutting back with an aggressive floor pad and then applying replacement polish. Unfortunately, too often, it involved stripping and resealing, which always proved to be an extremely costly procedure.
CUTTING THE COST
Five years ago, a new concept was introduced. This involved the use of floor pads that were surface coated on one side with a diamond dust paste. The procedure required what amounted to a mild surface grinding with three pads of different degrees of aggression used one after the other.
Using regular speed standard scrubbing equipment, such as an autoscrubber, a white pad would be used, scrubbing with water. After six passes with this white (aggressive) pad, the resulting slurry would be picked up. Then, the white pad would be replaced with a yellow (less aggressive) pad and the process repeated. Finally, the least aggressive pad, the green pad, would repeat the same process.
After the final slurry had been picked up and the floor rinsed and dried, a dry green pad would be used to burnish the floor. If used with an UHS machine, the gloss would be enhanced. Thereafter, maintenance only would be required and the procedure would be a repeat of using the dry green pad.
The benefit of such a system is that once the initial preparation is completed there is no further use for the three-pad process. Only burnishing with a green pad is required. So, the need to back or strip and seal disappears and the cost of maintenance dives dramatically.
FURTHER COST CUTS
Since then there have been further advances in the process. The extreme cost of diamond dust worked against using these pads, as it made them extremely expensive. However, pads that use ceramics (similar to the material used in car brake discs) instead of diamond dust are now available. In addition, the manufacturing process allows the ceramics to penetrate into the pad rather than only remaining on the surface. This means that the pad is more effective for longer and does not run out of effectiveness as soon as the surface coating is worn away.
Ceramics is considerably less expensive than diamonds, but it is just as effective. The six-pass concept and the three pad grades have been retained. So, while the procedure essentially remains the same, it is less expensive.
GLOSS ENHANCERS AVAILABLE
If there was a negative in the process, compared to the use of polish, it was the initial gloss level. The gloss attained with the new processes is about 85 percent to 90 percent of that using polish. If better gloss is required, there are now additives that can achieve this. Fluorocarbons, as used in carpet stain prevention, can be sprayed onto the stone surface and replaced as it is walked off. Another solution is the use of fluoridated resins incorporating nano-particles, which penetrate the stone to offset minute surface imperfections in the stone. They make a great difference to gloss levels. In the latter case, the chemical, which is heavily diluted, is incorporated into scrub water, the floor is scrubbed, thereby depositing the gloss enhancer, and then dry burnishing follows.