The True Cost of Floor Pads
By John Miller
What is quality and how do you even begin to define it? It’s both real and a perception. According to Webster, “Quality is the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind.” It’s the degree of excellence of something. As it relates to floor pads, how do you define quality? What are the considerations? If you pay less for your floor pads, will you pay more in labor? That’s quite possible. Since labor amounts to over 90% of all cleaning costs, it’s critical that the cleaning materials you use do not negatively impact labor time.
Think of any cleaning application in terms of a three-legged stool. Each leg is comprised of mechanical action, chemical action, and abrasive action. All parts of this three-legged stool equation must be considered to provide optimum results, and each component is equally important to meet the cleaning challenge. If one leg of the stool is failing, then the entire stool falls down. The same is true in cleaning.
With that in mind, cleaning professionals must evaluate the floor pads they use for effectiveness, longevity, overall performance, and of course … cost. Floor pads should provide a balanced price vs. quality proposition. Their costs must be consistent with budget constraints, yet still provide enough of the quality required to complete the cleaning tasks effectively. High priced “premium brand” floor pads do not necessarily provide the best quality. Conversely, low price “budget brand” floor pads might be tempting, but could increase labor costs, if they are not as effective.
There is a misconception in the industry that thicker and heavier always equals a higher quality floor pad. In fact, some thin floor pads are outstanding performers. Many of the thin pads are capable of stripping without chemicals creating a win-win for the end user and the environment.
We interviewed Kevin Booth, Technical Services Manager for Americo Manufacturing, and asked him if budget brands performed the same as premium brands. He told us, “In my experience evaluating floor pad performance, budget brand pads do not perform as well as premium brand floor pads. Even if it’s a small, easy job, I’d still choose a quality brand, like Americo. Not only can I accomplish the job more effectively with a quality pad, I can rinse that pad and re-use it for the next job. For larger, more difficult applications, you should always choose a quality floor pad because of the overall labor and material cost savings. Not only will you use more of the budget brand pads, but you will also spend more in labor to get the job done.”
How Do You Measure Quality?
Booth disclosed, “Americo extensively tests and evaluates all floor pad products. This test data typically covers performance, durability, and longevity. The data provides a guideline of performance expectations to the end user. The data consists of both scientific lab testing as well as the test results when using the floor pads in real-life applications. Technically, when a pad has lost 50% of its original weight, it is considered time to replace it. That’s tough to measure in real life. What’s easier for the end user to evaluate is effectiveness. The end user can readily see if a pad is maintaining the same level of performance during use. Be aware that a floor pad will not perform the same as it did new out of the box throughout its life. We provide a range of pad life expectancy. Stripping pad life ranges between 25,000-50,000 square feet of use. The range takes into consideration variables that potentially impact a floor pad’s life, like use, floor type, chemicals, frequency of use, etc.”
The raw materials used in manufacturing a floor pad have a significant impact on the quality. Using quality raw materials improve the durability and performance of the pad. If the pads are made with inexpensive fillers, which add weight but don’t contribute to performance, the pad will not perform as well. The resin system used to bind the fibers can also impact performance.
Caring for Floor Pads after Use
One of the most important factors in floor pad longevity is its care. Floor pads should be thoroughly cleaned after every use. Pads should be sprayed using a garden hose and hung to dry. It’s not recommended to allow the soils to dry on the pad. A best practice is to store the soiled pads in a plastic trash bag to keep them moist until cleaning can be performed. Do not soak pads in cleaning or stripping solutions as they can affect the binder integrity over time. Proper care will dramatically extend a floor pad’s life.
Innovations in Floor Care
One of the most significant changes in the industry is the shift away from traditional floorings like VCT or Terrazzo to non-traditional commercially used floor types like LVT (luxury vinyl tile), synthetic rubber, concrete, natural stone, ceramic, and others. Each of these flooring types require different care. Traditional floor pads may not be effective. Many floor care innovations have evolved to effectively clean these floors. Two examples are diamond care pads for natural stone and concrete, and melamine pads for LVT, rubber, and ceramic floors.
The trend toward environmentally friendly floor pads in the Jan/San industry is on the rise as more and more corporations and universities realize that sustainability is not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for business. Using recycled materials and additives to enhance bio-degradation are some of the things progressive companies, like Americo, are doing to protect the environment. Many millennials, who are ascending to management positions, care deeply about sustainability and seek to lessen our footprint on the earth. They will lead the sustainability charge.
In facility cleaning and maintenance, the true cost of floor pads is a combination of the products used and the labor expended to clean a floor. The cost of labor outweighs the cost of products used to clean. Maintenance professionals know labor accounts for more than 90% of the cost to clean a floor. It’s important that the floor pads you use do not negatively impact labor time. Quality is not related to weight or thickness, but instead is measured by durability and effective life span. Proper care of floor pads will extend their effective life span. New floor types, like LVT, are driving a change in floor pads used to clean floors. Sustainability is growing in importance as a purchase consideration and progressive companies are leading the movement with environmentally friendly products. Quality floor pads can reduce labor costs and are a wise investment.
About the Author:
John Miller, EVP Sales, Americo Manufacturing Co.
With over 40 years of experience in the cleaning industry, John Miller has served in many growth oriented positions including sales, sales training and senior sales management. During his career John has worked with well-known companies such as 3M and JohnsonDiversey. With such a diverse work history, John has extensive experience in lead generation, business development and in sales and marketing management.
Today, John is the Executive Vice President for Sales and Marketing for Americo Manufacturing Company. Through his leadership and vision, John has propelled Americo to become one of the top manufacturers in the Jan/San industry with the most complete range of floor pads on the market world-wide. John is committed to environmental advocacy and was instrumental in all of the Americo Green initiatives including the introduction of Americo’s Full Cycle™ floor pads.