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HOW TO

CLEAN YOUR TIMBER FLOOR

STM Studio Supplies by Professionals for Professionals

Unit 1, 329 High Street Chatswood NSW 2067 T: 02 9417 3000 F: 02 9417 3111 E: sales@stmstudiosupplies.com

“The soul of a dance studio is the floor”

We appreciate that your dance floor is a significant investment and recommend a regular maintenance schedule. One of the primary reasons people invest in flooring is to provide a safe dance environment. An improperly maintained floor can negate that good intention. An uncared-for floor sends a bad message when we are trying to instil discipline in the hearts and minds of our students. A clean floor, compatible with what you want to do, presents the right image and also makes for better performance and in turn happier instructors, students, customers, and artists.

 

The regular cleaning of your dance floor is not only important to the overall life of the floor but to the well-being and professional image of the studio as an entity. A good maintenance program avoids the build-up and transmission of bacteria, fungi and mildew, which may result in respiratory and other health, issues.

All floors get dirty. “Dirty floors become slippery”, says American Harlequin Marketing Manager, Claire Londress, who advises mopping with a neutral pH cleaner every week, and then going over the area again with water to pick up any residue. Dust, dirt, sweat, shoe marks, food, drinks, and even chewing gum are the prime offenders. The more the floor is used, the more it needs to be cleaned. Both vinyl and timber floors need proper upkeep or can create problems. Before trying any new cleaning products or techniques, check with your manufacturer. And above all: “When you’re cleaning, make sure the area is well ventilated for your own safety,” says Londress. “I know it’s common sense, but I can’t say it enough! ”

As a minimum program, your dance floor should be swept and dry mopped at least 3 times a week

What’s Good for Wood

 

“Dirt acts like sandpaper on a wood floor,” says Ed O’Mara, president of O’Mara Sprung Floors. “The dirtier the floor, the quicker the finish wears off.” He recommends sweeping wood floors with a wide dust broom on a daily basis. For more advanced cleaning, O’Mara suggests mixing a cleanser like I .F .T (Intensive Floor Treatment) with water in a spray bottle, spraying a section, mopping it with a damp dust mop, and then drying the area with a broom that has been wrapped in a terry-cloth towel. “Keep flipping the towel over and pushing it over the floor until it comes up clean,” he says, then air dry. Certain cleansers can harm wood floors.

“The bottom line for a wood floor is that you don’t want to use anything with ammonia or abrasives because it can ruin the finish,” says Franklin. Spot cleaning is essential to keeping your wood floor in shape. As with vinyl, most marks can be scrubbed away by hand with a standard cleanser. But, O’Mara says, you can also get many rubber-based spots off simply by rubbing them with a tennis ball.

Randy Swartz from Dance Affiliates comments: ”There are four things that make your floor dirty. They are foreign organic materials such as dust and dirt, body oil from perspiration, scuff and dry marks from shoes, and aluminium compound residue from tap shoes. Water by itself may remove the dirt but will only spread the oil throughout the floor, which is not good.” Swartz says studio owners must be particularly diligent about getting rosin off their floors. “Wood is a porous substance and rosin is essentially pine tar,” he says. “Over time, rosin migrates into the wood and hardens, making it slippery.”

STM Studio Supplies carries dance floor specific cleaners including the Rosco AllPurpose Cleaner, Versadet and the Stagestep Pro Clean X. The regularity of their use is up to you and a function of how much traffic your floor is getting. An ideal regime would be daily sweeping, dry mop, then water and detergent, with a rinse weekly. If this is not the case and over time an accumulation of scuff and dye marks may be simply too unsightly, then you may use a stripper and red pad on an orbital floor polisher. This, however, will leave your floor dull and if you prefer a slight sheen, then it will be necessary to refinish it. You may, if you wish, at this time re-colour it using Slip Nomor Color. This innovative floor finish allows you to renew the floor and maintain the same non-slip and other performance attributes required for your specific activities. Be very wary about the stripping process, as it may not suit your particular vinyl. An attempt at stripping a Rosco Adagio floor recently in Australia left it like an ice rink!

Do not use any cleaner with ammonia in its formula as the ammonia will alter the vinyl making the surface of your floor slippery. Sometimes more care is needed. “If it’s humid, the dancers’ perspiration evaporates into the air, warming up the room,” says Randy Swartz. “When the air cools, it can’t hold the moisture. This accumulates on the surface of the floor. If it’s where dust has collected, it creates microscopic mud and results in a slippery surface.” Swartz recommends that studio floors be dry- mopped before class, then a dehumidifier used overnight

UV radiation, sunlight, accelerates the aging process of the floor and once that has happened there is no reclaiming the floor. You should protect your floor from harmful UV rays found in direct sunlight and high variations in heat and humidity. All roll-out dance floors are made from a variety of elements of which Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is the main ingredient. Along with colour, binder, foam and occasionally fibreglass there are always plasticizers. The most widely used being phthalates. These plasticizers allow the floor to be flexible but also evaporate creating the smell of new vinyl -the familiar “new car” smell. UV radiation accelerates this process releasing the plasticizers into the atmosphere and resulting in the floor shrinking and getting brittle. At the time of writing, there is no product that can be applied to flooring that will prevent UV damage although there are products in development.

Heavy drapes with a solar backing are a great solution as they equally act as a sound absorber enhancing the acoustics of the room. They do however block out the daylight and possibly a beautiful view. Some specialty glasses can block out up to 90% of UV rays and there are a number of films that can be applied by specialist companies that can be retrofitted to block out the UV component of sunlight whilst maintaining reason level of natural light. There are also a number of sheer curtain and blind alternatives that can do this as well whilst adding an element of privacy.

Dust and dirt act like sandpaper and should be removed as soon as possible. It is important to minimize the amount of dirt that makes its way into the studio. The use of entrance or threshold mats when you come into the building and again when you enter the by Professionals for Professionals HOW TO CLEAN YOUR TIMBER FLOOR >> Page 3of 5 studio can collect up to 80% of dirt. Whether they be scraps of old carpet or proprietary systems built into the floor, remember they need regular cleaning too, with a shake and beating at least monthly.

Use an anti-static dust mop to collect dust and dirt. If a vacuum cleaner is used, make sure that the head has brushes rather than exposed metal, as this is likely to scratch the floor.

Air conditioning and heater filters should be checked and cleaned regularly otherwise you could be recycling dust and dirt. Ensure that street shoes are removed outside of the studio.

Eating, drinking or smoking should not be allowed in the studio, with the exception of water, but still be vigilant about mopping spills immediately.

Sharp objects such as high heels, sharp edged items, scenery, chairs, tables or other equipment should not be allowed onto the floors as these items may gouge, rip or damage the floor.

Painting items should be avoided while resting on your floor, consider moving the item off the floor or lay drop cloths or sheet plastic around and under the item so as to protect the floor. Any substance spilled or dropped on the floor should be removed immediately

Threshold mats at all entrances will lessen the chance of any stones or dirt being brought onto the floor, creating a sand paper effect.

Felt pads under all furniture legs, especially chairs will help prevent scratching and should be changed frequently.

How to clean your dance floor

1. Sweep - Broom choice is important, as a rule a soft bristle push broom does a better job than scissor type dust mop sweepers. Get a broom that is a least 600mm (24”) wide and avoid stiff natural bristles or straw brooms, which can scratch the surface. After a daily sweep and/or dry mopping, a weekly routine of cleaning dance floors is a straightforward matter of sweeping with a soft broom then washing.

2. Wash - A tried, true and very cost effective way of washing your dance surface is to combine a cup of white vinegar in a bucket of warm to almost hot water plus mop and elbow grease. In all instances, your floor is not clean until your rinse water is! Change your water regularly so that you are not simply spreading the dirt around but are actually removing it. Avoid flooding the floor as the moisture can get into the sub-floor and cause swelling

Do spend the money on commercial grade buckets and mops and replace your mop heads every six months depending on use and wear.

The two-bucket Figure 8 Technique is recommended, but go easy on the vinegar! The two bucket technique is more effective and efficient if you use a mop.

One bucket containing the warm water & detergent/degreaser

Two buckets containing plain warm water.

Technique: Put the mop in the detergent bucket, wring out as you never want to put excess water on any floor surface, and mop your floor. Rinse out the mop in the second bucket then repeat. (Nalin from Masterfloorcare doesn’t care for vinegar at all but recommends daily washing with plain warm H2O.)

Use your mop in a figure 8 pattern with your dominant hand on the top and your other hand in the middle of the handle. In fact, this is a great core exercise in the grand tradition of the Karate Kid’s “wax on wax off”. If you can’t convince yourself and your own abs of that perhaps one of your students needs the extra work out! (Excellent incentive for those constantly late to class!)

 

Rinse until the water is relatively clear, even detergents can create a dirt-attracting residue so the rinse process is very important. Cleaning the mop head under a tap before you start rinsing the floor is a good idea and shortens this process

Make quite sure that the floor is thoroughly dry before use.

Scuff and sole marks from shoes are the main cleaning difficulties in dance studios along with marking from the shoe dyes and, of course, rosin marks. These may have to be addressed specifically. The worst problem is dye marks where sweat has caused the dye to leach out of shoes. These should be addressed as soon as possible as the longer they stay the harder they are to get out.

Spot cleaning is another issue. Most of the above detergents can be used as spot cleaners in concentrated form. There are also a number of products designed to attack spot problems. These are often solvents, usually made from a citrus base. They will cause damage if left on your floor and they will definitely degrade finishes. When using these and any of the following spot products, make sure you immediately wipe up the solvent, then flush the area with water and dry.

It is advisable to wear rubber gloves when using detergents as a concentrate, they are powerful and may cause skin irritation.

 

The next cheapest alternatives to this are mineral turpentine or methylated spirits. Used with care, methylated spirits and mineral turpentine are readily available and effective but can also affect the finish or “seal “ of the floor and ultimately dissolve the vinyl.

Avoid xylene, acetone, alcohol and lacquer thinners, as they are too aggressive for the same reason.

Avoid any abrasive cleaners such as “Jiff”, scouring powders and pads that will break the surface and create tiny, dirt-attracting scratches and subsequently result in the need for more cleaning.

Rinsing of the affected area after cleaning is paramount

Disintegrating aluminium taps that produce the grey/black marks are another type of challenge for dance floor owners. Apart from the marks, loose and worn plates are a danger in themselves. Aluminium compound taps break down leaving a residue of Aluminium Oxide, an abrasive used in sandpaper which ends up sticking to the vinyl. One way to get rid of this is to use artificial chamois cloths and dry mop your floor with the cloth. The shards of aluminium will stick directly to the chamois. Wash them out and reuse the cloth. The second method is to wet down the floor and use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to lift up the residue.

Stagestep Tap Armor and Tap Shield are worth investigating as products developed specifically for this problem.

Wax finishes obviously must be avoided or they will cause the floor to become slippery. In recent years, polish manufacturers have introduced "slip-resistant" waxes: before using these, please satisfy yourself that they are slip-resistant. This is a decision that only you can make.

Small cleaning often and consistently is the best program. Be sure however you follow instructions as to the number of applications, the technique of application, drying time and other requirements. The cleaner you keep your floor, the longer it will last, the better it will look, and the safer it will be. Ensure that you check floors for wear and tear regularly. A buff and an additional coat when you see signs of wear through will preserve your floor and maintain the slip resistance without too much fuss.

We are happy to answer any specific questions about cleaning or maintenance and any other dance floor related matter- just pick up the phone and call us. Warm regards and happy dancing!

The above advice can only be considered as a recommendation without obligation. On account of the wide variety of conditions in practice, this information is not binding and does not warrant a contractual legal relationship or accessory obligation.

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