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STM VINYL FLOOR CARE
YOUR DANCE FLOOR
STM Studio Supplies by Professionals for Professionals
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. Whilst this article is primarily directed towards dance floor vinyl, the same general principles apply to timber and Juju finished floors. 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.
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. Vinegar, ammonia, bleach, acetone, alcohol, and coke will accelerate the breakdown of the chemical makeup of the floor. These products will dissolve the floor over time reducing the useful life by many years. Some cleaners contain oil and will probably make your floor more slippery. This goes for all vinyl floors."
"The first product you need is a detergent degreaser. These are products not generally found on your supermarket shelf. Scuff and dye marks may require a little elbow grease or a floor scrubbing machine with a green or red pad and a heavier application of the degreaser. Also, there are a few safe solvents to use, especially on the dye marks. Wipeout plus from Stagestep is one of them. Dry mopping and vacuuming can help and if you use an artificial chamois cloth on the bottom of the mop, you can pick up the tap residue. Products offered by flooring manufactures have normally been properly tested and usually will do a good job. Your floor is a big investment. Taking proper care of it will extend its life and make for an excellent environment for you and your dancers."
STM Studio Supplies carry dance floor specific cleaners including Sadie Suds, Dirty Di, Rosco All Purpose Cleaner, and 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 than a damp mop. A more thorough cleaning weekly with water and detergent, then a rinse is recommended.
Over time, an accumulation of scuff and dye marks may accumulate and become too unsightly. If this is the case, 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 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 as fast as an ice rink!
Do not use any cleaner with ammonia in its formula as the ammonia will damage 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 such as mineral oil. 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 becoming brittle. At
the time of writing, there is no product that can be applied to flooring that
will prevent or reverse UV damage although there are products in development.
Heavy drapes with 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.
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 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.
Street shoes Please please never allow street or school shoes on the dance floor.
Dance floor vinyl doesn’t have the protective or, PUR surface of conventional vinyl.
Street shoes with their roughened soles are like sandpaper to this surface, stockings,
bare feet and of course the various dance shoes are fine.
Pianos If possible move the piano if it is on the floor a 100mm or so every 3-4 hours so it doesn’t
leave permanent dents
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.
Felt pads under all furniture legs, especially chairs will help prevent scratching and should be changed
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.
Before you do anything, sweep the floor
Broom choice is important, 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 as these will scratch the surface.
Sweep daily and follow up with a damp mop, using a designated bucket & mop.
Mop choice is also important, do spend the money on commercial grade buckets and mops and replace your mop heads every six months depending on use and wear.
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 will 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...
With all good intentions, your vinyl will build up a patina with wear and age despite a rigorous cleaning regime. As a working tool, your floor reflects the hard work you put into it and some marks will remain as battle scars which only add to the character of your studio!
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.
Tea tree and eucalyptus oil have been used successfully on some marks and interestingly we have had great success with tennis balls! Either in your hand or on the end of a broom handles, these act as a large eraser and are surprisingly effective, particularly on white marks left by some sneakers.
Dirty Di is a high alkaline product that we recommend for this purpose. Ideally, you should follow with a neutralizing wash with Sadie Suds and a rinse with clean water.
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. These must be rinsed completely and quickly after use.
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.
Stages & touring applications the floor should be swept and mopped every day. Derek Effew, via Control Booth online forum, recommends cleaning a performance stage after sweeping, starting downstage and working upstage, and always from the same side of the stage to the other. In the absence of a mop, Derek recommends using a bath-sized towel and wringing it out well. Wrap the towel around a 600mm (24") broom to "damp mop" the area. Rearrange the towel to present a clean side to the floor as necessary. If wet mopping with an actual mop, use the figure-8 motion the width of a panel, from one side of the stage to the other.
Small bouts of cleaning, often and consistently, is the best programme to follow. Be sure 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. 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!