THE OUTSIDE INVASION
The dirt and grime that gets on your floor comes from outside your facility. Stopping the dirt, grime, foreign materials, and wetness before it lands on your floor can save you a ton of time and money in maintenance costs. The best way to deal with this outside invasion is to have indoor entrance mats both at your exit/entrance and at the doorway into the studio. These are pretty high tech items in that they scrape, remove dirt, and dry the shoe bottom just by walking on it. They come in all kinds of configurations and sizes. They can be installed as portable systems or installed recessed permanently. What they do is eliminate about 80% of the outside particulate matter that gets on your floor.
Seems obvious, but many of us attribute the bad things that happen to floors, to the floors themselves. It is true that softer surfaces can be damaged more quickly and more extensively than harder surfaces. Certain colors and patterns can either show or hide scuff marks. And, there are floor surfaces and finishes that resist staining better than others. But in the end, stuff happens to floor surfaces and to address whatever problem you are facing you have to know why. When you know the “Why” your next choice is either prevention, maintenance or both.
The number one cause of floor surface problems is environmental. Issues regarding quality of the air, temperature, humidity, and static electricity are usually not considered at first. If you can contain and control the environment, you will eliminate some problems altogether and reduce maintenance by as much as a half.
Humidity and temperature are two key factors in keeping your floor safe and clean. The warmer the room gets, the softer the (non-wood) floor surface becomes. The darker the color of the floor, the more heat is absorbed and retained. Non-wood floor surfaces can get so soft that heel impressions can become permanent. The floor may also become more vulnerable to cuts, abrasions and other damage.
If your floor has been semi-permanently installed and gets much warmer than when it was laid, it will probably expand, bubble up, create waves, and have to be reset. On the other hand, if the floor gets cold, it contracts, gets harder and less flexible, increasing the possibility of cracking and fracturing. Temperature changes of 20 or more degrees can have a major impact on the viability of the floor surface. Temperature change comes about because of sunlight through windows/skylights, wind penetration at doors and windows, slabs and ceilings that are not insulated, heat given off by dancers, and erratic thermostat settings.
Wood subfloors and surfaces especially are vulnerable to the effects of temperature and moisture or high humidity. Wood can cup, warp and swell, resulting in excess wear and splintering. It also creates an environment where mold can develop. Most conditions that cause this kind of deterioration can be reversed, and the floor can be salvaged if addressed sooner rather than later. Call our technical support for assistance.
Moisture can be both friend and foe to any performance surface/subfloor system, too little and the floor can be a slip hazard, too much and you can have warping of the surface (wood floors) or the subfloor or worse, mold. It is a balancing act that determines the overall performance of your floor, and the ability to maintain it.
Too Much Moisture — Caused by high humidity, unprotected concrete slabs, flood mopping and improperly functioning heating or air conditioning.
Results — Excessive moisture can cause slippery floors, attract excessive dust and dirt, breakdown tapes and adhesives, and lead to both surface and subfloor failure. When there is too much moisture in a room the humidity of the space will rise above the standard 50-70% needed to maintain a good dance environment. The air in the room will hold onto this moisture throughout the day while the rooms are warm and in use. (Typically the HVAC system handles the moisture in the air, but as humidity goes above 70% the system begins to fail.) As the rooms cool down overnight or when not in use, this excess moisture will settle out of the air onto the floor surface — bonding with dirt, dust, body oil, hair products, skin creams, etc. creating a recipe that lowers the co-efficient of friction and will turn any floor into an ice skating rink. In addition, the moisture will also begin to collect in the cool spaces beneath the subfloor, where the moisture can lead to the breakdown of wood, and the growth of mold. Moisture is the leading cause of premature subfloor failure.
Solution — First find the root cause of the moisture. Moisture from concrete slabs is not unusual and can be addressed with a moisture barrier. Flood mopping where water and cleaning agents are poured directly onto the floor can cause water to seep into and below the subfloor and also evaporate excessive moisture into the room. The solution is simple. By following cleaning instructions in this manual you’ll learn to never flood mop. High humidity areas are both a function of your geographic location and the overall health of your HVAC system. If you are in this type of location, have your HVAC inspected and be sure it is functioning properly. If all is good, and the in studio humidity is over 70% you will need to invest in a dehumidifier. (Note: Do not take the humidity below 50%).
Too Little Moisture — Caused by dry, arid locations, upper floor locations and improperly functioning HVAC systems.
Results — Slippery floors from loose dry dust and other contaminants on the floor. Dehydration of adhesive and tapes lead to bond failure. Increased risk of excessive build up of static electricity which can lead to failure of sound system equipment and even possible injury from electric shock. (Have you ever been shocked touching your sound system after walking across your dance floor?) Dry skin and/or nose?
Solution — Check your HVAC to make sure it is functioning properly and not removing too much moisture from your environment. Next, check that the relative humidity is between 50-70%. This is critical for a performance floor/subfloor to function properly. In all cases, the solution is the same, the introduction of moisture which is done by one of two ways:
1. Adjust HVAC to allow for more humidity. This is the solution when the system is running too much and excessively drying out your environment.
2. Add a humidifier, this can be done with a stand-alone unit or one that is attached to your current HVAC system. Be sure to get the best you can as these will typically function for many years. The best units are ones that allow you to set the percentage you are trying to maintain. Your goal is to get your space to 50-70% relative humidity.
Here are additional steps to help maintain floor surface and moisture levels:
• Dry mop floor frequently
• Your goal is to get your space 50-70% relative humidity
• Monitor room temperature and keep steady with large fluctuations to a minimum
• Add blinds or drapes to block direct sunlight
• Take dance shoes on and off in the studio to reduce transfer of outside elements
• Make sure room is insulated properly
Another problem at the other end of the moisture spectrum is static electricity. In a dry atmosphere, usually caused by a heating system and or winter weather, the relative humidity drops. Add friction caused by walking on carpets or virtually any movement activity and you produce static electricity.
A static electricity charge can be painful and give you a shock. It can also blow out sound systems. Static electricity turns shoes into a dust and dirt magnet and the first slide, shuffle, skip, or hop deposits a mess on your floor. Installing a humidifier in your HVAC system and wet mopping your floor in the morning before classes start should put an end to this disagreeable problem. Being aware of your environment, and its impact on your floor, is key to dealing with and preventing problems that may be baffling you about the care and maintenance of your floor.