Every day, students, staff and visitors walk through school doors and throughout buildings on campus. Dirt, sand, grit and substances such as asphalt, driveway sealer, oil and grease can be tracked easily into a building, causing floors to become dirty, unattractive and even hazardous.
The fall and winter months introduce elements that challenge custodial staffs. In the fall, leaves can blow in the door and stick to shoes. In the winter, chemicals used to treat pavement make it slippery and wreak havoc on a floor's finish.
To get the maximum life out of floors, they need to be kept clean and in good shape. But most important, clean floors will help those walking on them avoid injury.
The first step
Ideally, the most effective way to keep debris from entering a building would be for occupants to remove their shoes before entering. This is highly unlikely to occur at most schools and universities, but practical alternatives are available.
Walkoff mats can prevent debris from being tracked into the building. According to David Gurwell, assistant director of facilities at Iowa City (Iowa) Community School District, walkoff mats not only help keep floors clean, but also, when used properly, prolong the life of the building's flooring.
“Mats need to be 15 to 25 feet in length,” says Gurwell. “After four steps with each foot, the mat loses its effectiveness.” Gravel and other grit carried in on shoes can scratch and deface the flooring surface.
The age of those who use the building also plays a role in determining the appropriate length for mats. Entrances where students re-enter the building from recess and other outdoor activities are more prone to wear and tear. These areas need special attention.
Bob Sperling, director of buildings and grounds, Allentown (Pa.) School District, suggests that larger and longer mats will be more effective in keeping debris out of hallways.
“Using mats indoors and outdoors increases their effectiveness of preventing debris from entering the building,” says Sperling.
In a new building at Wofford College, Spartanburg, S.C., officials are planning to use carpet that is designed to work like a walkoff mat, says Tom Rocks, director of physical plant.
“In the college environment, there needs to be enough room for people to be able to pause and wipe their feet before entering the building,” says Rocks.