Educators and administrators may differ over what kind of floor surfaces they prefer in their facilities — carpeting or hard flooring. Advocates on each side can make a case for their choices, depending on how a building is being used, the wishes of building occupants, or the budget they have available.

But no matter what kind of flooring a facility has, most people involved in maintaining schools would agree that an effective cleaning and maintenance program is critical for education institutions that want their floors to last. Poor or inconsistent cleaning and upkeep can result in surfaces that are dirty, unsafe and unhealthful.

Carpet cleaning

The Carpet & Rug Institute says that an effective carpet maintenance program has five elements: soil containment; vacuuming; a spot and spill removal system; interim cleaning; and restorative cleaning.

Its “Carpet Maintenance Guidelines” recommend outside and inside mats, which minimize the dirt and debris that people track into a building. The institute says outside mats should have a coarse texture that enables people to brush soil from their shoes; the mats should be able to hold large amounts of soil. Inside mats should be waterproof to prevent moisture from soaking into the indoor carpet.

The institute says that an inside mat of 6 to 15 feet will collect 80 percent of the soil and moisture entering the building on peoples' shoes. Such protective mats also are beneficial around food stations, water coolers, elevators and stair thresholds.

Vacuuming is a fundamental part of carpet maintenance, and it's important to use your vacuuming resources efficiently.

“The most important features of your vacuuming maintenance program will be identifying high-, medium- and low-traffic areas by continually monitoring carpet performance and making any necessary adjustments to the schedule,” the institute's guide says.

The guide suggests categorizing areas of a building based on the amount of traffic they receive: high, moderate or light. High-traffic areas (entrances, hallways, break rooms, cafeterias, corridors, elevator lobbies, stairways, main aisles, waiting areas) should be vacuumed daily, or more often if necessary. Moderate-traffic areas (research areas, conference rooms, classrooms, atriums, secondary aisles) should be vacuumed at least two or three times a week. Light-traffic areas (offices, cubicles, storage rooms, executive areas) should be vacuumed at least once or twice a week.