Building lobbies and hallways are high-traffic areas, prone to tracked-in dirt and street grime, scuffs from shoes, luggage, and equipment, slush and salt in the winter, and in dog-friendly buildings, the occasional indiscretion committed by a furry resident.
All of this takes a toll on flooring, whether it be marble, hardwood, rugs, or carpet - and that wear-and-tear can quickly erode the first impression your common areas make on residents and visitors alike. Knowing how to keep your floors and floor coverings looking sharp goes a long way toward maintaining curb appeal and ensuring that your building and its residents are putting their best foot forward.
“Carpet is always the biggest concern in terms of floor coverings,” says Marilyn Sygrove, president of Sygrove Design Associates, a New York-based interior design firm. “Long-term, the most important factor may be the designer specifying the right material for the space to begin with. Is that space vulnerable to pet stains and bleach marks? Pet urine and bleach will not come out easily. Once carpet is badly damaged, it has to be replaced.”
Sygrove explains that basically, “There are two types of carpets: yarn dyed and solution dyed. In yarn dyed carpets, the dye is applied to the yarn after the carpet is made. In solution dyed carpets, which are generally made of nylon, the color of the dye is through the yarn [before it’s woven]. That is one of the reasons why nylon carpets are our ‘go-to’ carpets. While we must use nylon, our preference is always for an 80%/20% wool nylon Axminster blend.” (Axminster is a type of weave originating in the English town of the same name, which has been known for carpet manufacturing since the mid-1700s.)
Sygrove cautions that urine and bleach can both take the color out of a yarn-dyed rug, though she does add that based on testing and experience, “Axminster weaves are impervious to both dog urine and bleach. Solution dyed nylon carpets are also urine- and bleach-resistant.”
When there is a mishap on a rug or carpet that requires intervention, Sygrove recommends the Whittaker Carpet cleaning system for spot removal. It has a broad array of products to clean all types of carpet and can actually be put into carpet bid packages as part of what contractors must supply. Sygrove also notes that some of the carpet cleaning pros she works with do not recommend applying topical ‘stain master’-type products to spot-clean stained carpet. For that type of cleaning, she recommends a product called Cleaner Resolve, which includes a urine treatment component.
Of course, it’s not all area rugs and wall-to-wall; your building may have terrazzo, tile, linoleum, or other flooring surfaces - and those still need to be cleaned and maintained. For terrazzo, Sygrove recommends a warm water mop-up or damp rag to clean up anything, including dog accidents. “Terrazzo tends not to stain, so it’s a fantastic surface,” she says.
Linoleum and luxury vinyl tile require little or no maintenance other than damp mopping as needed for smudges, scuffs, and general hygiene. Dog urine is not an issue, though according to Sygrove it’s important to know that using too much water when mopping can be a problem on any type of flooring, because it seeps into the seams and can cause the underlying adhesive to break down over time.
“The duty of a good designer,” says Sygrove, “is to assure durability and easy maintenance, as well as style. A good designer will also do their own test on samples to see how they perform in reality before recommending a product - especially if it is new to the market. Some products claim they will perform a certain way but sadly do not, and some perform better than others. Education is one’s best defense.”
Even with climate change wreaking havoc on seasonal weather patterns, the slush, salt, and other elements assailing your building’s floors every winter are well on the way. Now is the time to stock up on the tools your staff will need to keep everything looking clean and welcoming.