There are many types of tiles, including unglazed quarry, high-fired ceramics, porcelain, granite, mosaic, dense stone, saltillo, and terrazzo. Seamless systems, ground-polished, and ground-polished stained concrete, all without grout lines, are becoming more prevalent. During the design process of a facility, it is vital to match the floor surface to the facility type, amount of foot traffic, and most common types of soils that need to be removed.
The surface density and texture of the tile can affect cleaning results. Adsorption is the chemical process soils use to stick to the tile surface and relates to the tile density. A highly dense tile will have less adsorption and soils won’t stick to the tile surface as easily.
Different tile surfaces have varying drying times and can also affect the coefficient of friction. (You can find the wet dynamic coefficient of friction data for tiles using the American National Standards Institute ANSI B101.3 or A326.3 standards.) Smooth tiles will dry at a slower rate than textured, unglazed tile and have a larger probability of being more slippery when wet.
The size of tiles—and the amount of grout—affects the drying time as well as the best process to use for cleaning. A smaller tile will have more grout, but will also reduce the probability of slips and falls.
Wet vs. Damp
Daily floor cleaning should be done using a wet mop. The mop head should be saturated with cleaning chemical and not wrung out prior to use. Damp mopping should only be used for spot cleaning of spills or other soils as it does not deliver enough cleaning chemical to thoroughly clean the floor; buildup can quickly occur that negatively impacts the floor’s coefficient of friction, appearance, and drying time.
Move It or Lose It
Agitation is a key part of the cleaning process that is typically not done well or not done at all. Agitation is critical in ensuring the chemical can penetrate the pores of the tile surface and remain in the tile pores after each mopping. If the pores aren’t open, the chemical performance will significantly decrease. Grout also requires agitation to break down soils left behind in the grout lines during mopping.
Since mop heads alone do not provide sufficient agitation, you will need a secondary tool or process. Traditionally, for grouted tile, deck brushes with bristles are used to create required agitation. However, here too, there are issues to consider. For one, the level of abrasion required to clean the tile surface can potentially damage and wear down the grout material surfaces. The quality of deck brushes also affects the outcome: Many deck brushes have less than desirable bristle fiber-bend recovery so that, much like an overused toothbrush, the bristles soon provide very little agitation. Conversely, deck brushes with good fiber-bend recovery are more difficult to push, adding physical stress and time to employee cleaning.