Floors For Foodservice

Possibly the safest floor that can be installed in a park and recreation center kitchen is concrete or cement.* This type of floor is considered a safe surface, and requires little cleaning and maintenance other than sweeping and mopping.

However, concrete/cement is not commonly used in commercial kitchens. What is considered the floor of choice for all types of facilities is quarry tile. Without going into too much detail, quarry tiles can be compared to half-inch bricks. They are made from a mixture of clay and other natural ingredients, and by themselves are reasonably slip-resistant.

As far as helping to prevent a slip-and-fall accident from occurring, the problem lies not with the quarry tiles but with the material used to install them. In most cases, grout helps secure the quarry tile to the floor and connect it to surrounding tiles. This forms a bond that not only secures the tiles but also helps waterproof the floor, protecting the subfloor below the kitchen.

The problem is that soil and grease tend to collect in the grout areas, and this is frequently why a slip-and-fall accident occurs.

Cleaning And Maintenance

At one time, the most common way to clean quarry-tile floors in a commercial setting was to apply powerful degreasers, deck (brush) the degreaser into the tile and grout areas, hose the floor down to wash away the chemical, and then allow the floor to air dry.

This can be time-consuming and, therefore, costly. Further, today we know that some degreasers can harm the environment, and hosing down the floor can use anywhere from 9 gallons to more than 20 gallons of water per minute.** Using this much water is simply not an option today in most areas of the country.

Adding to this, the floor can take a considerable amount of time to dry, which in and of itself can result in a slip-and-fall accident.

Today, many commercial kitchen floors are simply mopped. This is a slow process and not very effective. Numerous studies in recent years by organizations such as the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) indicate that mopping a floor often spreads soil instead of removing it, defeating the entire cleaning purpose.

An effective option that many commercial kitchens are adopting is referred to as a “dispense-and-vac” system, comprised of a trolley-type bucket, a brush, and an attached wet/vac. The cleaning procedure is as follows:

• Fresh and measured amounts of water/cleaning solution are applied to the floor as the bucket is walked over the tiles.

• The floor is lightly brushed, ensuring that the floor surface and the grout areas are cleaned.

• Soils and liquid are vacuumed up, leaving the floor clean and dry.

It is actually this final step that is the key to the entire process. Vacuuming the solution and moisture ensures that they, along with soils and grease, are thoroughly removed from the tile and grout. Further, the floor is dry and ready for use almost as soon as it is cleaned, enhancing safety.

Tom Morrison is a frequent writer for the professional cleaning industry, and vice president of sales and marketing for Kaivac, manufacturers of No-Touch Cleaning and Crossover Cleaning Systems.

* Concrete and cement are actually not the same, although they are often used interchangeably. Cement is actually a type of concrete, made of different ingredients in different quantities, and processed in a different manner. However, for our purposes here, we will refer to them as essentially the same.

**Depends on the diameter of the hose, from one-half inch to three-quarters inch, along with the water pressure.

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