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Wood flooring has been making a comeback of late in retail stores, where it is turning up in place of stone, tile and other hard-surface flooring materials. Although such surfaces don’t come cheap, running from $3 per square foot for unfinished oak planks to more than $12 a square foot for exotic types of wood, there is no denying their appeal. The combination of aesthetics, design possibilities and durability makes wood flooring an attractive option for retail spaces.

Although wood flooring offers many advantages, cleaning experts caution that such floors have distinct maintenance requirements. The key is maintenance on a regular basis.

“Dirt and dust on a wood floor is like a razor cutting into the floor,” said Mike Nelson, VP of marketing for Pro-Link, Canton, Mass., a full-service janitorial supply, marketing and buying organization. “That’s why it’s so essential to have an effective maintenance program. This includes vacuuming, dust mopping with microfiber dust mops that don’t require mop treatment systems so no excess oil is added to the floor, and damp mopping.”

Performed regularly, these daily practices can protect a retailer’s upfront investment. Regular maintenance also can delay such costly tasks as refinishing, which can negatively impact air quality as a result of sanding.

“Every hour spent on maintenance duties will save many hours of labor in the future,” Nelson added. “It’s an investment that pays big dividends in appearance, safety, and prolonging the life of expensive hardwood surfaces.”

Among Nelson’s floor-care suggestions for retailers:

“Beyond daily maintenance, wood floors also need a ‘deeper cleaning’ or scrubbing, depending upon usage,” Nelson said. “An automatic scrubber may be used to remove soil, dirt and stains on the surface of the wood floor, especially dirt that a dust mop doesn’t remove.”

Training should be an important component of any maintenance program. The more formalized the training process, the better the long-term results, according to Nelson.

“Comprehensive floor-care training also saves money,” he said. “Workers learn how to use products, chemicals and equipment most effectively, which helps reduce time and labor costs.”