Taking good care of your school’s floors is important, but not all flooring is created equal. Hardwood flooring, specifically gym flooring, is a major investment and requires special care and maintenance...

Dust Mop Heads, Handles, and Frames for School Floor MaintenanceDust Mop Heads, Handles, and Frames for School Floor Maintenance

A new gym floor installation can cost anywhere from $75,000 to $125,000 and lasts approximately 15 to 25 years. To extend the flooring life, some schools will do a complete refinish of the floor every five to eight years. This includes sanding, repainting, and adding new finish and costs an estimated $20,000 to $30,000. This option may not be in the budget for every school due to installation costs. So what is a school to do? This is where yearly maintenance and a consistent cleaning regimen become necessary.

Annual maintenance, which includes finish and re-coat, costs approximately $2,500 to $4,500 depending on your floor type and square footage. This may still sound costly, but not completing this yearly maintenance can decrease the life span of the flooring by up to 30%. Schools cannot afford to skip it. By completing this annual maintenance, your school saves hours of labor and thousands of dollars. Giving your gym floor proper care and maintenance are critical to extending the life of the flooring.

Get to Know Your Floor

The first step in proper care is educating maintenance and janitorial staff. It’s vital to know what type of wood and finish the flooring has in order to care for it correctly. Applying the wrong cleaning solutions could result in safety hazards, a lackluster finish, lessen the life of the floor, or even damage it irreversibly. If there are any doubts about the wood type or finish type, most hardwood flooring experts are available for consultation to assess the wood and finish type. Consistent cleaning and maintenance takes commitment, time, and attention to detail, but cost-saving benefits will be significant.

Keep It Clean with the Right Tools

Implementing a regular, ongoing cleaning regimen with the right tools keeps the floor clean and helps address any tricky spots that could lead to more significant issues down the road. Be consistent with dust mopping; doing so between events during the day prevents slip hazards and makes cleaning at the end of the day easier and faster.

Using the right tools for cleaning is critical to proper care. Be sure your auto scrubber is well-maintained and that the correct microfiber pad, mop, and dusting pads are used. Also, make sure to clean all dusting and microfiber pads before each use if these are not disposable. Do not use all-purpose cleaners or hard-surface cleaners, as these are too harsh for hardwood flooring. These cleaners will dull the finish or leave a residue that can cause slips and falls. The right cleaning solution will be a professional strength, pH neutral, non-toxic solution, specifically formulated for your floor type.

Janitorial Tools and Cleaning Equipment for SchoolsJanitorial Tools and Cleaning Equipment for Schools
Floor Care Tools & Equipment

Prepare for Weather

The active ingredient in most ice melt products is salt and magnesium chloride. These are harmful and can damage hardwood floors. Not only will it leave a white residue and make floors slippery, but it can also cause damage. Salt creates micros scratches in the finish, which decreases the floor life span. Choose a specialty cleaning solution that removes salt and calcium chloride in the winter months.

Prevention is Key

The best way to properly care for your hardwood gym floor is training. Ensure all staff involved in floor care is adequately trained for the care and maintenance of hardwood floors. This will prevent damage to the floors due to uninformed staff members using incorrect cleaning solutions or tools. Another preventative measure is to place matting at key entry points to the gym. Be sure to vacuum all matting on a daily basis and routinely clean vacuum air filters.

Polyester Roll Matting for School GymnasiumsPolyester Roll Matting for School Gymnasiums
Pictured: Polyester Roll Matting (Part No. RM726)

Finish Matters

The final maintenance step is refinishing. This consists of stripping and re-coating the floor’s finish. It is recommended that this be done annually. Depending on a school’s budget, some may refinish twice a year, while others go every other year.

Be sure that the finish you use is correct for your gym floor. The wrong finish can cause damage to the flooring and shorten the floor life span. If your gym floor was installed within the last three years, then it’s a good idea to use an oil-modified urethane finish. After a few years, the wood will have time to expand and contract. In turn, this will tighten or fill any gaps between strips. When this happens, it’s okay to switch to a water-based finish.


Oil-Based Finishes vs. Water-Based Finishes:

  • Oil-Based finishes are tougher and more durable due to a heavy mill thickness. It will also amber, or darken, at a faster rate than water-based finishes.
  • Water-Based finishes still offer a quality coating but with additional benefits. These offer a healthier finish due to low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and faster dry or cure times.


The refinishing process consists of the following basic steps:

  1. Clean with a dust mop, then auto scrubber.
  2. Lightly abrade, or sand, the surface using a large propane scrubber or smaller scrub machine.
  3. Remove sanding dust with a dust mop and then rinse the surface using a riding or other auto scrubber.
  4. Apply coating, or finish, using an 18-24” wide pull bar and pour can or a specially designed bucket.
  5. Allow the finish to cure or dry before adding another coat.
  6. Follow the directions for your chosen finish for the number of coats and cure times.

School Fix is Here to Help

Many school floor care measures can be implemented in your facility’s maintenance plan, but if you’re on a tight budget and need gymnasium floor maintenance solutions that are quick & easy to find, look no further. There is a School Fix® product to fit your needs! We hope you found this guide helpful. To read more about our products or solutions to common school maintenance concerns, please visit the School Fix® Blog.

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