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Evaluating Maintenance Costs

By Michael Hilton

Estimating and comparing maintenance costs for various floor coverings is always a challenge, because you must make a value judgment regarding acceptable appearance. Any facility manager understands, when facility appearance is the primary issue, some hard surface flooring materials require a more rigid maintenance regimen to obtain the same appearance levels as carpet. A number of surveys and studies have been completed over the past 5 - 6 years comparing maintenance costs for each floor covering. Cleaning and Maintenance Management magazine recently revealed the results on their own study which was quite accurate when other studies also are considered.

Other studies include the 1990 BOMA Study which was a survey of facility managers throughout the country and the Carpax study which was an examination of school maintenance programs using International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) cleaning rates and frequencies. The CARPAX Study affords the easiest approach for facility managers to estimate maintenance costs for their facility.

CARPAX Study

Each facility manager can establish a maintenance cost comparison for each flooring system by combining their own maintenance frequencies using the following time management data. (Example: For vacuuming, insert the number of days vacuuming is to be performed (180). Multiply the number of days for vacuuming (180) by the number of minutes required to vacuum 1000 sq. ft. (12) to obtain the total minutes per year for the activity. (18 x 12 = 2160). Divide this number (2160) by 1000 (2160 ÷ 1000 = 2.16 minutes per sq ft). Multiply total minutes per sq. ft. for each activity by the average hourly wage rate divided 60 minutes to obtain cost per sq ft. per year.) Vacuuming - 12 minutes x 180 days = 2160 total minutes/ year/1000 sq. Ft. ÷ 1000 sq. Ft = 2.16 sq. Ft. x $8.50 per hour labor rate = $18.36 ÷ 60 minutes = $0.306 cost per sq. ft. per year.

Carpet

ACTIVITY MINUTES/1000 sq ft ANNUAL FREQUENCY IN DAYS TOTAL MINUTES/1000 sq ft/yr COST/sq. ft.* PER YEAR ($/ sq. ft.)
Vacuuming 12 180 2160 $0.306
Spot Removal 4 90 360 $0.051
Hot Water Extraction 75 4 300 $0.043
Chemical Costs 0 0 0 $0.012
TOTAL 3540 $0.52

VCT

ACTIVITY MINUTES/1000 sq ft ANNUAL FREQUENCY IN DAYS TOTAL MINUTES/1000 sq ft/yr COST/sq. ft.* PER YEAR ($/ sq. ft.)
Dust Mopping 9 180 1620 $0.23
Wet Mopping 24 72 1728 $0.245
Spray Burnish 15 72 1080 $0.153
Scrub Clean 6 4 24 $0.003
Strip/Finish 76 2 152 $0.022
Chemical Costs 0 0 0 $0.036
TOTAL 4604 $0.69

Surveys of actual cleaning costs indicate actual maintenance costs for hard surfaces may exceed ISSA estimates, however the Carpet and Rug Institute has elected to use figures expressed in the CARPAX Study.

For schools, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has recently developed a specialized publication entitled "Floor Covering Maintenance for School Facilities". A complimentary copy is available for schools. This publication provides insight into common problems experienced by school maintenance personnel, offers solutions to common problems, details the steps in organizing an effective maintenance program, recommends specific maintenance frequencies, and provides a holistic look at maintenance within any school facility. Schools can obtain a complimentary copy of "Floor Covering Maintenence for School Facilities" by contacting CRI at (706) 278 - 0232 or by writing the CRI at P.O. Box 1231, Dalton, GA 30722.

Estimating and comparing maintenance costs for various flooring systems is always a challenge. Value judgments related to appearance are very subjective. Accepted appearance levels for facilities where maintenance costs are the primary concern may be completely unacceptable in a facility that demands a sanitized, sparkling representation. Comparing maintenance costs based on appearance between carpet and hard surfaces also can be quite unfair to hard surfaces because carpet does a commendable job of hiding soil accumulation. Any facility manager understands, when facility appearance is the primary issue, some hard surface flooring materials require a much more rigid maintenance regimen to obtain a comparable level appearance.

Another obstacle in comparing maintenance costs is rarely do maintenance staffs perform duties as they should be performed A number of studies and surveys comparing maintenance costs for various flooring systems have been completed over the past several years. In fact, a study always can be found that demonstrates a particular flooring system is cheaper to maintain that competing flooring systems. This is possible when a comparing a neglectful maintenance program to a superior program.

Two realistic studies include the 1990 BOMA Study which was a survey of facility managers throughout the country and the Carpax study which was an examination of school maintenance programs using International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) cleaning rates and frequencies. The CARPAX Study affords the easiest approach for facility managers to estimate maintenance costs for their facility.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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Carpet and IAQ in Schools
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Commercial Facility Maintenance Problems
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