Park Ridge Schools Save Money, Increase Safety, and Address Long-Running Faculty Complaints Using the Diamond Devil™ Terrazzo Restoration & Polishing System
- School District leadership acknowledged that stripping and waxing terrazzo wasn’t the best way — it was the only method employees knew to maintain floors
- Time required for lengthy process
- During summer, hallway floor maintenance limited staff’s school access
- Constant threats of slips and falls
- Strong, disruptive odors, and toxicity from chemicals
- Discovered The Diamond Devil™ Terrazzo Restoration & Polishing System as a more economical, safer, and environmentally friendly solution
- Chemical-free using only water; no harsh, odorous, and potentially toxic chemicals
- Works on existing floor equipment
- The Hone, Polish, and Shine Tools can be used for a safer, more thorough approach to long-term terrazzo polishing and maintenance
- Using the Shine Tool as part of the maintenance program reduces overall time required and eliminates summer floor projects
- Leadership realized cost-savings immediately, exchanging a significant annual expense for a one-time investment
- Terrazzo floors returned to their original “pop” and maintained a reflective shine regardless of floor traffic
- Teachers can access/set up their classrooms more efficiently
- Greener process without chemicals and no complaints about odors or safety concerns
- Officials believe The Diamond Devil™ System +1 Red Shine Tool will last even longer than indicated
Like Many Other Districts, Park Ridge Schools Had Stripped and Waxed Terrazzo for Decades, Unaware That Other Options Existed. After Early Skepticism, They Quickly Were Won Over by the Diamond Devil™ System Advantages
Located in Bergen County, New Jersey, the Park Ridge School District is comprised of three facilities: East Brook Elementary School, West Ridge Elementary School, and Park Ridge High School. Tom Lepore serves as the district’s facility director. His colleague, Dave Librera, is supervisor of buildings and grounds for the Board of Education.
The high school was constructed in the 1950s and, like so many others of its era, sports terrazzo flooring in its hallways. Their maintenance routine was a lot like many other schools: regular stripping and waxing. Roughly one week before school started each year, Librera and his team would begin work on the hallways, after the classrooms were stripped and waxed. They would have to work in sections because each part of the process took so long. The caustic stripper and ammonia-based finish requires drying time in between coats. The lengthy process was frustrating for administrators and teachers trying to set up their classrooms.
The harsh stripping chemical had a horrific smell, so toxic that it is recommended to be used when no one is in the building. Being able to open all windows and doors for ventilation during the summer is a temporary resolution – one that becomes impossible as the temperatures start to drop in the winter. This was a constant complaint from teachers and staff members over the years.
Terrazzo is known for its ease of maintenance, but that doesn’t mean it is totally problem-free. During the winter at Park Ridge a lot of calcium and salt used to treat the sidewalks would eventually make its way indoors. This led to discoloration on the floors all season long.
Stripping and Waxing Terrazzo: an Unfortunate “cost of Doing Business”
In large part, because stripping and waxing is a maintenance technique that is nearly universal in school districts and other public places across the country, even some seasoned professionals don’t realize that this is not how you’re supposed to care for terrazzo.
Because terrazzo is porous, once the wax begins to set in, it leaves a residue that creates a lower friction surface that reduces the material’s natural slip resistance. In other words, the shinier and cleaner terrazzo floors look once stripped and waxed, the slipperier they tend to be—especially if water is introduced.
Because of how time-consuming and finicky the process is, it must be done during the summer and by the time classrooms are completed and work can begin on the terrazzo hallways there are only a few weeks remaining before school’s back in session. This means that teachers cannot begin to set up their rooms until close to the first day of class and usually only have access to do so for an hour or two at a time.
To his credit, Lepore was under no illusions that the disadvantages of stripping and waxing terrazzo floors were anything other than fact. A 35-year industry veteran, these were issues he’d seen first-hand throughout his career. And, although he knew them to be true, he believed that this was just a necessary evil in maintaining terrazzo floors.
Lepore said that stripping and waxing was “not the best for stone floors, but it was the best system my staff had knowledge of using, so it was the best use of time.”
In his own cost-benefit analysis, the benefit of stripping and waxing still outweighed the cost – or at least, that’s what he thought at the time. It was the only way to get the “pop” and shine they wanted on their floors at the beginning of the school year.
Diamond Devil™: a Welcome Surprise at the Best Possible Time
Even though Lepore and his colleagues were not actively looking for a viable alternative to issues plaguing them from stripping and waxing, they attended the New Jersey Buildings and Ground conference with an open mind. Finding new systems and technologies to introduce had always been a priority for Lepore
At that conference Lepore and his team encountered The Diamond Devil™ Terrazzo Restoration & Polishing System. It includes three tools that are designed to help restore, polish and maintain terrazzo floors in even the most heavily trafficked areas.
- The process requires one last chemical strip on the terrazzo floors
- Then, using only water, the Hone (Green) Tool is used to set terrazzo to a honed finish, ready for the polish
- The Polish (Natural) Tool closes the terrazzo and brings out a clean even satin/polish finish
- Finally, the Shine (Red) Tool elevates the terrazzo floors to an unmatched image gloss and clarity
While Lepore and Librera were certainly impressed by the potential of what they witnessed with The Diamond Devil™ System, they were still skeptical. Regardless, they decided to schedule a free on-site demonstration with a representative so they could see the system up close and personal.
Again, Lepore recognized that although stripping and waxing had distinct disadvantages, it also was essentially the best option available. Librera was a bit more direct in his opinion, stating, “I was an ‘old schooler’ who did things the old way.” He wasn’t just used to stripping and waxing terrazzo—it was the route he legitimately preferred despite its obvious faults.
All it took was one demonstration to change both of their minds. If seeing the product at the conference caught their attention, the on-site demonstration sold them wholeheartedly.
Right away, Lepore, Librera, and the rest of the Park Ridge Schools team began to experience the benefits that came with finally getting rid of their old school reliance on stripping and waxing.
There’s also the fact that reducing the use of chemicals around schools had a major positive impact on both students and staff. “Through the Board of Education and the EPA regulations, going green was a huge benefit to all of the schools,” said Lepore.
The one last challenge facing the Park Ridge team was cost. Lepore was a bit surprised when he saw the price of the tools. However, he quickly realized that The Diamond Devil™ System pays for itself within the first year once you average the cost of the stripper, wax, and labor. The below chart illustrates the cost savings.
Additionally, The Diamond Devil™ Terrazzo Restoration & Polishing System is a one-time purchase as opposed to an annual expense. This means that you realize the cost savings
year-over-year indefinitely, all while eliminating the use of chemicals and performing a safer process.
A Transformation Begins
By any metric, the use of The Diamond Devil™ System at Park Ridge Schools has been a success. Now, administrators and teachers have access to the building and classrooms earlier than ever before. Because of the switch to Diamond Devil™, the floors can be polished and maintained as part of the daily/weekly maintenance program. Staff can now occupy the building whenever they need to, without being exposed to unwanted and potentially dangerous fumes
Lepore and his team’s initial reaction was “WOW.” They noticed that the floor shined every bit as vibrantly as it did with floor finish having been applied to it, but without anything on the floor at all.
He said now, “you can see the detail of lights in the floor. You can count the fixtures. The definition and the reflective quality of the floor is unbelievable.” Even if the floor was reflective with stripping and waxing, this wouldn’t last for longer than a day or two before everything dulled again due to foot traffic. “You can actually see the ‘Exit’ lights reflecting in the floor,” which had never been true before, he said.
In terms of safety, the elimination of floor finish has certainly removed issues with slips and falls as there is no longer any wax or other dangerous residue on the floors.
Librera also indicated that overall maintenance for the terrazzo floors is far easier than ever. Take stains, for example – it’s simply not a concern because the floors are no longer being waxed. With The Diamond Devil™ Shine Tool, stains simply wash right off. This is because the floor is polished and honed so the pores of the terrazzo are closed, preventing stains from penetrating the surface.
“It’s one of the best systems I have ever used in floor care”
These days, the floors are very easy to maintain throughout the school year and even during sporting events. If necessary, the maintenance team can shut down precise sections of the hallway to work on problem areas. Nobody is forced to wait, and almost immediately people can walk on the floors again as no dry time is required.
Another factor that impressed the Park Ridge team is the longevity of the tools. They have used the Red Shine Tool multiple times and notice little wear on the tool itself. They are so confident that they believe it will last longer than originally thought.
The Red Shine Tool is used commonly on the weekends or second shift if a specific area needs attention. It’s used instead of just scrubbing the floor because they see better results with a fraction of the effort.
A Better Environment Creates a Better Experience in More Ways Than One
The Park Ridge School employees didn’t realize that there was a system that could be used to maintain terrazzo that didn’t require the use of chemicals and was a safer and more streamlined process.
Thankfully, they found The Diamond Devil™ Terrazzo Restoration & Polishing System. It’s a safer and greener process to maintain floors. It delivers a better result that lasts longer, costs less, and frees up the maintenance staff to focus on other projects. The “WOW” factor has returned, and it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
“It’s easier than I thought it was going to be in the beginning because I was an old schooler.”
Lepore rated The Diamond Devil™ System “5 out of 5 stars” thanks to how simple it is to use and because of how many problems it helped solve. Not only are there no chemicals, but the staff doesn’t have to deal with strippers, waxes, noxious odors from chemicals in the air, and more.
In Librera’s opinion, how you maintain your main hallways is a direct reflection of how much you care about your facilities. When you put the effort into making sure you have a shiny floor, it illustrates how much passion you have for the entire environment and everyone within it.
“I was happily surprised,” said Librera, indicating he’d finally abandon his “old school” mentality. “When I saw that this does bring out the shine, I was happy to see that because I know, from the principals I’ve had above me that this is what they look for.” Shiny floors also impress visitors because they are “the first thing people see when they walk in, so to have that ‘pop’ is a good reflection for me and the school.”