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More floor care bidding tips

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Become a floor care bidding expert


Learn to submit accurate cleaning bids

Q. What would I charge to strip a floor that has been recoated 3 times with about 5 coats of finish?  The store will be open when we do the job.  

A. Your numbers show a possibility of 15 or more coats of finish in the last year. I would recommend you perform a test strip in a small area first. Determine if there is a permanent seal under all those coats of floor finish. From this, you will see if it takes 2 or 3 strip outs.

You won't believe this, but I have seen contractors go in at 50 cents a square foot and not turn a profit. They expected close to 200 sq. ft. per hour and ended up with 20 sq. ft. per hour, down on their knees with razor scrapers.

A job like this is too difficult to guess in advance how long it will take. A pre-test will, at least, give you some idea of the task difficulty. Then, all you have to do is figure out how you can possibly do this work without shutting off access to large areas of the store. Be very careful contracting for this one.
  JanBid will definately help you price this one accurately. 

Q. How do I strip a classroom with about 30 computers plugged in? 

A. With just a few computers, I have placed Styrofoam blocks from the carpet cleaning supply house inside the four corners. This elevates them 1" or more. Make sure the blocks are inside the parameter, so when you place the computer back down on the floor, you have stripped and finished an inch or two under the frame.

Then, take all the wires and gather them to the tightest wire and tape them with masking tape. The objective is to elevate them so they do not touch the floor.
With 30 computers, there is no easy way, unless you ask the customer to remove all of them prior to the job.

However, it is best by far to remove all the computers from the room to prevent stripper and floor finish from being splashed on them.  

Q.  Can you give me some suggestions on strip and wax for 42,000 sq. ft of tile? 

A.  There are several variables that will affect your production time - including the experience of your crew. JanBid Estimating Solutions shows five additional variables that will also affect your job time. They are: size and speed of your machines (such as an 18” floor machine and a wet vac, or a 30” counter rotating propane stripping machine and large autoscrubbers), amount of furniture to move, edge buildup and discoloration, approximate number of coats of finish or buildup (5 or 15) and if the floor is primarily one large area or comprised of small and congested rooms.

With this in mind, your labor could run as high as 160 hours, but that’s unlikely unless the facility is a medical clinic with 10 X 10 exam rooms. Production times in the 200 sq. ft. per hour range include edging small rooms and using a standard floor machine and wet vac.  Your question did not specify the size of rooms or if you can use high production equipment. With large rooms and high speed equipment, your labor would likely be down to 70 hours. In fact, if it is all one large area, with light buildup, no furniture and the highest speed equipment available you could be below 60 hours. Again, the size of your equipment and the other four variables will dictate your final time.

There is another factor that cannot be determined without an accurate history or a removal demo. Does the floor have any type of a permanent sealer applied? If so, this could result in a double or triple strip. You may require 70-85 gals. of stripper after dilution. And 5-6 coats of finish would probably use 80-95 gals (depending if you apply it with a wet mop or microfiber dust mop or automatic application device.

The job layout and equipment will dictate the number of workers you can use. If the job took 60 hours and you ran a 5 man crew, that would come out to 12 hours labor each. However, on a job this large without extensive experience, you may want to recruit an experienced subcontractor.  Check out our Floor Care Training Program. 

Q.  What should we be charging to clean commercial tile and grout; about 1000 sq. ft. with no sealer? 

A.  I've seen a wide range in pricing depending on all the variables. For example, small kitchens with lots of equipment to move could go as high as $.75 per square foot using a truckmount and a hydro spinner. It's not unusual for the moving of equipment to consume 25% of the labor.

Larger kitchens or restrooms with little to move could go for $.30 and yet large vacant areas using an autoscrubber could go for $.12. In your case, you will want to establish a sliding scale depending upon size, difficulty, equipment to move, and productivity of the equipment you have available. When possible, do a test area to determine the finished product you will be able to deliver showing the resultant color of the grout.
 Try JanBid, it will produce accurate numbers for you.

Q.  How much should I charge to scrub and coat new VCT in Arkansas? 

A.  On a floor this size in Arkansas, I have seen prices starting at $.22 a square foot to deep scrub and apply 2-3 coats. This would be a standard G.C. spec.
On the other hand, the same job with small rooms and a high gloss requirement (4-5 coats of finish) often commands up to $.50 square foot. The percent of solids and quality of the finish also affects how many coats are required.

With that range in mind (assuming the account is already profitable) quote an affordable price that dissuades them from going out for other bids. The quoted range assumes the floors are ready to go and that you have productive equipment, and it includes all expenses and profit. Two men should be able to finish it in one day, or slightly more.
  JanBid is a snap when bidding floor care.

Q.  What do I charge to strip and finish a VCT floor? 

A.  There are several variables that have an impact on pricing. Once you are experienced, pricing by the square foot is the fastest method. However, your floor care survey form must include the extent of difficulty, which is often dependent upon the degree of heavy build up and the requirements for detailed edging.  The amount of furniture to move is a major consideration as well as the room sizes. With all of this in mind, your pricing for a small and difficult job could start at 50 cents a square foot and range down to below 20 cents for a large supermarket. The number of required coats of finish also affects your pricing.

If you calculate your pricing by the hour, you might find your production rate as low as 120 square feet per hour or as high as 500 square feet per hour. This will be determined by the effectiveness of your stripper and the efficiency and size of your equipment as well as your personal work speed. Some contractors total up the estimated labor, equipment, and chemical costs and then triple that to arrive at the billing rate.
  JanBid make bidding easy.

Q.  What is the rate to strip and wax 10,000 sq. ft. in Oklahoma? 

A.  In metro Oklahoma I would expect to see a range of $.25-$.38 cents a square foot on a strip and 4 coats of finish for 10,000 sq. ft. The price range would need to take into consideration: access, buildup, neglected edge work, layout and number of small rooms.  In addition, it could be higher if moving considerable furniture. If your facility is medical/professional, then you will likely have smaller rooms. You will probably find a scrub and top coat (2 coats) at about 60% of the initial strip price.  JanBid personalizes the prices for any city.

Q. How would I bid scrubbing and sealing 77,000 sq ft of concrete?  

A. You will probably want to use equipment of a larger size. By doing so you should be able to increase your production time 30-100%. A scale of economy would likely indicate a 20% discount for accounts this size. Just momentum alone will improve your production rate. 

Q. I have a new vinyl floor (3500 sq, ft) that needs to be scrubbed, sealed, and finished. I gave an estimate of $800.00. Is this a good estimate?

A. Here are several variables that can affect your production time: (1) level of training for your crew, (2) access to an autoscrubber or at least a 20" floor machine with shower feed tank, (3) no furniture to move (4) no more than 5 small rooms. If you have to compensate for any of these factors, your time could easily increase by 50%. Your price of $800 comes out to just over 21 cents a square foot which is doable. With a helper you could scrub and lay 3 coats of finish in as little as 5.5 hours (add more for the above conditions). That would give you $145 an hour from which you would subtract labor, chemical and all your expenses before paying yourself. Our new edition of JanBid Estimating Software can easily and accurately give you all the answers you are looking for.  

Q. How do I bid a medical facility with 4220 sq. ft. of VCT cleaned every other week? 

A. Your pre-bid inspection should include identifying if certain areas receive more traffic than other. Inquire about suggested scrub and re-coat and deep strip frequencies. Medical facilities have more than average furniture density. Hopefully you can determine the ease or difficulty of access, the equipment you have at your disposal, the traffic the floor gets, and the interim maintenance it receives. 

Since the customer is asking for every other week service that would indicate the facility receives fairly heavy traffic. To move chairs and other light furniture and then mop and burnish would probably take 2-2 ½ hours (+ or - 25%). Your production times will vary depending upon the size of equipment that you have available. If your billing rate for specialty work to an existing janitorial account were to run $35 an hour, the charge might be over $70 a time (more if you do not provide the janitorial service).

If you are burnishing twice a month, you will probably need to scrub and top coat all the traffic lanes three times a year. A scrub and recoat is needed when the floor begins to show wear that the spray buff, mop-on restorer, or burnishing can’t conceal. The frequency depends on the traffic and the quality of maintenance.

One coat of finish works for light traffic and two coats for heavy. Heavy traffic includes building usage such as equipment and carts being drug across the floor, inadequate door mats, sand from outside the building, lack of plastic chair protectors, insufficient dust mopping, excessive spills and a waiting room with tile. It is safer to quote a scrub and top coat per time and let the customer decide how often they want it performed.

Not knowing what city you are in, or your labor rates, expenses, and required profit margins, it would be difficult to pin point the cost per square foot. Likely it would run in the 14-20 cents a square foot range for a scrub and top coat. An annual or bi-annual strip would likely run in the 28-45 cents range because just moving all the furniture and equipment could take 3 hours. You probably will not be able to use an autoscrubber because exam rooms are typically 10X10.

A flat mop/backpack floor finish applicator will speed up the job and make it much easier. Depending upon the experience of your crew, pre-existing buildup, the size of your equipment, and amount of furniture, expect 4,200 square feet to take up to 14-20 man-hours to strip and finish. Again, all the variables require a sliding scale for pricing, which you must observe first-hand and then decide.
Q. Shoud you use stripper to remove factory seal on new VCT?

A.   Most VCT manufacturers discourage the use of stripper and a strip pad on new installations. Stripper will weaken new adhesive and the black pad will dull the appearance with microscopic scratches.   Armstrong suggests mopping off their Fast Start Factory Finish and then applying finish. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I have never found this to be satisfactory. Years ago I used a neutral floor cleaner on 30,000 sq. ft of new VCT followed by 4 coats of finish. Three months later it all peeled off. Guess who ate the costs of that mistake.

My recommendation would be to machine scrub with a heavy duty floor cleaner and a hog’s hair beige pad or similar. Green, blue or red pads also work, but red can leave colored burn marks when heeling the machine. You want to clean all adhesive (with mild solvent or razor blade pulled toward you) and make sure black marks and scratches are removed before applying the finish. A Doodlebug and scraper will help detail edges where you often find installer pencil marks. 


Our new edition of JanBid Estimating Software can easily and accurately give you all the answers you are looking for.

JanBid has a floor care bid survey that pinpoints all the challenges.  By rating eight different variables on a scale of 1-10, and then entering the score, your price is instantly calculated.  Includes burnishing, scrub and top-coat and deep strip.

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