Maintain Control of Maintenance Costs


By: Tim Holcomb

Everyone who has dealt with a church budget knows how hidden nooks and crannies can claim ministry dollars forever. Example: Custodial and maintenance costs. We want to take care of our facilities, but simply cleaning up can cost a lot.

Important: With a little applied common sense and some conscious effort, churches can save maintenance dollars from fiscal no-man’s land. Here are some areas to consider when scheduling, building, or remodeling with maintenance costs in mind.

* Traffic Control
When people use a number of rooms for activities, custodians have a lot of cleanup, which adds to costs. Suggestion: Design easy-maintenance areas, and schedule so that these areas get the most use.


– Rooms designed to handle crowds and heavy use should have easy-maintenance floors and should be close to entrances, eliminating the need to clean up long pathways leading to the rooms.

– Direct people to the high-use areas by such means as signs, barriers, and hallway lighting. Warning: Be careful not to lock exit doors or break other fire codes.

Example: If the youth group plans to play volleyball in the fellowshiphall, tell the group to come to the closest entrance. Close off roomsyou want to be off limits, but don’t chain doors people would need to use as escape exits in an emergency.

– Require that groups fill out a request form to reserve meeting rooms.
Reason: Your maintenance people will know which rooms need to be cleaned.
Also: You can control which spaces will be used.

* Walls and Floors

Some surfaces require more cleaning than others, so it’s important to use easily maintainable materials in high-traffic areas – places where most of the people will be most of the time.

– Walls need to be durable and scrubbable. Paint with a washable paint-something durable that will stand up to repeated scrubbings. Note: A satin finish or semi-gloss enamel is best. As a general rule, the higher the paint’s gloss, the easier it is to clean. Also: Midtone colors (tans, beiges, etc.) hide dirt better than lighter or darker colors. Avoid: Flat-finish paints, since they are difficult to clean.

Advice: Paint your high-traffic areas in a latex or semigloss enamel.
Reason: Oil-based paints cost more and are more difficult to clean up. And they are not much more durable than high-quality latex painted onto a well-prepared surface. Tip: Use an oil-based primer to seal the surface and help
the latex stick.

Important: Higher gloss paints show flaws in your walls. Scarred walls are best covered with a satin (or eggshell) finish, which hides flaws better.

Better: To avoid most of the necessity of scrubbing, build walls in heavy-traffic areas out of hard surfaces. Rock or brick is hard to soil, for instance. Glass or ceramic finishes are easily wiped off.

– Floors can be kept cleaner by devices that remove the dirt before it gets into the building. Example: Grates or ribbed mats at entries remove much of the dirt from people’s shoes. Also: Place removable, washable dust mats
inside entrances to collect more of the dirt and dust. Carpeted entrance areas can have recesses built in for dust mats.

* Cost-Saving Designs

Simple features built into your construction or renovation can save maintenance personnel cleaning time and make your system more efficient. That translates into savings.

Key areas:

– Restrooms. Keep as many of the fixtures off the floor as possible. Reason: This makes the room easier to sweep or mop. Also: Put a drain in the floor to make wet-mopping-and major cleanups – easier.

– Entrances. Two sets of doors with an air lock between saves you money in
two ways:

-The air lock traps hot or cold air, saving heating or cooling costs.

-The air lock traps loose dirt and dust, allowing less of it to enter the building and then have to be removed.

– Frequently replaced items. Fixtures and other items you may need to replace (such as faucets and light bulbs) should be uniform throughout the building. Reasons: This makes repair simpler and lowers the need for storage space, because the maintenance people can stock fewer items.

– Surfaces. The more types of surfaces you have together in one area, the more complicated the cleaning process. Example: A room with carpet, wooden baseboards and cabinets, painted walls and doors, wallpaper accents, and
cloth curtains presents maintenance problems because each surface has its own cleaning needs concerning materials and equipment.

Key idea: To keep cleaning simple and efficient, design rooms with a minimal number of surface types.

* Cost-Conscious Management

Wisely pricing your maintenance materials and carefully choosing your maintenance personnel will also cut maintenance costs.

– Vendors. Try to choose a supplier who will:

-Offer you wholesale prices.

-Agree to pay your shipping costs.

Note: This is the ideal, but it is rare. Alternative method: Be sure to shop for the best price, especially on items ordered in quantity.

Suggestions: Ask church members who purchase like supplies for their businesses to keep you up-to-date on price comparisons.

– See to it that those who buy supplies know how to get the best buys.
Example: A convenience store isn’t the best place to buy paper cups!

– Maintenance personnel. Recruit workers who are skilled in maintenance.
Reason: The greatest savings come through good preventive maintenance.

Suggestion: Give your maintenance people an adequate budget, and assist them in developing their ideas for improving procedures.

Implementing these tips will start your church on the road to cutting maintenance costs – and will cover over some money pits that have devoured sections of the budget.

(The above material appeared in a January/February 1992 issue of Your Church.)
Christian Information Network