How to Select the Right Material For Commercial Flooring Applications
Functionality is generally the most important criteria when it comes to commercial flooring. Design and aesthetics are often replaced by practicality. The trend is slowly shifting these days as more and more commercial companies are exploring ways to incorporate sanitary, stain-resistant surfaces that also have style.
Types of Materials Available
Function is the highest priority with a majority of commercial flooring installations. Even the most luxurious floors will wear down under heavy foot traffic and can become damaged and ruined. Commercial floors are also cleaned on a nightly basis and must be easy to scrub with minimal maintenance.
The following materials meet the criteria for durability and offer unique design options:
Perhaps no commercial flooring option provides as much style as terrazzo. The material incorporates the popular mosaic design trend with marble chips embedded into concrete. Terrazzo can also be embedded with glass, pearl, or metallic for a bright shine and a unique, customizable appearance. The end result is a life-lasting floor that is easy to maintain but also stylish – a triple threat.
In many commercial situations, carpet isn’t feasible. In hospital and schools, carpet is risky because it absorbs allergens and bacteria. In office and retail spaces, carpet can easily become soiled by shoes and heavy traffic. Full carpet rolls are also costly to replace once damaged or worn.
Carpet does have its appeal, though. It makes a space feel warm and inviting, and is soft under the feet. This is where carpet tiles come in. Carpet tiles have all the benefits of carpet without the expense and associated risks. They usually install in 18” X 18” squares that can easily be replaced.
In high traffic areas there’s really no substitute for concrete’s durability. Unfortunately, bland concrete doesn’t do much to improve the aesthetics of a building. This is not as much of a problem for a manufacturing plant as it is for a shopping mall. Concrete is usually already in place in the building’s foundation. By polishing the surface to a fine grit and then staining or adding embedded aggregate before sealing with a protective coat, concrete can be transformed into a smooth and polished surface.
Resilient floors are a heavily engineered polymer product with a long lifespan. Typically vinyl but also consisting of linoleum, cork, or rubber, resilient floors are durable to stains and damage. They also provide a good level of comfort when walking and standing.
Although it is more prone to damage than other types of flooring, the benefits of rubber greatly outweigh the risks of a hole or cut. Rubber floors offer padding, which is ideal for employees who are on their feet for extended periods of time. Rubber also absorbs sound in louder facilities and can be a good option when extreme quiet is necessary, such as with telemarketing facilities. To solve any damage risks, rubber can be installed in tiles for easy replacement when worn or damaged.
While function often reigns supreme in commercial flooring settings, there are times when luxury sells. Perhaps the most immaculate of all flooring other than marble is natural stone. Stone flooring costs are much higher than other flooring choices, so careful consideration should be given to its benefits. For luxury auto dealerships or high-end hotels, a stone floor may help attract targeted customer demographics and lead to increased income potential.
Industry Guidelines For Choosing Flooring
The trick with commercial flooring is knowing how to implement it on an industry-by-industry basis. Some businesses such as food services and hospitals have codes that mandate specific flooring types. On the other hand, businesses without specified requirements run the risk of selecting a floor that may negatively affect productivity (picture rubber floors in a forklift-populated warehouse).
Each management team will need to weigh the pros and cons of all flooring options to determine which application best suits their business. Below are some guidelines to follow for common commercial industries:
Healthcare: The ultimate goal for healthcare flooring is that it is safe and sanitary. In addition to the actual surface material to be used, another thing to consider is the method of installation. Any flooring type with seams presents a hard-to-clean hiding spot for bacteria and germs, so seamless flooring is a must. Polished concrete or terrazzo epoxy are ideal flooring options for the healthcare industry. Their smooth surfaces can incorporate colors and designs that can provide a relaxed, calming environment for patients. Coating terrazzo and polished concrete surfaces with anti-slip grit sealers provide the ideal combination of functionality, safety and aesthetics for hospitals and care facilities.
Education: Flooring for educational facilities needs to be both stain-resistant and sound-absorbing. Heavy footsteps and squeaking floors will disrupt the learning process. Resilient flooring is a nice option here. It’s soft to walk on, easy to clean, and quiet. Terrazzo is another consideration.
Retail: Retail flooring should prioritize comfort for their customers. Both the feel of the surface and the overall appearance of the space are important factors. Consider installing unique stone or hardwood floors to make a lasting impression.
Office Spaces: In order to maximize employee productivity, office spaces need to be both quiet and inviting at the same time. Office flooring also needs to clean easily on a nightly basis. Carpet tiles are a very comfortable option for office settings as they absorb sound and are soft to walk on. They can also be vacuumed easily and replaced in heavy traffic areas when damaged.
The Big Picture of Costs
A major factor at play with commercial flooring is cost. But up-front costs should be weighed with performance and lifespan. Flooring options such as terrazzo and polished concrete will only need to be installed once. Seemingly less expensive options can become damaged beyond repair on a bi-annual basis, which would make them more expensive options in the long run.