Flooring for commercial purposes has to meet many needs – not only must it provide the correct image for the company or organisation and be cost-effective; it must also fulfil the functional needs and practical requirements of day-to-day use.
This can be a tall order so choosing flooring for commercial use requires careful thought and planning.
Thorough consideration must be given to all functional aspects of the flooring – from the amount and type of traffic, level of wear and tear, expected longevity and even impact on health and safety, as well as any special needs – before even beginning to look at samples and choosing styles and colours.
For each different commercial sector, there will be a different aspect relating to flooring choice that they need to focus on.
Many high street shops need to present an attractive interior while at the same time conveying a sense of quality and promoting their image. In fact, the look and feel of a shop can actually influence the amount of time a customer spends browsing inside the shop.
They also need to keep the shop looking clean and neat, despite the constant, heavy foot traffic.
Furthermore, they need to keep the safety and well-being of their customers in mind, particularly as research has shown that 50% of public accidents are caused by slipping and tripping.
Lastly, they need to conform to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and ensure that there is easy transition between the exterior and interior environment. All these demands make the correct choice of flooring vitally important.
One good choice is entrance matting specially designed to remove dirt and moisture at the doorway, thus preventing dirt and water being tracked all over the shop and helping to keep the interior flooring clean.
Offices can have similar problems at their entrances and require similar dirt and moisture trapping matting fitted in their entrance ways.
In addition, offices need to meet and maintain a professional, corporate feel throughout their interior while still adhering to the DDA and Health and Safety rules, such as considering allergy sufferers in the staff, particularly if Carpet is chosen for the floor coverings.
High cleanability of flooring is also important as this maintains a healthy and inviting environment for both staff and visitors. Other things to consider are busy multi-function areas, communal spaces and transition areas like corridors and stairs.
Lastly, acoustics are important in an office and the right flooring can help to maintain a calm, quiet environment more conducive to concentration.
Many modern carpet tiles, specially designed for the corporate environment, are ideal choices for the office.
They provide durability and retain their Colours and Appearance despite heavy foot traffic and regular cleaning. They are also more cost effective than wall-to-wall carpeting.
For the Leisure Sector, such as fitness centres, multi-function halls, crèches and other communal spaces, hygiene and durability are key criteria in the choice of flooring.
Flooring design and construction needs to enable the effective removal of body fats, machine oils, general soiling and deodorisation just by normal cleaning methods. They also need to be able to withstand heavy traffic and other high impact activities.
The DDA requirements need to be taken into account again. And equally importantly, aesthetics need to be considered, with the flooring needing to retain its original appearance despite a constant stream of foot traffic and to have enough variety in colour and styles to create imaginative and appealing environments.
Interiors in the public sector, such as schools, have a special need to conform to DDA requirements and also to follow Health and Safety rules.
However, they too need to maintain an attractive appearance and enhance their image. Thus they need flooring which is safe to walk on, easy to clean, hygienic, long-lasting and also good to look at.
Choosing a truly washable, waterproof floor covering which retains its appearance year after year is a worthwhile investment.
There is now also flooring available which can trap air-borne allergens and ‘lock’ them in until released by cleaning. This can be especially useful in schools where many children can suffer from allergies, such as eczema and asthma.
Commercial flooring needs to work overtime to meet the requirements of durability, hygiene, easy maintenance and appearance retention.
Therefore choosing the right type of flooring should be a careful process and not just an attempt to install the most cost-effective option.