Flooring for the commercial sector has to satisfy many widely-differing needs, often simultaneously – depending on the industry involved.
It is not unusual for a floor to need to be attractive, easy to maintain, durable, resistant to strong chemicals and still be cost-efficient!
With floors having to do double, sometimes triple or even quadruple duty, it is difficult to find a certain type to fit all needs, but here are some popular choices.
Concrete is used more in the Industrial Sector although it is also rapidly gaining popularity with designers for use in interiors to deliver an edgy, industrial look (e.g. for trendy clothing stores or restaurants).
It can be stained and etched into a variety of attractive colours and designs. Concrete is incredibly durable, strong and long-lasting, although it can be hard underfoot and so not ideal if many employees are to be standing all day.
It is also extremely cost-effective which makes it a popular choice for areas which may not need to convey a premium image.
Note, it is porous so must be covered with a protective sealant in order to protect against staining and damage from chemicals, as well as general wear and tear.
Laminate and Vinyl
Probably one of the top choices, particularly in the retail sector but also for offices and leisure facilities, such as restaurants, laminate and Vinyl offer a wonderful combination of practicality and aesthetics.
On the one hand, they are durable, stain and moisture resistant, easy to clean and insulating underfoot but at the same time, they do not compromise in the attractiveness stakes.
Laminate and vinyl come in an enormous variety of colours and patterns, not to mention wonderful replications of other flooring materials, such as marble, stone and hardwood.
This last characteristic, alone, makes them popular as they offer an affordable way to achieve a more luxurious look on a limited budget.
For example, laminates are a fantastic alternative to real hardwood floors; easier to maintain and much cheaper to install. If budget is not a problem, there also ranges of luxurious vinyl that inevitably come with a higher price tag.
Again, a popular choice for the industrial sector but also in great use in the leisure industry, rubber flooring is used particularly for exercise and sporting facilities. It is also favoured in the public sector, such as in schools and hospitals.
Rubber Flooring is naturally hygienic, water-proof, cushioning, insulating, easy to clean, stain-resistant and very, very durable, coping well in areas in high traffic and heavy impact.
It does lose slightly in the sophistication stakes but there are some situations where its basic, industrial look is actually desired.
Carpet is mainly used in offices and high-end stores and other leisure facilities (e.g. hotels, spas), carpet gives an unsurpassed feeling of luxury and class but can be difficult to maintain in high traffic areas or under constant, heavy impact. It is also vulnerable to staining and moisture, particularly if a light colour is chosen.
Nevertheless, it is still a popular choice, particularly in colder climates. It is also one of the best insulators against sound, which can be vitally important in some situations (e.g. hotels).
In some situations, carpet tiles can be a better choice as it offers the look and feel of carpet but is more affordable and easier to install and replace any damaged or stained sections, with minimal disruption to business.
Naturally, other types of flooring can also be used in commercial settings. Hardwood, for example, is frequently used, despite its higher maintenance as it has an unparalleled timeless beauty and lends a feeling of ‘quality and value’ to the premises.
Ceramic tile is also popular, particularly in eating establishments, as it is one of the easiest types of flooring to clean and maintain, as well as being waterproof.
Many businesses nowadays are also opting for environmentally-friendly flooring to promote their ‘green’ image and so may choose floor covering such as cork, bamboo and linoleum for their recyclable properties, their use of renewable resources and their promotion of a healthier working environment.