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Lost underfoot

Choosing a floor for your offices might seem to be little more than a stylistic exercise but there are important factors to consider. FMJ speaks to industry experts to find out everything you need to know and decide before installing a new floor

Whether you are undergoing a refit, constructing a whole new building or simply doing a little bit of decorating, sooner or later you are going to go head-to-head with what is underfoot. What floor should your new building have? What attributes are necessary for different types of establishment or facility? What benefits can come from something as apparently ordinary as your floors?

We are all aware of the modern trend to examine the effect on staff of every single thing in an office. People strive to find the optimum temperature for creative thought, or the perfect flavour of paint to inspire team work. Of course there has been plenty of similar thought on the subject of floors.

For instance Martin Cotterill, key account manager at Forbo Flooring Systems has the following to say: “The interior design of an office can have a direct effect on workers’ creativity, attitude and job satisfaction and as such, for those that spend the majority of their time office-based, a poor layout, cramped workspaces and insufficient quiet areas can all have a negative effect.

“There are many floor coverings available on the market that can help to create a more engaging or comfortable interior for employees. Providing variety, choice and flexibility, modular floor offerings make it easier to mix and match multiple sizes, styles and formats of products, such as entrance systems, vinyl, linoleum and carpet tiles – enabling complete design freedom for multiple application areas within one project. Indeed, within an office environment there will be a variety of areas that will require different floor coverings to perform to certain needs, and so it is important that floor coverings are selected first and foremost for function, durability and safety.

“From the moment an employee enters a building, an effective entrance matting should be installed. Wet and dry soiling can both create slip hazards and when tracked further into a building it can make interiors look dirty and unattractive. By taking sensible decisions over flooring surfaces and installing an effective entrance system, the potential for slipping can be dramatically reduced. What’s more, by reducing the amount of dirt and moisture being tracked through a building will also have a positive effect on the lifecycle and performance of other floor coverings installed, which in turn will lower ongoing cleaning and maintenance costs.

“Throughout walkways, breakout areas or even kitchen facilities, a practical and durable product such as vinyl or linoleum tiles will be required – providing the ability to cope with the daily footfall and wheel treads it will encounter, whilst providing an attractive aesthetic. However, employers do have a duty of care to protect their employees from unnecessary slips and trips, and so the installation of a safety floor covering will provide optimum protection. What’s more, choosing a safety product that is designed to be easy to maintain and clean will help extend the products’ longevity.

“In meeting rooms or office areas where a more attractive and comfortable environment is required, carpet tiles with inspiring patterns such as soft geometric shapes will certainly make a difference to the feel of a room. The modular format lends itself to a quicker installation time as well as allowing office plans to be easily adapted for future requirements. Furthermore, if any damage occurs to the tiles, they can be easily lifted and replaced without having to replace the entire floor covering.

“Overall, it is important that specifiers understand the significance of specifying the correct floor covering for each particular area of a building, to provide an engaging and safe environment for employees.”

Nora Flooring Systems are also founts of knowledge and advice when it comes to this sort of thing. They know that:

“Architecture defines living spaces – after all, every one of us spends well over 80 per cent of our time in buildings. What is clear, is that the working environment has a considerable influence on the wellbeing and motivation of employees.

“Above all it is the floors, alongside the walls, that are the characterising stylistic elements with varying purposes in aesthetic designs for office and administrative areas. Not only do they have to be hard-wearing, but they also have to be convincing in their design and functionality.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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