Amtico Commercial Marketing Manager Louisa Eyles explains how the latest flooring products can be used to aid zoning and wayfinding in open-plan commercial spaces
Flooring is one of many products that can bring a touch of style and quality to a commercial environment, whether as a neutral backdrop that lets other furnishings do the talking or as a design statement in its own right. With the shift towards open-plan environments, flooring is increasingly used to introduce pattern, visual interest and colour in the absence of dividing walls or partitions. Flooring can help to delineate zones or neighbourhoods, and act as a wayfinding guide, highlighting routes through the space.
The colour and pattern of flooring can also contribute towards the mood of an environment, creating an emotional response in the individual ¬– perhaps a sense of excitement or a relaxed, comfortable feeling, complementing the function, identity or branding of the building.
Given the wealth of choice when it comes to flooring materials, it’s important to make the right selection to suit the intended use. For commercial premises, design and aesthetics should be balanced with practicality. Luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) can simulate the appeal of natural textures, such as wood or stone, while providing durability and additional specialist properties – including sound reduction, slip resistance, and antimicrobial protection.
LVT allows for creative design while withstanding heavy traffic and resisting scuffs, scratches and stains. It maintains its appearance for years after installation, which helps to explain why it is overtaking ceramics and timber as the flooring material of choice. In addition to being easy to maintain, LVT is naturally warm underfoot and has softer acoustics than a ceramic or timber surface, helping to create a more relaxing ambience within office, healthcare or hospitality environments.
LVT lends itself to laying patterns, in which colours, shapes and designs can be combined to create striking effects. Highly decorative LVT flooring can be used to bring character and visual interest to zoned areas, with laying patterns used to mark out multifunctional space. The floor can be seen as a canvas, starting with a base pattern and colour palette that blends into complementary patterns and hues to distinguish specific areas. Colourful, decorative flooring can also be used as a contrast, perhaps to enliven breakout or social space.
Another way to create zoning is to combine LVT with carpet tiles. In the past, this was difficult to achieve seamlessly without a series of thresholds between the two materials, causing a potential trip hazard and impairing the cohesion and balance of the overall scheme. To achieve the desired blend of functionality and aesthetics, it’s important to work with a flooring company that can provide a range of different materials and types of flooring. This gives designers a freer hand to create their effects, softening or zoning specific areas without disrupting the overall scheme.
Essential factors to consider when specifying LVT and carpet tiles are much the same: colour, pattern, texture, location and expected footfall. The durability of LVT flooring requires particular consideration as not all products are the same. The key element to look for is the thickness of the wear layer, as this will often determine the longevity of a product.
Ultimately, the most important factor is who is going to be using the space. While lighting, furniture and facilities all play their part, the right choice of floor product goes a long way to meeting the practical needs of the building and its occupants.