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The perfect floor

The Specifier’s Guide to Flooring, which was launched in May during Clerkenwell Design Week, is a guide intended to help FMs, designers, architects and specifiers with their installations

It’s not always easy being a Facilities Manager. There are so many areas of responsibility that few FMs can be blamed for wondering where to start with respect to a new installation. One responsibility sometimes regarded as an unsexy part of an FM’s job is flooring – whether that’s in gyms, hospitals, nursing homes, retail locations, schools or universities. But now help is at hand.

The Specifier’s Guide to Flooring is packed with information from manufacturers in every sector of flooring, from acoustic vinyl and adhesives to carpet tiles, cork, linoleum, resin and solid hardwood flooring. Below are five examples of the types of flooring covered in the guide as well as the advice offered by the authors.

According to David Carter, Sport Marketing and Communications Manager for Gerflor, although premium budgets are available for a wide range of sports flooring, it’s important to weigh up quality and cost. “Flooring may seem expensive at first,” he writes, “but when you consider the value of the floor underneath and the equipment and people it’s there to protect, you’ll easily realise it’s a necessary expense that should be seen as an investment.”

It’s also critical, advises Carter, to not just consider the initial cost of the flooring but the usage of each zone and the lifespan of the flooring. “Some flooring may be more expensive but could last twice as long, thus working out as a less expensive option over the product’s lifetime.”

He concludes: “Making that shift in mindset isn’t too difficult, but it does require research. You’ll need to do your homework when specifying your sports flooring project, which means doing more than just reading reviews, and learning which types of reviews to trust.”

Reclaimed wood is generating immense interest, no doubt a combination of its intensely interesting appearance and ecologically sound credentials, notes Tony Lorenz, Global Chief Marketing Officer for Havwoods. But, he adds, traditional timber can be a risky specification since supplies are often unreliable and the lack of uniformity makes installation a lengthier, and therefore costlier process, as well as contributing to high levels of waste.

At Havwoods, reclaimed timbers are planed, profiled and sanded using 21st century production techniques so they may be confidently specified for any residential or commercial application. “As a general rule – and for obvious reasons – the more processes involved in producing a finished board, the greater the cost,” explains Lorenz. “But, with reclaimed timber, the extent of this work is exacerbated by the initial search for suitable material.”

“It’s important for any flooring specifier to understand what layers make up the product they’re intending to use as part of a project,” says Paul Barratt, Managing Director of Karndean Designflooring.

“LVT is a multilayer product that builds to create a highly durable flooring surface,” he writes. The combination of layers (clear PVC-embossed wearlayer; K-Guard+ surface protection; high definition photographic layer; and backing layer) creates a flooring product that has many benefits against traditional flooring materials. Starting from the base layer, where it’s formed to bond with an adhesive and adhesive to the subfloor, to the top PU coating for added durability and easy maintenance, eradicating the need to seal the product post-installation.

The wearlayer, Barratt explains, is a hardwearing but transparent layer embossed with a texture for grip-and-effect. “It’s only registered embossed products which emulate the exact image beneath. For example, you not only see but feel knots and textures. The thickness of the wearlayer ultimately determines the overall performance of the floor, and therefore the thicker the wearlayer, the longer the floor will last.”

The authenticity of each design comes from the photographic film layer, which is based on the original wood or stone materials, says Barratt. “Specifiers should look to suppliers who invest heavily in their design process to guarantee an authentic finish.”

Tom Rollo, Marketing Manager of Polyflor, says sheet vinyl is an incredibly versatile flooring option which is available in a vast number of colours, designs and specifications, offering specifiers a solution to suit almost any project they’re working on.

“As both a high performance and high design product, sheet vinyl flooring can be functional and practical, as well as a stand-out design feature in an interior scheme. As the market develops, further advancements are being made to diversity of the sheet vinyl products available to cater to the demands of modern interior design projects and the expectations of clients.”

With a multitude of building materials at an architect’s or specifier’s disposal, commercial sheet vinyl has had to evolve into a high-performance product and a design-led flooring option worthy of consideration for education, healthcare, office, retail environments and more, notes Rollo.

“Specifiers need to consider the use of a space before selecting a suitable sheet vinyl floorcovering,” says Rollo. “How much foot traffic will there be? Is enhanced slip resistance required? Is impact sound an issue in this building? What design will work with this interior design scheme? The sheet vinyl flooring market offers flooring solutions to these requirements a specifier has on their checklist, and there are various vinyl flooring types for them to choose from.”

“Why does a floorcovering, invented more than 100 years ago, still have a place in modern-day specification?” asks Elizabeth C Butcher, Tarkett’s Segment Marketing Manager for Healthcare and Education. “Linoleum’s resurgence has its roots in what first made this flooring so popular – its practicality, value and the aesthetic appeal of a natural, modern material.”

A broad palette of colours and patterns helps linoleum add style to interior design, wherever people live or work, Butcher points out.

“Innovation is creating new uses in specialist environments like operating theatres, and a commitment to sustainability ensures greener manufacturing plus a more recyclable product,” says Butcher. “Linoleum is as relevant today as the day it first emerged.”

About Sarah OBeirne


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