Resilient Flooring Options: Improved Design Appeal and Performance
By Karen Kroll - February 2011 - Flooring
Facility managers looking for a workhorse among floor coverings typically focus on hard-surface or resilient systems, a category that includes tile, wood, rubber and linoleum. "Durability and maintenance are the drivers for hard surfaces," says Jayson Koback, senior designer with the design and architecture firm, Nelson Architectural Design Group.
In health care, for instance, Tara McGrath, a senior interior designer with Ewing Cole, considers only flooring materials that she's confident will last as long as the building itself. That typically means hard-surface floors. Even though health care facilities often are renovated every seven to 10 years, "flooring is one surface that, unless something is wrong, they don't do anything," says McGrath, a specialist in health care design. Many health care facilities are in use 24/7, so ripping out and installing a new floor is even more challenging than it is in other buildings.
Another attribute that may tip the scales to hard-surface flooring is its "cleanability," says Iris Dates, vice president and director of design, health care interiors with HKS. This also is key in health care settings, where infection control is a primary concern.
In fact, the focus on infection control has taken on increased importance. Several years ago, Medicare announced that the agency wouldn't reimburse health care organizations when patients need treatment as a result of infections or other dangerous conditions they acquired while in the hospital. "Hospitals are doing everything within their power to keep their hospitals immaculate," Dates says.
What's more, the monolithic nature of some hard-surface flooring systems allows for easy mobility of wheeled office and medical equipment.
While function tends to be the driver in many facilities in which hard-surface flooring is installed, that's not to say that design considerations are irrelevant or unobtainable. In fact, designers say the industry has been pushing the boundaries when it comes to improving both the look and performance of many hard-surface and resilient-flooring products.