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Not only has the use of hard-surface flooring grown, but so has the number of flooring products, each with its set of characteristics. To help you determine the product that is best for your needs, here is a brief look at rubber, linoleum, cork, bamboo, stone, ceramic, terrazzo, and concrete.
RUBBER. Rubber has gained in popularity over the years as a more mainstream product in commercial installations. Today, it is being used extensively in healthcare and educational facilities.
Rubber flooring is very similar to vinyl; however, it is often more resilient, comfortable, quiet, and softer. It possesses high performance characteristics in tile and sheet form. What's important for facility managers to know about a rubber product is the source for the material. There are several manufacturers who offer excellent products, technical support, installation training, and maintenance guidelines, and you should stick with these companies that specialize in this area. Buying a product that doesn't have a strong track record can give you trouble from the outset. You could be faced with installation challenges and performance characteristics that can doom the flooring to failure before you get any service from it.
LINOLEUM. The new generation of linoleum flooring materials, also in tile and sheet form, have seen sizeable growth due in part to the desire to source green products. Linoleum is made from natural materials like linseed oil, wheat flour, cork dust, and limestone. This product has some unique characteristics relative to coloration and the way that exposure to light affects appearance; for example, when covered, it will become darker, though this can be reversed by exposure to light. It is also essential to follow proper maintenance procedures. You cannot get this product sopping wet during maintenance or it will curl up off the floor; this is not a product problem but a maintenance issue for which you will be solely responsible.
CORK, BAMBOO, AND WOOD. Cork flooring also falls into the green category as a natural, renewable material. While this product has been around for decades as a flooring material, it requires specific installation methods, preparation for use, and maintenance. And while we're talking about green flooring, we have to include wood and bamboo, which are also natural and renewable. In a commercial application there are limitations on the use of these products, especially if you choose a wood species that does not have high-performance characteristics. Wood flooring is susceptible to changes in environmental conditions, and it can scratch and dent more easily than other forms of hard surface flooring.
STONE AND CERAMIC. Stone and ceramic flooring are other options for hard surface flooring, but these materials may not offer the slip resistance, comfort, and quiet that other hard surface flooring materials provide. They can also be significantly more expensive. However, when it comes to offering unique styling, stone and ceramic, which includes porcelain, may be just the product for a particularly special fashion statement.
TERRAZZO. Another hard surface option is terrazzo flooring or tile. Terrazzo tile is set in place, while true terrazzo flooring is poured in place. This is permanent flooring that can be configured and designed in a myriad of variations. Terrazzo is the epitome of longevity when it comes to flooring.
CONCRETE. When nothing else will work, especially if there are extenuating substrate conditions such as high moisture levels or decades-old concrete that won't support a floorcovering, one solution may be to polish or finish the existing concrete to a smooth finish. And here you have options as well — it can be finished as it exists, ground and sealed, or have stains and dyes applied by skilled craftsmen to create whatever pattern one chooses before sealing it.
Find Best Flooring for Your Needs: Rubber, Linoleum, and More