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- DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE FACILITIES »
- Construction engineer, U.S. Dept. of State »
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Floor Choices for Health Care
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Green Flooring Choices: What's Old is NewPt. 2: Life-Cycle Costs of FlooringPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Showcase: Flooring
Health care settings can pose particular challenges when facility executives are choosing floorcoverings because cleanliness is a paramount concern. Schmidt says that vinyl tile or sheet vinyl are the best solutions in an environment that needs to be cleaned and sterilized. For operating rooms, where infection is an issue, the seams are heat welded so no germs can get in, and the flooring is pulled up the wall four inches.
“The floors have gotten better in the past decade in terms of stain resistance to chemicals and solutions such as betadine, and newer floors do not require waxing,” Schmidt says. “Floorcoverings are continually evolving, with better products with higher indentation factors. Things have gotten more durable, and maintenance has gotten easier. Products have better coatings or finishes on them.”
In the final analysis, each facility executive should do a cost-benefit analysis when choosing a new floor or replacing an old one. Sustainability and safety concerns, cost, durability and aesthetic factors must all be put in the balance to make a sound decision. Why is the floor being replaced? Is it worn out, has the function of the building changed, or is it simply a question of desiring a new look?
“Buy the best quality that you can and be aware that there are differences in quality in any product that you buy,” says Schmidt. “Don’t just look at what you are spending today. Look at what it will cost you over the lifetime of the product in terms of maintenance and repairs. If you put the wrong product in the wrong place, you will wind up spending more money.”
Maryellen Lo Bosco is a freelance writer who lives in Asheville, N.C.