Maximizing ROI: Choosing Flooring for Long-Term Performance
Flooring needs to be understood as a complex system.
When evaluating the cost of a flooring project, building owners should consider first cost vs. the total cost of ownership for how the product will be maintained and the long-term cost to maintain it by the owner over the useable life, which will impact future capital expenses.
“Materials that offer a longer lifespan and eliminate the need for floor finish, for example, may require a higher initial investment but will reduce the associated person-hours to maintain, with an actionable impact on operational optimization and efficiency,” says Sandra Soraci, healthcare segment director for Tarkett SA.
Budgets, however, should not be the sole criterion when considering a purchase.
Flooring is “the grounding point of design,” Soraci says, “so it’s important to examine how flooring solutions can support the specific needs of the space. The most common mistake is working with the lowest bidder, rather than examining the needs of the space and which flooring will provide the greatest long-term performance to meet those needs.”
Flooring needs to be understood as a complex system, not a finish, from the subfloor to the surface finish.
With any commercial flooring project, the first step is to understand the intended purpose of each space and the resulting performance attributes needed to support that purpose. These requirements and priorities will vary greatly by space and segment, such as infection control in acute healthcare spaces, softened acoustics in office settings, and simplified long-term maintenance in learning environments.
“With any project, there will be multiple requirements to balance,” Soraci says. “Once there is a solid understanding of the functional needs of each space and which of these features and benefits are most important, designers and flooring contractors can begin to recommend the right product for the right space.”
Managers should also realize that success starts with a well-written specification and product selection. The advantage of selling a flooring system vs. a flooring product, “is simple,” Soraci says.
“With a flooring system customers get long-term performance for better return on their investment,” Soraci adds. “Adhesives are part of the flooring system, with technical support and training, and subfloor prep, to minimize mobilizations and foster speed to occupancy. Ultimately, this saves time, money, labor resources, and materials.”
Soraci calls it “so important” to select healthy materials that will contribute to the overall wellness of the space and the people who work, heal or learn there. In addition to sustainable solutions that minimize environmental impact, material choices should contribute to better indoor air quality and avoid the use of harmful chemicals, such as per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) and ortho-phthalates.
“To avoid superficial, greenwashed claims, look for manufacturers that provide transparent documentation of their product ingredients and third-party assessments that support sustainability claims,” she adds. These include CDP, Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), Cradle to Cradle, and EcoVadis.
Howard Riell is a freelance writer from Henderson, Nevada.