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5 Flooring Specification Mistakes that Interior Designers Must Avoid

Posted on Dec 20, 2017, by Mike Brown

When specifying new commercial flooring for a client, it's essential that you have a good understanding of their desired aesthetic, but also the practical requirements and limitations of the project. Otherwise, you run the risk of specifying a product that is a poor fit for the client's needs, and putting the success of your design project at risk.

We've compiled some of the top flooring specification mistakes, so you can avoid making the same mistakes, and make your upcoming projects a success.

Featured image: Rombourne, Bristol, UK. Design firm: Omni Design Ltd. 

1) Flooring with a Long Lead Time

Project timelines are getting tighter and tighter - especially on new construction projects. Choosing flooring that requires weeks and months to manufacture and dispatch can hold-up the entire project, so it's essential to check the lead time before sharing flooring options with clients - it may be there's something that looks just as great in your preferred manufacturer's quick-ship program.

2) Flooring that's Unsuitable for the Installation Site

High moisture levels can wreak havoc with flooring installations, triggering mold and mildew growth, adhesive breakdown, or even complete flooring failure.

Some types of flooring, such as laminate or solid wood, are particularly susceptible to high moisture levels and liable to warp or bow in damp conditions. However, most types of commercial flooring will have a fail point, where either the flooring or the adhesive is unable to resist the relative humidity levels at the installation site.

Most manufacturers require you to carry out a moisture test prior to installing flooring, to check your chosen products are suitable for installation. However, there's a better option - select flooring that deals with the root cause of moisture problems, and as a result doesn't require moisture testing.

3) Flooring with a Weak Warranty

Flooring warranties can be a bit of a minefield, riddled with technicalities and get-out clauses that make it difficult to know for sure whether or not you're covered in the event of damaged flooring. Even something as simple as a "life-time warranty" has a different meaning from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it's important to vet the manufacturer's warranty package using three important criteria:

  • Feasibility. Are the restrictions laid-out by the warranty actually feasible? Be wary of documentation that requires a completely "dust-free installation site", or specifies that the entire building site needs to be enclosed by doors and windows before flooring installation.
  • Comprehensive cover. There are myriad ways that flooring can fail (we've covered the 11 biggest in this free eGuide), and a good warranty program will protect against a broad range of problems.
  • True "life-time" cover. Warranty programs should last as long as the flooring is installed.

4) Complex Maintenance Requirements

The role your flooring specification will play in an office environment is as much determined by its maintenance requirements as its appearance - especially when complex, hard-to-follow maintenance programs can quickly lead to your flooring choices ending up worn and dirty.

If flooring maintenance was a spectrum, we'd probably find modular carpet at the "easy" end, and vinyl composite tile (VCT) at the other - carpet requires little more than regular vacuuming, but VCT requires regular waxing and polishing to maintain an as-new appearance. If that simply isn't practical for your client, your flooring will find itself on the fast-track to damage and replacement.

Learn more: Which Flooring Tiles are Easiest to Maintain?

5) Not Durable Enough

It's easy to put all your attention into considering how your client's finished space will look, but it's just as important to think about how it will perform over time - and that's where durability comes in.

With some products, aesthetic flexibility comes at the expense of durability, so it's important to find products that offer beautiful, high-quality design. To do that, look for flooring that offers a cushion-backed material; fibers made from nylon type 6,6; and in-built stain and soiling protection.

Learn more: 8 Factors That Affect Carpet Durability

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Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown