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How to Select Long-Lasting Flooring for a Hospitality Design Project

Posted on Mar 6, 2017, by Mike Brown

When selecting flooring for hospitality interiors, it's important to balance aesthetics with longevity. In a busy hospitality environment, high levels of foot traffic mean that durable flooring is a necessity. Clients may prefer carpet or hard flooring for aesthetic reasons, so today we're sharing how to select long-lasting flooring for both flooring types.

Featured image: Lexus Club, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.


Several factors affect the durability of carpet, and how long it will last in a hospitality setting. We're highlighting the two most important factors in the carpet's construction and one external factor that you can control after installation.

1) Carpet Tile Backing

Tile backing is the most important factor that impacts carpet durability.

There are three main types of modular carpet backing: hard-backed; closed cell cushion-backed; and open cell cushion-backed. Your choice of tile backing will dramatically affect how long your carpet lasts.

In hard-backed tiles, the carpet fibers directly absorb the impact of foot traffic, which damages the fibers and causes the appearance of your carpet to deteriorate. Cushion backing helps to absorb some of the impacts of foot traffic, reducing fiber wear.

The best carpet tiles have open cell cushion backing, which offers better protection than closed cell cushion backing: Instead of breaking down over time, open cell cushioning ‘re-inflates’ after compression, to protect carpet fibers more effectively and for longer than closed cell cushioning.

In a hospitality environment with high levels of foot and wheeled traffic, you will want to select cushion-backed carpet - which offers additional acoustic and comfort benefits over hard-back products.

Free Tip Sheet: 7 Little-Known Hospitality Flooring Specification Tips

2) Design and Color

In a hospitality environment, spills and stained flooring are practically unavoidable. Fortunately, your design choices can go a long way to disguising them.

A light-colored carpet will show spills and stains much more prominently compared with a patterned, darker-colored floor covering. With small stains or spills disguised by patterning, your carpet will look like new for longer.

3) Cleaning and Maintenance

Visitors and employees will bring in dust and dirt on their shoes. Left unchecked, this dirt can be pressed into the carpet, where it acts like sandpaper and grinds away at the carpet fibers, damaging them and causing your carpet's appearance to deteriorate.

By investing in a tiered entry system, you can prevent up to 80% of dirt, dust and debris from being brought onto your carpet in the first place. Entry flooring systems combine tough scraper mats with absorbent textile products to remove the majority of dirt and moisture from shoes as visitors walk into the building.

Additionally, most of the dust and dirt that gets past your tiered entry system will be successfully removed with regular vacuuming. Combining regular cleaning with a tiered entry system is the best way to protect your carpet against wear and tear, and keep it looking its best, long after it is initially installed.

Hard Flooring

Hard flooring is perceived as extremely durable and long-lasting, making it ideal for busy hospitality settings. However, not all hard flooring is equally suited. Some types of hard flooring last longer than others, and as with all flooring, proper care and maintenance is essential.

Type of Hard Flooring

There are four major types of hard flooring:

  • Natural hard flooring - Wood or stone flooring looks fantastic when new. Unfortunately, it's notoriously difficult to maintain and prone to scuffs, scratches and stains, which compromise its appearance. People often assume that natural hard flooring will be very long-lasting, but without proper maintenance it's appearance can deteriorate quickly.
  • Vinyl composite tile (VCT) - This is an uncommon choice for hospitality settings. Its common use in healthcare environments gives it a cold and sterile association. However, with proper maintenance it's extremely durable and long-lasting, though the maintenance requirements for VCT are extensive, costly and time consuming.
  • Laminate flooring - This is a popular choice as it mimics the look of natural wood flooring, without the substantial cost. Unfortunately, it is susceptible to warping and distorting, as it has a powdered wood core that doesn't react well to moisture.
  • Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) - LVT offers a wide range of design options, mimicking the look of natural hard flooring (often at a fraction of the cost). It is also much easier to maintain than stone or wood flooring and VCT. The durability of LVT is primarily determined by the thickness of its wear layer, which protects the printed surface of the tile against foot traffic, wheeled traffic, scuffs and stains. As a general rule, the thicker the wear layer, the longer LVT will last.

The best option for long-lasting hard flooring in a hospitality project will be LVT with an appropriate wear layer thickness. Other types of hard flooring require extensive maintenance to ensure their longevity; however, LVT, with its protective clear wear layer, is much easier to maintain and will last just as long as other types of hard flooring.

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Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown