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How Your Choice of Restaurant Flooring can Influence Ambiance

Posted on Feb 13, 2017, by Mike Brown

A welcoming, comfortable environment is essential for attracting and keeping loyal customers, and the ambience of an interior can make or break a restaurant.

It may come as a surprise to realize that your choice of flooring makes one of the most significant contributions to the ambiance of a restaurant. Flooring covers the entirety of your space, and has a noticeable impact on guests' first impressions.

So how exactly does your choice of flooring affect restaurant ambiance?Free Tip Sheet: 7 Little-Known Hospitality Flooring Specification Tips

1) Acoustics

Flooring has an often unrecognized impact on indoor acoustics. Hard surfaces, such as natural wood or laminate flooring, elevate background noise levels by increasing sound reverberation. In an open dining area, with no walls to block sound, hard flooring allows noise to reverberate throughout the entire space, creating a loud, uncomfortable dining experience.

In contrast, incorporating more soft surfaces throughout a space reduces sound reverberation. Installing carpet rather than hard flooring will make an immense difference to the noise levels in your restaurant: Hard-back carpet absorbs 3x more noise than hard flooring, and carpet with cushion backing absorbs 50% more noise than hard-back carpet.


Therefore, if you're trying to create a stress-free, pleasant dining experience where guests can enjoy their meal over several courses, installing carpet will greatly improve the ambiance in your restaurant - with cushion-backed carpet making the biggest difference overall.

2) Cleanliness

In a restaurant environment, spills are inevitable - whether it's a glass of wine or a few crumbs dropped by each guest. Stained and dirty floors create a less than desirable first impression for visitors, so your flooring needs to be stain-resistant and easy to maintain.

Different flooring types have various cleaning and maintenance requirements. Essentially, hard flooring will require daily sweeping and mopping to remove dirt and dried-on stains, whereas carpet will require daily vacuuming, and you may need to apply topical carpet cleaner in areas where dirt isn't removed by vacuuming alone.

However, dark-colored, patterned carpet can disguise a multitude of sins, hiding small stains without compromising the aesthetics of your restaurant. Even better, if you've installed modular carpet, you can replace individual damaged tiles, swapping out a stained tile for one from your attic stock, keeping your flooring looking like new.

3) First Impressions

The entrance of a restaurant has a significant impact on any visitor's first impression - but this role extends beyond aesthetics and ambiance alone. With so much footfall into and out of a restaurant, dirt and moisture carried in from outside can quickly build up, soiling and even damaging your floors.

Installing a tiered entryway system, making use of scraper mats and absorbent textiles, will prevent up to 80% of dust, dirt and moisture from ever making it into your restaurant. With a growing range of attractive, design coordinated options, as well as branded logo mats, your can create an entryway that is a feature design element of your restaurant.

4) Aesthetics

In addition to impacting cleanliness and acoustics, flooring is integral to the design and aesthetics of your restaurant. Flooring covers the entirety of a restaurant interior and can have as much of a visual impact as furniture or tableware.

While hard flooring such as natural stone or wood is often considered to have the most striking visuals, it's unlikely to be worth compromising on your restaurant acoustics to achieve that look. Other hard flooring options offer improved acoustics and create a similar aesthetic statement; luxury vinyl tile mimics the look of natural stone or wood, but its layered construction makes it better at sound absorption.

Alternatively, you can create a very different, but still aesthetically striking, look by selecting carpet instead of hard flooring. Advances in print technology for carpet tiles has increased design flexibility: It is now possible to create a wider range of colors, textures and patterns than ever before. It is even possible for some manufacturers to create custom patterns and designs, or to produce a custom version of an existing carpet design - for example, using Milliken's proprietary digital dye infusion technology.

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Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown