When choosing hard flooring for your organization you will need to consider many different factors, such as purchase price, cleaning and maintenance requirements, durability and aesthetics. With many different types of hard flooring available, how do you decide which is the best fit for your organization?
Today I am comparing the four major types of hard flooring and identifying the applications best suited to each flooring type.
1) Natural Hard Flooring
Natural hard flooring such as wood, stone or ceramic can give a space the instant ‘wow factor’. Unfortunately, it does not come cheap, and requires specialist-flooring installers to install which can bump up the cost of installation.
Hardwood flooring in particular requires careful maintenance including varnishing and refinishing to keep it looking its best. The look of natural hard flooring also deteriorates over time: wood gets scuffed, scratched or indented by foot traffic (like high heels) and stone floors can crack or stain.
Stone, Porcelain and ceramic floor is also very cold underfoot, with poor thermal insulating properties, and is very hard – making it dangerous in case of slips and falls, and the surface which is most likely to result in injury.
2) Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT)
Vinyl Composite Tile is a common flooring choice for many organizations by virtue of its low purchase price. However, thanks to years of use in hospital corridors and waiting rooms, the aesthetic of VCT is often associated with cold, sterile environments.
VCT is very durable: with proper care and maintenance VCT flooring can often last a long time. However, that maintenance is very labor-intensive: the surface of the tile is sealed by regular waxing and polishing, which significantly drives up the total cost of ownership.
3) Laminate Flooring
A good quality laminate floor can achieve a similar look to a hardwood floor, at a fraction of the price. It’s also easier to install than hardwood flooring.
However, laminate flooring can be difficult to maintain. By virtue of having a wood powder core, it doesn’t handle moisture very well. Laminate floor can warp, buckle or distort if exposed to too much moisture – such as from wet cleaning or from the subfloor.
Laminate flooring is also noticeably louder than many of the other hard flooring types, with its layers transmitting rather than absorbing sound.
4) Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
LVT offers a wide range of design options, mimicking the look of natural stone or wood, but again at a fraction of the price. Though early LVT was often considered to be very visually flat and plastic looking, thanks to technological developments the look of LVT has vastly improved.
It requires much less maintenance than Vinyl Composition Tiles as there’s no need for waxing or polishing to seal the floor. It also doesn’t have the same clinical association as VCT does as you can get a wider range of looks than with VCT.
Underfoot, LVT has better thermal and acoustic properties than natural hard floors and laminate flooring, being more insulating which can create a better working environment with less ambient noise.
How to Choose the Best Hard Flooring for Your Organization
When choosing hard flooring it’s important that you look beyond purchase price.
Flooring is a purchase decision that your organization will have to live with for 5, 10 or even 20 years so it’s essential to consider how your choice of hard flooring will impact your organization and your colleagues on a daily basis.
It’s essential to weigh up the needs of your organization, considering maintenance, ambient noise, underfoot comfort, aesthetics and durability to take a holistic approach to your hard flooring purchase.