Room Guide for Flooring and Coatings in a Commercial Building

07/31/2019 | By Nate Wolff and Brenda Knowles

Flooring and coatings are two building products that make a big impact on how people perceive a space. It’s important to look for products that can stand up to the levels of wear these surfaces undergo.

Specifying the latest technologies will reduce the need for touch-ups, repaints or flooring replacement, as well as ensure a building looks great for years.

The emotional impact of color is now more widely understood, giving color development new importance. Designers are turning to gradients to create “new colors,” something refreshing, energizing and eye-catching, combining multiple hues to create something new.

Along with color, texture and pattern play key roles in shaping how a space makes users feel—calm and soothing, vibrant and energetic or any range of emotions in between.

From high-traffic hotel lobbies to employee breakrooms, here are some other important features designers and architects should look for when selecting coatings and flooring for every space in a commercial building.

[On topic: How to Navigate a Wayfinding Redesign]

Lobbies and Common Areas

The lobby and common space are typically the first places a visitor or occupant sees when entering, so it’s important to make an impact. They should be greeted with areas that are welcoming and beautiful while still being functional.

Achieve a specific design aesthetic that will set the tone for the rest of the building’s spaces in cost-effective ways by leveraging the capabilities of flooring and coatings.

1. Use color in unexpected ways in lobbies and common areas to draw attention toward specific zones, helping visitors navigate the space easily and increase visual interest without adding significant costs to the project.

2. Consider coating attributes. Look for durable paints with high washability and hide. For fast-turn, easy maintenance and to eliminate spot-priming, use a stain-blocking paint and primer in one to help block against common stains such as grease, grime, food and cigarette smoke.

Create a seamless look by choosing a hard surface product with a 5mm construction, which allows for installation alongside carpet without transition strips.

[On topic: Fast Flooring For Changing Spaces]

Today’s carpet tile styles offer various colors and innovative looks. Resilient and LVT styles include realistic hardwood and stone visuals. These floors offer various dimensions and graphics inspired by biophilic design trends—bringing the outdoors in to create a sense of calm and well-being. 

Breakrooms and Cafeterias

Breakrooms and cafeterias often become the go-to hub for social gatherings. This means higher levels of traffic and increased wear on materials.

Selecting a higher-gloss finish or a technically advanced washable flat allows for frequent cleaning while maintaining a uniform appearance.

For the walls, look for coatings that resist food stains, wash easily and resist high moisture levels. Additionally, consider a coating that helps reduce ambient odors of organic origin, like tough, lingering odors from cooking, smoke and pets.

Choose a waterproof resilient flooring for a cost-effective, attractive solution for spills and accidents. Use a luxury vinyl plank to create a hard surface that will flow seamlessly between spaces.

A variety of vibrant and muted shades in carpet tile and hard surface can aid in navigating spaces and support open environments while creating a sense of functionality across spaces. For durability, look for a product with a high wear layer and PSI.

Bathrooms, Spas and Gyms

Water and mildew resistance are key attributes for a bathroom or wellness area.

Whether it’s designing a gym for college students or creating an oasis for guests at a boutique hotel spa, the space can remain in top condition by selecting durable products that stand the test of time.

Consider a waterproof luxury vinyl tile (LVT) for floors. Its protection against water and durability are needed, and its natural stone and hardwood visuals can be coordinated with other design elements.

For walls, pick a coating that provides high levels of resistance to moisture and water-spotting. Find a paint formulated with antimicrobial agents to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the paint surface and prevent the growth of bacterial odors.

Applying the right product in these spaces can also achieve a faster return to service and fewer repaints.

Patient Rooms, Offices and Classrooms

Employees, visitors and students should feel at ease in the spaces they spend the most time. The right products and specifications can help create a beautiful and comfortable refuge, allowing them to focus and relax.

[Related: Tips for Indoor Painting Projects in Occupied Buildings]

Air quality has continued to grow in importance to people everywhere. Here are 3 healthy options:

1. Specifying a coating with zero VOCs or one that meets the most stringent VOC requirements

2. Products that have achieved GREENGUARD GOLD Certification, meaning the product is certified to GREENGUARD standards for low chemical emissions into indoor air during product usage

3. Products with reduced formaldehyde for better indoor air quality by reducing airborne concentrations of formaldehyde and other aldehydes

Consider coatings that are highly washable with stain-blocking properties, as well as resistant to marks and burnishing.

Modular flooring—whether carpet tile or LVT—continues to grow in popularity throughout commercial environments because of the ease of installation and maintenance and the ability to create a wide range of designs to support wayfinding, corporate branding and other aesthetic priorities.

Selecting a single-source flooring provider can help ensure that the products coordinate effortlessly and optimize the design. When selecting the ideal flooring for your space, look for third-party certifications that align with your sustainability objectives, including:

  • Cradle to Cradle Certified
  • FloorScore
  • CRI Green Label Plus
  • GREENGUARD GOLD

Enhance the Experience Through Flooring and Coatings

Paint and flooring technologies have come a long way, particularly in the solutions provided for commercial buildings. Different products provide different combinations of performance features and aesthetics.

Selecting the right products can have a significant effect on visitor and client satisfaction and durability of a space, as well as long-term savings in cost and labor for professionals.

Considering the uses and needs of the people using the finished building will help you select functional yet beautiful coatings and flooring products that help enhance the user’s experience.

About the Authors:

Nate Wolff is director of marketing, commercial markets, at Sherwin-Williams; and Brenda Knowles is vice president of commercial marketing and product development at Shaw Industries.

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