Why Use Specialty Floors?

April 3, 2006
These floors can transform an ordinary interior into an extraordinary, exciting, and more profitable space

There are spaces where specialty floors (floorcoverings that have enhanced physical characteristics and unique properties to fulfill the needs of special spaces and niche areas) must be used, either by law or municipal guidelines. But the number of spaces where specialty floors could be used goes beyond the obvious. Innovative specifiers and end-users are catching up to the benefits of using specialty flooring in many areas throughout a facility. These floors can transform an ordinary interior into an extraordinary, exciting, and more profitable space. Recommended places and spaces for specialty floors include:

Where compliance to legislation and municipal guidelines mandate specialty building materials. Floorcoverings in many public buildings must have special performance features. For example, to meet guidelines established by the ADA, slip-resistant floors must be installed in handicapped-accessible spaces. Slip resistance is described in terms of coefficient of friction (COF) ratings, with level surfaces needing a COF of 0.6 and ramps needing a COF of 0.8. And, in a growing number of municipalities nationwide, using green building materials, including flooring, is mandated. This may include everything from floor ingredients acquisition to floor disposal and/or recycling programs.

Where improving the facility ergonomics can attract more tenants. Instead of defaulting to basic floorcoverings to make a facility more neutral for general use, many facilities managers turn the scenario upside down and install specialty floorcoverings that add value and unique features to make the space more desirable. These include cushioned floorcoverings for workers who must spend hours standing in one position or area. It also includes acoustic floors that make the workplace more effective by controlling overall sound transmission and absorption, and contribute to sound clarity and privacy in cubicle environments. When a space is designed with special value-added features, you can attract more stable, “higher-rent” tenants in a competitive market.

Where an upgraded floorcovering can actually save money. Specialty floors may have an initial cost increase for purchase and installation, but this premium pales in comparison to the total cost savings that can be demonstrated when you specify and install these products. For example, insurance premiums may be reduced when floors contribute to occupant health and safety. These include slip-resistant and light-reflective products. Other upgrade options include low-maintenance finishes, which can be either original to the product or added as an after-market coating. These can pay for themselves with long-term savings in cleaning labor and materials. Some of these finishes protect the floor’s aesthetics and extend the useable life, which saves money on renovation and replacement.

When you want to design/build for unique architecture and special-needs customers. The design of a building may provide a natural pairing with many specialty floorcoverings. Energy-efficient buildings with few or no exterior windows benefit from special light-reflective floorcoverings. These floors have built-in fluorescence and are designed to illuminate an area during a power failure. Another special design/build consideration is static-control flooring. These products are often part of systems that include the flooring, ground equipment, and maintenance products. They protect equipment - and, more importantly, people - from the harmful effects of static by either dissipating the charge or conducting it safely away.

This column was excerpted from the StarLog newsletter, a series of floorcovering bulletins from the Ridgefield, CT-based StarNet Independent Flooring Cooperative (www.starnetflooring.com).

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