Nothing will have an impact on the look and feel of an office space like the choice of flooring. A commercial office space requires a certain look and feel that reflects what goes on inside the building. Not only does flooring contribute to a room’s aesthetic, but also its functionality and level of comfort.
According to Verity Hunter the marketing manager at Flowcrete SA a specialist flooring company in South Africa, the African market especially in East Africa tend to use a lot of tiles in offices due to them being fairly cheap. Especially ceramic tiles coming from China. Most companies are very price sensitive. However more and more companies are turning to resin flooring as an option for their offices. “At the moment Flowcrete is receiving quite a few enquiries for a polished concrete finish or a stained concrete finish. The increased demand for stained concrete with an epoxy thin film coating on top is due to companies looking for a more decorative and hard wearing floor finish,” he adds.
Construction Review online looks at the the Best flooring options for an office.
Warm up your office with carpets and carpet tiles
This type of flooring is ideal for businesses that need some kind of noise insulation, such as an office environment. It is, however, important to put into consideration that carpet can easily get stained and may require close attention over time. Carpet tiles provide more flexibility because each tile can be replaced individually. Carpet tiles also come in different styles and patterns, giving the managers a range of choices that reflect the brand and aesthetic of an office.
Vinyl flooring; a touch of style and affordability
Vinyl flooring is popular for commercial flooring because it offers a long-lasting performance. It is ideal for offices that have high traffic like hospitals and retail stores. This type of flooring is resilient and resistant to damage, such as dents and scratches. It comes in many different colours and designs bringing a stylish touch to an office. It is easy to clean and with minimal maintenance.
Rubber Flooring; for resilience and ease of maintenance
Rubber flooring is ideal for high-traffic commercial interior spaces such as airports, healthcare facilities and restaurants. Rubber flooring is durable and is resistant to water and heat and is easy to maintain. Besides being comfortable to walk on, it is slip-resistant and sound absorbent. It comes in a variety of textures and colours.
Hardwood flooring: A classic and timeless look
Hardwood flooring has been the stylish look in most offices from time immemorial and has never gone out of style. It elevates the look and feel of the interior design of an office besides being durable and easy to clean. It is a great office flooring office option for areas that have a lot of activity. Even though it faces damage from moisture, choosing a pre-finished floor can help maintain its appearance. Hardwood flooring traps dust which many other floors absorb.
This is a more inexpensive alternative to wood flooring, tiles or stone. The lamination process involves fusing of two or more types of materials and sealing them. It is simple to install and does not scratch or dent easily. This flooring type is durable, easy to clean and maintain. It also comes with various options to choose from; smooth laminate, embossed laminate, patina laminate and wood grain laminate.
Mukesh Kumar of India’s flooring experts observes that for a market that is bursting forth like Africa, laminate flooring is a product with huge potential because of its cost effectiveness.
Other best flooring options includes tiles. This is because last for a really long time and do not wear out. Some tiles are stronger than others leaving the buyer to choose. Glass tiles are water resistant and also stain resistant. Tiles also improve the beauty of an office as long as it is cleaned regularly.
Factors in play when choosing the best office flooring
Not all floor finishes are ideal for all locations. Managers should be proactive and partner with industry professionals like the architects, interior designers and manufacturers to determine the best flooring for their offices. Partnering with the professionals will help them take into account the numerous factors that they might overlook when planning on their own to install flooring:
Traffic levels into the office
High-traffic offices require flooring that can withstand the heavy traffic into the offices. University buildings, airports and areas of public congregation often feature flooring types like terrazzo, marble or even granite flooring. These are hard surfaces that can withstand wearing and the heavy traffic into the buildings for years. Traffic levels also depends on the function of the office thus affects the cleanliness and maintenance of the office.
When choosing a type of flooring, the ease of its repair when it starts to wear out should be at the center of focus. An observation into the hallways of most offices reveal that most walking take place in this area and is therefore likely to be the first to wear out. The flooring plan chosen should be easy to repair or replace without inconveniencing the employees, clients and the business as a whole.
Ease of maintenance
Most of the common types of flooring need significant and a close attention. Spills on carpets for example, need to be removed as soon as possible and vinyl composite tile (VCT) often have to be stripped of old floor finish and replaced with a new one. Terrazzo might also require regular buffing, and marble might require polishing. Therefore, the cost of labour to maintain flooring acceptably over time will be many times the installation cost.
Rated service life
The life expectancy of any floor surface often depends on issues that the manufacturers cannot predict, such as the level of maintenance for that finish. A well maintained floor type may last longer than the rated life expectancy period.
Recycling or reusing the flooring
Some flooring types have higher levels of volatile organic compounds than others. The contents of flooring not only have a direct impact on indoor air quality but also on the ability to recycle the end product and the industry’s ability to reuse the end product.
The old saying about penny-wise and pound-foolish is not appropriate when considering the most suitable flooring type for an office. One should consider the life-cycle costs of the flooring types; products with lower initial costs might not remain cheaper over time than products with higher initial costs. Choosing inexpensive flooring plan during the design stage is false savings.
As flooring technology changes and improves, the African market is responding to the changes by being quick adopters to the changes and improvements made available. According to Shannon Tchetchik of Finfloor an importer and distributor of flooring materials in South Africa, there are certain developments to vinyl flooring available, namely the introduction of Diamond SPC rigid core flooring, a stone plastic composite that is the most stable flooring available on the market.
“There are more technological advancements and stylings in the industry than ever. Products, construction, styling and installation technologies are changing so fast that it is nearly impossible for maintenance and engineering managers to keep up with the changes. Of all building materials, floor coverings of all kinds are changing most, and attitudes about floor coverings are changing, as well. The green movement has many managers reconsidering floor coverings as they look for alternatives to carpets and current vinyl available,” adds Shannon.
Moreover, Prashant Patel from India’s Bej Ceramics observes that ceramic tiles as a flooring alternative has undergone tremendous transformation since the introduction of digital printing technology. He says that consumers no longer prefer ceramic tiles for cleanliness and hygiene, they also want unique designs.
Parantap Joshi from Kenbro, the Kenyan-based flooring giants, observes that there is an increasing use of new casting technology, light weight blocks, construction chemicals and admixtures. This, he attributes to the fact that the contractors and architects are learning day by day through experimenting the new technology products and their accompanying benefits in the long run.
He advises that going for a product because of its low price might be costly in the long run. Elisa D’Autillia from Italy’s PIMAR Limestone echoes Parantap’s sentiments adding that the buyers are becoming more and more conscious of what they want in terms of quality and expertise of the installers.
In flooring, consumer taste has taken the center stage and continues to be in evolution. As Gaia Di Palma of Italy’s Di Palma Associati observes, the trend is even faster in Africa. He adds that there is a trend towards positive globalization of the taste in architecture but with a constant look at nature and tradition.