Archives for February 2018

Commercial Flooring Trends: Advancements in Design, Technology and Installation

Technology advancements and installation techniques are driving commercial and industrial flooring applications and trends in specific areas.

“We’ve seen some major changes in the development of new materials that are both technologically superior, but also aesthetically pleasing, that have had a positive impact on the industry,” says Doug McDonald, President of Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring, Inc., based in Mississauga, ON. “This includes new and innovative products.”

Grand View Research, Inc., reports the global commercial flooring market size was valued at USD 27.06 billion in 2016 and product innovation and hassle-free installation technologies in the floor covering sector are expected to expand the industry size over the next eight years.

commercial flooring market trends

Source: Grand View Research, Inc.

Driving these innovations and trends are a variety of flooring features that have been made possible with new design technology, offering finishes that are available in a variety of shapes and sizes.

At Darwin Fisher we’ve seen many new offerings in the following areas:

Commercial Flooring Trends: Luxury Vinyl Tile

LVT is extremely versatile from a design perspective. It can replicate the appearance of natural stone or wood but will not wear like natural materials. LVT offers superior thermal and acoustic properties in comparison to hard surface flooring. It won’t chip or discolour and will not expand and contract as wood does in humid or dry seasons. It can also replicate real wood or stone at a fraction of the price. Products made from 100% vinyl are classified as green solutions and eligible for LEED points.

Commercial Flooring Trends in Toronto

Darwin Fisher Luxury Vinyl Tile Installation at IMAX Corporate office

Equipped with a protective wear layer the floor generally needs very little attention to maintain its appearance. It’s water resistant and makes it easy to wipe away surface spills. It’s a good commercial flooring application alternative as it does not require a high amount of maintenance over its lifespan. A simple sweep or damp mop is all that is needed.

Commercial Flooring Trends: Carpet Tile

Carpet tile technology has progressed significantly. Carpet tile systems provide greater flexibility for installation and refitting for a variety of applications across many industries including healthcare, hospitality, retail, education and the entertainment industry.  Carpet tile is extremely durable and spot areas can be easily changed without requiring additional installation expertise.

New pattern matching technology ensures that design and patterns are maintained, and the appearance of the finished product resembles broadloom carpet when installed. If broadloom is chosen and an area is damaged, fixing the spot in question is a much larger and more complicated process in terms of seam and pattern matching. It also makes it difficult to fix if there is no broadloom attic stock available.

Commercial Flooring Trends in Toronto

Darwin Fisher Carpet Tile Installation

According to the Milliken Flooring Blog carpet absorbs 3x more noise than hard flooring and will also absorb impact traffic. It can increase productivity by offering extra cushioning for employees who spend a lot of time standing.

Commercial Flooring Trends: Digitally Printed Porcelain Tile

Thanks to manufacturing advancements and innovations in digital printing processes, today’s porcelain finishes mimic a variety of materials that are often difficult to easily discern with the naked eye. The new technology affords detail so precise that these products can mirror the look and feel of a traditional hardwood floor.

“More designers are open to this because they mimic the look of real wood but provide you with ease of maintenance,” says Elizabeth Livingston, Architectural & Design Consultant for Toronto-based, Centura Tile. “This technology has resulted in incredible detail and vividness of surface designs applied to porcelain, resulting in tile virtually indistinguishable from actual marble, stone and wood, as well as the ability to create an endless number of unique designs and colours.”

The digitally printed porcelain finishes are especially well suited to commercial use such as restaurants, hotels, spas, entertainment and retail spaces, making it a perfect fit for any high-traffic area that requires durability and long wear. This type of porcelain can also be offered in slip resistant finishes where required.

commercial flooring trends Toronto

Photo credit: Centura Tile

“When you have wood, the available finishes are limited,” says Livingston. “When you have a wood porcelain plank the finishes are generally a natural finish, but some lines are available in a polished finish as well as a textured finish for wet areas. The digital possibilities are endless.”

No longer limited to traditional sizes, tile can now be manufactured in what are called planks, or tiles that are rectangular in shape. Manufacturers now offer tiles in an assortment of thicknesses from 3.5mm to 20mm thick pavers. Options as thin as a 3.5 mm thick profile can be used for walls, or ventilated façade systems, or on the underside of soffits for large structures such as universities or office buildings.

Also Trending: Residential Meets Commercial

“We are definitely seeing a trend towards creating a more comfortable home-like experience in the office,” says Susan Quinn, Account Executive of Toronto-based, Mohawk Group. “In order to retain and ensure employees are happy at work there is an influx of residential finishes and concepts being brought into the corporate environment…Clients are wanting softer, more tactile surfaces with lots of big pattern and texture.”

New Designs, Colours, Textures and Accents

Elizabeth Zhou, Darwin Fisher’s Project Co-ordinator notes that when she first started in the industry, most commercial projects were straightforward functional builds. There wasn’t much in the way of design and many projects were fairly cookie cutter.  “Gradually I started to see more conceptual drawings and colour/texture palettes, which was rare in the past. Now they envision how the space would look, showing more attention is being paid to the aesthetic feeling rather than just functionality.”

Zhou sees a continuing pattern of “more resources being spent on accents and textures in the design of a space. There are a lot of accent colours, borders and features within walls/floors in commercial projects, even in non-public spaces.”

flooring trends toronto

Photo credit: Centura Tile

With today’s choices, Darwin Fisher clients are much more inclined to request accent colours and textures even if it comes at an extra cost. “We now usually field a flooring choice being cut in with one or two accents colours. We also see more herringbone and chevron installation patterns of carpet, LVT and porcelain tiles,” says Zhou.

These types of features have been made possible by the introduction of plank carpet tiles and specialty cut LVT & porcelain tiles (see our previous blog posts), that has been made possible with new product design technology. Floor and wall finishes are now available in all shapes (hexagon, triangle, plank and tile) and sizes.

“I also see very clever cost saving trends to imitate expensive design: thin format porcelain panels that look like marble slabs, LVT with graining and texture to look and feel like real wood, rectangular porcelain tile with 3D design to look like a chevron pattern etc. These are all much more economical to purchase and install,” explains Zhou.

Although these materials are currently trending they are long lasting and will provide return on investment as they wear well and require low maintenance.

“There are a lot of flooring types and applications to consider. We offer all of our customers our expertise and assistance in evaluating products performance/cost ratios to ensure a budget meets all of the targets of a project,” concludes McDonald.

For information about flooring applications and installation, please contact