Pros and Cons of Commercial Flooring – Top 5 Types

Technological advances in commercial flooring have created a variety of applications that have made installation and maintenance more manageable, while delivering long-term return on investment. Some of the most popular choices include carpet tile, luxury vinyl tiles (LVT), vinyl composite tile (VCT), engineered hardwood and laminate wood. In this article we will be examining the pros and cons of these five commercial flooring types.

Pros and Cons of Commercial Flooring by Type:

1. Carpet Tile

 Pros

Carpet tile technology has progressed to absorb sound and offers cushioning for employees who frequently stand. Carpet tile provides greater flexibility for installation and refitting for a variety of applications across many industries including healthcare, hospitality, retail, education and the entertainment industry.

Toronto Carpet Tile contractor

Darwin Fisher carpet tile installation at IMAX headquarters

When it comes to carpet tile some of the pros include varieties available with extra cushion and vinyl backing so that they don’t easily unravel. Carpet tile is also  extremely durable and spot areas can be quickly 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.

Carpet Tile Commercial Toronto

Darwin Fisher carpet tile installation at IMAX headquarters

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. Carpet tile can be easily spot fixed while broadloom is a larger endeavor. Carpet tile is more economical than broadloom and generates less waste. Broadloom carpet comes in rolls. Carpet tiles have a smaller footprint and are more modular. The cleaning and maintenance costs of carpet are relatively low, requiring regular vacuuming and an occasional deep cleaning.

Toronto carpet contractors

Photo credit Mohawk Group

 Cons

Carpet tiles need to be professionally cleaned so there will be maintenance. If the carpet and the secondary backing are not attached properly, over time they can separate, causing the installation to wrinkle or fibres to stray and pull at the separation point. The most common cause of delamination is improper formulation or application of the adhesive. Carpet tile can also perceived as “cheap” when compared to broadloom in terms of aesthetics, however that is changing as designs, patterns and materials have technological progressed.

2. Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)

Pros

LVT has become a popular choice amongst dental offices and commercial offices that offer a residential feel. It’s available in a large array of designs that mimic wood and stone but is much more durable. It offers better acoustic properties than hard surface flooring like ceramic tile and it won’t chip or discolor.

LVT is long-wearing, requires very little maintenance and is protected be a clear layer which helps to maintain its appearance over long periods of time. It will not expand and contract in humid or dry seasons and is a fraction of the price of stone or real wood.

pros and cons of commercial flooring types

Darwin Fisher LVT installation at Entertainment One

 Cons

For offices where employees are standing all day it may not be the best flooring in terms of underfoot comfort. The wear layer varies in terms of thickness and it’s important that the thickness be chosen in conjunction with the application at hand or problems can surface in terms of floor traffic and long-term wear. According to the Milliken Flooring blog – “Cleaning hard surfaces like LVT  and VCT (see below) is generally more labor-intensive than carpet, requiring mopping instead of vacuuming to remove dirt and debris. In an 8-hour shift, this makes it possible to clean a 21% larger carpeted area than a comparable hard surface – translating into a 21% increase in labor costs for VCT and LVT.”

3. Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT)

Pros

The pros and cons of commercial flooring also extend to VCT which offers both style and functionality. It is budget conscious and easy to install, repair and offers simple daily maintenance such as quick damp mop. It has a long lifespan and is a cheaper solution than ceramic or hardwood. It is also ideal for spaces which are prone to high moisture levels.

If you require qualities in a rubber surface, mixed in with the appeal of laminate or linoleum flooring, vinyl is a great choice. This type of flooring is scratch-resistant. Vinyl floors are very common in dental offices and health care verticals because they offer style with functionality and ease of daily maintenance. Products made from 100% vinyl are classified as green solutions and eligible for LEED points.

Cons

If not installed properly or in the wrong area, glue on the tiles can come loose and cause the tiles to lift at the corners. Maintenance requires regular waxing and polishing to maintain the protective coating on the surface of the tile. Over time color or pattern deterioration of the tile can be affected. Cleaning issues may also arise that are related to surface wear and tear. “Though VCT offers good value, it lacks many of the benefits carpet tiles are able to provide – including reduced ambient noise, improved underfoot comfort, lower risk of slips and falls, and greater color, pattern and design flexibility,” according to Milliken.

4. Engineered Hardwood

The pros and cons of commercial flooring when it comes to engineered hardwood, as seen in the picture below, include the following:

Pros

Engineered hardwood can be a great option for lower traffic areas. It doesn’t expand or contract as much as laminate flooring and is very pleasing from an aesthetic perspective. As it mimics solid wood flooring, it’s a great option that is less expensive to purchase. It is more environmentally friendly than solid hardwood.

Below is picture of how most engineered hardwood looks today. You can see the actual thickness of the hardwood and how it is laminated with plywood underneath to give stability and backing to secure to the subfloor. Most hardwood is produced this way as there are many layers of pressed wood to give stability, plus a thick wood veneer on the surface for several sandings, to be followed by a choice of a variety of sealants.

Pros and cons of commercial flooring

Engineered hardwood sample

The next consideration is the actual finish. There are 3 types of hardwood finishes. lacquer, water-based urethane and oil or hard wax oil finished. “The majority of the market is lacquer or varathane hardwood,” says says Graham Linton, General Manager of Interior Care.

“The water-based urethane finishes have no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) so are low in odour. They also have a hardener component that cures. This means less downtime as it can be walked on after four hours,” says Linton.  “This allows average sized jobs to be complete and ready for use in one day.”

Varathane hardwood can be maintained with specialty cleaning products or with a damp mopping – never over wet. Hardwood installs that have an oil finished product make scratches less visible and can be oiled out. With urethane or lacquer, it’s difficult to impossible to fix scratches without a refinish.

Cons

When considering the pros and cons of commercial flooring when it comes to engineered hardwood, remember that while aesthetically pleasing, it would not be recommended in the main entrance of an office building. Seasonal precipitation and chemicals could damage the appearance and life expectancy. It further requires more maintenance over time in terms of dents, cracks, scratches and scuffs due to high volume of traffic.

It is one of the most expensive materials to install and also is not a good choice for spaces that are prone to moisture as it will warp and can buckle and crack.

Maintenance is also an issue as it requires the same type of maintenance in the long term as real hardwood.  If the scratches are deeper than the actual finish, isolating the repair is difficult. A very simple maintenance solution is to ensure the glides on the bottom of the legs of the furniture are replaced or covered with felt – this prevents surface scratching. Felt glides should be changed frequently as they will wear with use.

Pros and cons of commercial flooring

Hardwood flooring pros and cons

A refresh of the hardwood finish may be required every 8-10 years depending on the wear and tear of the floor. This is a process called ‘buff and coat’ whereby a contractor surface screens (light sanding) the top layers of the hardwood and applies a new coat of finish which can be varathane or longer wearing urethane.

Oil or hard wax oil finishes can be oiled and touched up for isolated scratches. The long-term issue is this type of hardwood finish, over and up to two years tends to dry out in our four-season climate, and requires nourishing through periodic re-oiling.

5. Laminate Wood

Pros

This man-made wood is favored as it resembles a variety of styles and finishes that mimic solid wood flooring. It is available at a much more affordable price point than real wood and is easy to maintain. It is often found in buildings that qualify for LEED certification points as it is more environmentally friendly option.

pros and cons of commercial flooring

Pros and cons of laminate wood

Cons

Laminate will not wear as well as some of the other new innovations. It is particularly susceptible to moisture due to that it is made from composite wood and can warp or buckle. It is not recommended for any areas prone to moisture.  It is also very difficult to repair.

Pros and Cons of Commercial Flooring Summary

As there are many products and applications to choose from, it’s critical to consult with a trusted contractor who understands the requirements of a particular space and how it will impact your flooring investment over time. Choosing the right application for your area goes well beyond just price, but should take into consideration the long-term functionality needs, the amount of daily traffic and employee needs.

We have outlined this pros and cons of some of the leading applications to give you a better idea of what to expect when it comes to factors affecting performance, life expectancy and appearance retention. Depending on the installation project, each of the above types of flooring provide different levels of wear and tear and also vary in design and aesthetic impact.

For a free consultation on your next flooring installation please contact info@darwinfisher.com. For other articles on commercial flooring and industry related news, please click here. 

 

 

 

Don’t Risk It! 8 Things to Ensure You Hire A Reputable Flooring Contractor

Reputable commercial flooring contractors  have a proven track record in delivering a variety of solutions for distinct commercial spaces. Professionals with this expertise understand the challenges and demands of different types of projects spanning from renovations to new builds. They will be able to handle all aspects from design right through to installation. Your contractor will be the one who will offer options, point out pitfalls and educate you so that your project is a success.

There are eight key things to look for including the firm’s longevity, past history, product knowledge and overall service offering.

1. A Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor – Shows Project Work and Shares References

Finding a contractor is more than a Google search that offers options nearest you. A firm with a good reputation and references to share is a good first start.

Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring| LVT

Get references

You will want to ensure that they are adept at surveying the location in question and how that relates to the type of flooring to be installed. They will examine any possible flooring concerns through an initial onsite meeting.

2. A Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor – Stays on Time and on Budget

Your contractor will help in evaluating product performance/cost ratios to ensure a budget meets all the targets of a project.

Darwin Fisher Commerical Flooring | project management

Stays on time and on budget

Proposals should provide line item budgets that capture the detail of site preparation and installation factors, post installation maintenance and the many details that make a job unique. This approach ensures the tracking of the status of the project as it moves through the implementation cycle which will be important for staying on time and within budget parameters.

3. A Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor – Manages Resources On Site

Ensure your reputable commercial flooring contractor uses qualified installers and will designate a project manager that will be on site to monitor the project as it unfolds. A seasoned team is required to work with other on-site trades to ensure efficient co-ordination of activities. There are complexities associated with scheduling when combined with working with a variety of different trades that can affect day to day outcomes.

Toronto flooring contractor

Project management on site

When there are no gaps in communication it will help to alleviate problems before they occur and allow your contractor to suggest alternatives and recommendations. This ensures that your requirements are efficiently and effectively executed.

4. A Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor – Has Good Product Knowledge

Toronto flooring contractor carpet tile

Solid relationships with manufacturers

It’s important for commercial flooring contractors to have positive and long-standing relationships with the manufacturer’s brands they carry. True flooring specialists will have in-depth knowledge of the products that they install. They will make recommendations for your specific project and advise what type of products will offer the best performance. For example we deal with Mohawk Group, Mannington Commercial and Milliken , amongst other manufacturers.

Understanding the challenges associated with life expectancy, appearance retention and ongoing maintenance are issues that require consideration. Installing the wrong product can create many issues. Prior to installation, a good flooring contractor will help with providing product characteristic data which will help to mitigate future problems – from the sub floor to surface.

5.  A Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor – Minimizes Disruption and Downtime

Reputable commercial flooring contractors will look for ways to minimize or eliminate downtime and disruption.  Darwin Fisher offers technology called Levitate –  an Office Lifting System that allows carpet to be replaced with no downtime. Levitate is a series of custom designed mechanical tools which are placed underneath any type of office furniture to lift it smoothly and safely. Once the furniture and workstations are raised the carpet is quickly and easily installed without disruption to employee workstations.

6. A Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor – Has A Warehouse to Help Lower Costs

Having a warehouse is also an important value add. The flexibility and functionality of a warehouse helps improve customer service, lower costs and offers the availability to have the right products delivered, at the right place and time. It can also be used to  store products that need longer lead times when being shipped from overseas. It is also helpful if there are several iterations of a larger project which require the phasing in of a variety of flooring materials, and longer-term storage is needed.

Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor Toronto

Has a warehouse to help lower costs

7. A Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor – Understands Manufacturer Warranty

Inquire about after sales and installation service. Reputable contractors with good relationships with manufacturers will be registered and understand warranty information as an authorized dealer.

8. A Reputable Commercial Flooring Contractor – Stands Behind Completed Work

Your contractor should  be with you every step and long after the project is complete. If there are any issues after installation, a good contactor will stand behind their work and remedy the problem.

Go further than a simple Google search. Ensure your chosen contractor has  experience, longevity, is financially stable and can offer an array of past projects and references. This will ensure your satisfaction and project success.

For a free consultation on your next flooring installation please contact info@darwinfisher.com.

 

 

5 Reasons Why LVT Popularity Continues to Grow

LVT popularity is increasing due to advancements in design and technology. New sizes, formats and patterns, combined with the fact that it is easy to install and less costly to maintain over time, makes it appealing to a variety of industry verticals.

The global LVT (luxury vinyl tile) market is anticipated to rise at a considerable rate during the forecast period, between 2020 and 2023, states MarketWatch research. “In 2020, the market was growing at a steady rate and with the rising adoption of strategies by key players, the market is expected to rise over the projected horizon.”

5 Reasons for the rise of LVT popularity:

  1. The Way It’s Made

LVT products are generally made of moisture resistant PVC or virgin vinyl. Milliken Flooring Blog defines LVT as a type of hard-surface flooring, made up of several layers that are fused together during manufacturing, under heat and pressure.

LVT is made up of five distinct layers:

  1. Polyurethane coating (sometimes re-enforced with ceramic bead, silica bead or aluminum oxide) to improve durability
  2. Protective clear layer known as the ‘wear layer’
  3. Print film layer (with your chosen design)
  4. Vinyl core
  5. Vinyl backing
Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring examples LVT

Image Credit: LVT 5 layers – Milliken Floor Covering

This results in a flooring solution that is easy to install, durable and easy to clean and maintain. Typically, LVT wear layers range from 20-28 mm of thickness for commercial installation projects, with thickness selected based on requirements from low through to high foot traffic areas. (i.e. low traffic office space as opposed to building entrance areas).

  1. Affordability by Design

LVT, through technological innovation, is now available in many different finishes, including those that mimic wood and stone. Designers are offered a large array of options at more affordable price points than natural materials. Designers are also drawn to the newly available patterns, colours and variety of designs offered as application pattern technology progresses.

  1. Low Maintenance

LVT popularity has also increased as it has become a practical choice across many industries. According to FCNews research  commercial flooring executives attribute the category’s overall growth to several factors including an increase in demand from key end-use market sectors including corporate, healthcare and hospitality. Upon initial purchase, LVT is more expensive than vinyl composite tile (VCT) products, however LVT has a lower maintenance cost over time due to its built-in protective layer, offering much more comprehensive and long-lasting protection. The protective layer doesn’t need regular waxing and polishing like VCT. However, this top layer will wear over time and may need to be reapplied for heavy traffic areas.

Each organization’s LVT cleaning and maintenance requirements will vary based on traffic. Inclement weather will also affect cleaning requirements. LVT only requires regular sweeping and mopping to remove dust and dirt which is much easier for cost-conscience maintenance budgets.

Toronto LVT Commercial Flooring

Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring LVT IMAX installation

  1. Return on Investment: Durability

LVT popularity is driven also by the fact that it is protected by a clear layer which helps to maintain its appearance over long periods of time. The wear layer varies in terms of thickness. Thickness must be chosen in conjunction with the traffic area as heavy, long-term wear will affect appearance.  It will not expand and contract in humid or dry seasons and is a fraction of the price of stone or real wood. LVT is less likely to scuff, indent or scratch with regular use and wear and tear through foot traffic and furniture movement. This makes it a solid flooring investment choice for the long-term, combined with the fact that it requires very little maintenance.

  1. Acoustically Sound

Studies have shown that elevated noise levels from hard surface flooring can negatively affect the health and well-being of employees. LVT offers better acoustic properties than hard surface flooring like ceramic tile and it won’t chip or discolor.

Armstrong Flooring reports that building materials and furnishings can affect the acoustics of a building in three ways through information gathered on Acoustical Data – Impact Insulation Class (IIC):

  • Sound Absorption: They can absorb sound, lowering background noise levels and reducing reverberation within a room.
  • Airborne Sound Transmission: They can serve as acoustical insulation and reduce transmission of airborne sounds, such as voices, between rooms.
  • Impact Sound Transmission: They can serve as impact sound insulation and reduce the transmission of impact sound, such as footsteps, from one room to another below or adjacent to it.
Commercial Flooring Examples Toronto LVT

Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring LVT installation at Entertainment One

In healthcare, we’ve seen a trend towards installation of newer finishes like LVT over traditional ceramic. Flooring decisions in healthcare depend on how it will affect patients, safety, indoor air quality and infection control. Floor surfaces also need to be slip resistant and offer smooth transitions from one area to another for staff/patients and related equipment. Part of the reason beyond new finishes and designs, is that these technologies offer sound transmission protection. Dentists and doctors stress the need for soundproofing. Walls, ceiling and flooring materials selected need to help protect patient privacy and hinder sound travel.

Many Finishes and Manufacturers

According to Floor Focus Magazine, “…the already ascendant LVT category entered a period of relentless growth that has generated huge opportunities and lots of enthusiasm-and a $3 billion domestic market-along with a hefty dose of chaos and uncertainty.” The article further states that, “Beyond the acronyms themselves, which struggle to define the endlessly shifting product constructions, there’s the sheer diversity of products and price points; and there’s also the issue of which markets to target with which products.”

There are a number of different types of LVT products on the market. Many manufacturers offer different performance ratios from one product to another. This includes the surface of the product, to the type of backing used, in addition to thickness of the tiles. Ensure your flooring installer is knowledgeable of the differences, quality and applications that would best suit your environment, including projected wear from foot traffic/furniture, installation, and maintenance and acoustic considerations.

For more information about LVT flooring installation solutions please fill out this form on our website or email us directly at info@darwinfisher.com.

Project Management: 6 Step Flooring Process Delivers Minimal Disruption, Quality Installation

Sound project management mitigates the devil in the details when it comes to flooring.

For over 16 years we have executed very large, complex projects to small installations. Our proven process ensures your installation experience is seamless, while offering minimal disruption to your employees. As we continually work with end users, general contractors, property managers, interior designers, and architects our project management process is comprehensive.

6 Key Project Management Steps for Successful Flooring Installation

  1. Assessment

Our seasoned staff understands the intricacies involved with many different types of corporate flooring environments. We first assess the needs of your project via an onsite visit. This helps us mitigate the possible issues that can arise by examining the flooring surface. We then determine the preparation and materials required.

Project Management and assessment

Photo by sps universal on Unsplash

“The biggest concern our clients want us to address is the associated logistics,” says Doug McDonald, President of Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring. “We offer minimal disruption to our clients through our project management expertise. This includes understanding the details of site preparation, installation, and post maintenance issues that make each job unique. We thoroughly investigate each challenge, pairing it with a solution customized to fit our client’s exact needs.”

  1. Scope and Materials

Once we have collected all of the requirements, we recommend products that are optimal for your site. We then provide a detailed plan with an associated budget related to project execution. We use software which creates a graphic representation of how the materials are applied to the floor plan. These colour coded plans help our clients to easily conceptualize what is being proposed.

Project management and flooring

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

  1. Budgeting and Planning

Our software then allows us to produce line item proposals for our clients. This is used to track the status of the project as it moves through the implementation cycle. This is especially critical when timelines are constantly moving or when the circumstances associated with a specific installation change. It’s also an important tool for closely tracking a project and costs when there are fluctuating changes due to other trades on site.

Project Management and budgeting

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

As part of this process, product performance/cost ratios are provided to clients to ensure that the budget meets all project parameters. After the product is chosen, verification samples are provided to confirm the product is representative of what the designer/client requires. This eliminates any material errors before work starts.

  1. On-Site Project Management

When the project is initiated, materials are ordered and delivered to the warehouse. See why this is important in our previous blog post and how it helped our client – Pusateri’s Fine Foods.

We’ve made our warehouse an integral part of our operations as it not only acts a place to store product but offers a location to prepare and ship orders. Inventory management is important as it offers a wide array of benefits. This provides extra value to our customers as it allows for the right product to be available and delivered to the right place, at that right time.

Project management

Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

Darwin Fisher projects are generally turnkey but if delays are encountered, including equipment, electrical and plumbing problems, project timelines can become offset. The warehouse ensures a project will run smoothly as it provides the flexibility to have both materials and experts on site at a moment’s notice.

Once the project begins, we continually make sure our project managers are on site to offer proactive solutions should any problems arise. Our seasoned staff work with all on-site trades/contractors assigned. This ensures transparent co-ordination of activities, while meeting schedules and budget demands. We are always there to answer questions and to make sure the project is running according to plan. By continually being an onsite resource for our client, any issues can be dealt with quickly.

  1. Post Installation

Once the project is complete, we accompany our client on a site walk through to ensure all project specifications are met. Our goal is to have our client completely satisfied with the final result. To see examples of our client work please click here.

  1. Warranty

Our clients are then provided with the flooring maintenance requirements and warranty manuals for all products installed. Although, the project may by complete, our after-service commitment to our clients is ongoing to ensure the highest quality and customer satisfaction for partner network.

For information on your next commercial build or renovation, please contact info@darwinfisher.com