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.

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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. 

 

 

 

Residential Meets Commercial Office Flooring Design

Flooring design represents the first step as many organizations continue to adopt a more residential style of workspace. The intent behind this trend? Boost employee morale and productivity through comfortable, open spaces that foster connection.

As a follow up to our previous blog in this series, we have seen a continued trend of organizations providing flexible hours and workspaces. The result has been more residential style flooring designs and office layouts which provide welcoming environments, while providing all of the amenities of home.

Toronto flooring examples Darwin Fisher

Photo credit: Mohawk Group

As a result, a large array of new materials and their application are giving way to the blurring boundaries between commercial and residential, beginning with flooring design.

Flooring Designs: More Choices Through Technological Advances

Advances in application technology have yielded cost savings for clients by imitating expensive design. This includes thin format porcelain panels that look like marble slabs, LVT with graining and texture to look and feel like real wood and rectangular porcelain tile with 3D design to look like a chevron pattern. All of these options are much more economical to purchase and install.

Toronto flooring contractor

Photo credit: Mohawk Group

New materials also offer bright, vibrant colours and more detail has become standard. Dull neutrals and unassuming colours are now replaced by energetic, creative selections to match the more informal furniture now being found in collective work areas and office entrances.

“We are definitely seeing a more 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. Modern offices are being built with collaboration, communication and modularity in mind to enhance productivity and employee satisfaction.”

Corporate designs are becoming multifunctional in nature and include smaller furniture footprints that can be easily rearranged. Plush, comfortable couches are more the norm and traditional cubicles are being replaced by open concept configurations and modular, movable furniture.

Commercial flooring examples Toronto

Photo credit: Mohawk Group

Quinn explains there is now a stronger focus on amenity areas, including increased opportunities for touchdowns as well as areas that are plug and play. Kitchens are becoming more residential with comfortable seating and gathering areas. There is also more attention focused on interfacing with outdoor areas.

Increased Employee Productivity

Blair Setford who is Director, Product Management, at a wealth management company in Mississauga, ON agrees. He enjoys his work environment because he is able to walk down the hall from his office, through the modular kitchen, and out onto the patio. Here the company often hosts corporate/department BBQs and events and provides outdoor tables, including high top seating for its employees and guests. When weather permits, internal meetings are held on the patio, depending on the time of year, and Setford feels these options make employees more productive.

Commercial flooring examples Toronto - Darwin Fisher

Photo credit: Blair Setford

“We like to get outside and enjoy some sunshine, “ says Setford. “Because we are in a suburban location we have to look for amenities to attract talented people to our location and that’s one way we can do it – our own patio.”

The office at Setford’s workplace is a mixture of carpet tile and laminate flooring design. The kitchen offers a foosball table plus a variety of different types of seating for employees. Often employees will congregate in the kitchen an enjoy a game of foosball, or two, at lunch or while having a meeting.

Darwin Fisher commercial flooring Toronto

Photo credit: Blair Setford

The blending of home and office flooring design has also been seen at Darwin Fisher. Elizabeth Zhou, Darwin Fisher’s Project Co-ordinator sees a continuing pattern of more design resources being spent on accents and textures. There are a lot of accent colours, borders and feature within walls/floors in commercial projects, even in non-public spaces.

Flooring Design: A Variety of Finishes And Patterns

“We see more herringbone and chevron installation patterns of carpet, LVT and porcelain tiles that has been made possible with new product design technology. Floor and wall finishes are also now available in all shapes (hexagon, triangle, plank and tile) and sizes,” says Zhou.

This trend has showed no sign of slowing down as there is increased demand for softer, more tactile surfaces with varied patterns and textures. It has become more the norm for today’s more residentially-infused office designs take into account the entire experience. Customers, guests, employees and their comfort is now the focus on every aspect of the designed space.

For information on how to incorporate residential design into your next commercial build or renovation, please contact info@darwinfisher.com