A boom in construction spending and growth in urban areas has led to a surge in commercial flooring projects. It’s not just new facilities that need a practical, aesthetically-pleasing flooring solution. As buildings age, business owners and property managers are remodeling worn surfaces to improve productivity, reduce work-related injuries, and cut down on maintenance and repair expenses.
While cost is always a large consideration when deciding which type of commercial flooring would be best for a project, function and visual appeal are also factors. In many industries, return-to-service time is also a priority. In addition, companies wanting to be good environmental stewards can now choose from a number of sustainable flooring systems.
With all the options to choose from, how can you choose which type of commercial flooring would best fit the requirements of your space?
In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of polished concrete, stained concrete, epoxy coatings, vinyl, carpet, hardwood, laminates, and rubber to help you make an informed choice.
The next time you are in a shopping complex, corporate office retail space, supermarket or warehouse, look down, and you are likely to see a polished concrete floor. This durable, classic building material is now becoming more popular because it offers a clean and contemporary look with an affordable price tag. Business owners also appreciate that polished concrete drastically cuts down maintenance costs when compared to other, more traditional flooring materials. Light reflectivity can reduce utility costs, which can represent a significant expense in some industries. When compared to many other flooring systems, polished concrete is environmentally-friendly, since there are fewer waste materials produced during installation. This popular flooring option can also help improve air quality since the surface does not retain mold, mildew, dust, and other common indoor allergens.
Concrete can become transformed into an almost infinite number of ways through staining. This easy to clean surface can be customised to mimic many other more expensive materials, including marble, natural stone, and even wood. Stencils, patterns, and other decorative elements can make a stained concrete floor completely unique and customised to match the desired style or aesthetic. You may see stained concrete in waiting rooms, restaurants, retail stores, churches, outdoor malls, and homes, although this flooring alternative can be found almost anywhere. Stained concrete won’t fade, crack, or chip, making it ideal for outdoor areas since some other materials cannot withstand the elements. Stained concrete also has some of the same other benefits as polished concrete, since it’s cost-effective and long-lasting.
Some of the biggest growth in the concrete flooring market is in epoxy flooring. Epoxy is becoming more common in commercial settings, including automotive facilities, oil and gas manufacturing plants, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, food and beverage plants, airports, schools and colleges, and parking facilities. Epoxy coatings can be tailored to the demands of space and are highly resistant to wear and tear and other common abrasions. In addition to having insulating properties, epoxy flooring can perform under a wide range of temperatures. Different types of coatings can provide chemical and heat resistance and high UV stability, making epoxy a popular choice for high-performance environments.
Vinyl is a fully synthetic polymer that can provide you with the look of hardwood or stone without the upkeep. You may see vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl composition tile (VCT) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) in offices, schools, hospitals and hotel lobbies. This moisture resistant surface is relatively durable and comes in a variety of patterns and colours. When compared to several different types of flooring materials, vinyl may be less expensive, but tiles can become punctured or dented in some settings. Over time, vinyl flooring can become faded, particularly in areas subject to UV exposure. If you decide to replace this type of flooring, removal can become difficult and expensive, since tiles are attached with glue. When compared with some flooring systems, vinyl has a bigger impact on the environment, since volatile chemicals are released during the production process.
Perhaps the most traditional choice in some commercial settings, carpet can provide added warmth in colder climates and absorbs noise. However, carpet can easily become stained and damaged, and toxic chemicals are released during the manufacturing process. While dirt and other debris are easily swept away on a concrete surface, allergens often get trapped in carpet fibres. Carpet may need to be removed if exposed to excessive moisture, particularly if mold and mildew develop. Overall, carpet is not as durable as many of the alternatives currently available for commercial spaces.
While solid wood flooring can last longer than some other types of commercial flooring, it tends to be much more expensive, and the installation period can be lengthy. That said, wood flooring is elegant in appearance, and dust and dirt can be easily washed and swept away. Similar to carpet, moisture can be an issue with hardwood floors, as well as humidity. Cracks, cupping, crowning and buckling can occur on the surface, and moisture and leaks beneath the surface can also cause problems. You don’t see hardwood floors often in commercial settings, because of the cost, although converted spaces sometimes have solid wood flooring.
Laminate wood flooring is engineered to be durable, hygienic, and easy to maintain. One benefit of this type of flooring is that it is usually waterproof. You may see laminate floors in LEED-certified facilities. While laminates are less expensive than hardwood floors, these surfaces can be difficult to repair when damaged.
In certain commercial settings, rubber may be a viable option for your flooring. This material provides cushioning to reduce injury and fatigue in commercial kitchens, gyms, hospitals, and schools. While rubber is slip-resistant, comfortable, sound absorbent and easy to maintain, discolouration can occur on the surface over time. Costs can certainly add up over time. Rubber is more of a utilitarian flooring choice and is not as visually appealing as some of the other options currently available.
High Traffic Commercial Flooring: What Are My Options?
Some commercial settings experience heavy use and need a surface that is resilient to above-average wear and tear. These environments might include an industrial plant with forklifts and other machinery operating around the clock. A school cafeteria is another candidate for a high-performance solution, as these spaces have a high degree of foot traffic and must be able to withstand the regular movement of tables and spills. Entrances, production areas, and hallways can also be demanding surfaces where a flooring choice is important to your space functioning as it is intended.
The most common flooring solution for these demanding environments is epoxy coatings over a concrete surface. While bare or using a thin build concrete sealer may seem like a good choice because concrete is so durable, you’ll likely see cracking and other deterioration without an added layer of protection. An experienced concrete contractor will likely recommend that you install a specially-formulated high-traffic polyaspartic coating over your existing epoxy coating that can protect your floor from the toll of ongoing stresses. Not all polyaspartics will work in every space, however, which is why you need advice from a pro to help your floor last longer and best suit the requirements for your space.
In some situations, polished concrete can provide you with a moderately chemically-resistant, low maintenance flooring option. Once you have gone through the process of removing any imperfections through concrete grinding, you can add a top layer that can prolong the life of your floor and provide you with an easy to clean surface. Depending on the desired use of your space, you may be able to have polished concrete in some areas and epoxy coatings in others.
Hardwood, vinyl, carpet, and other flooring options typically cannot handle the punishment of most high-traffic facilities. Buildings with these types of floors typically see higher repair and maintenance costs, as well as increased downtime when these materials need to be replaced.
Are The Cheapest Commercial Flooring Options The Way To Go?
When your biggest driver is cost, what makes the most sense for your facility? Most individuals making a decision about commercial flooring understand that expenses must be calculated over the long term. While installation costs for some materials might be low, increased maintenance and replacement costs over time might make some flooring options a better investment than others.
Another consideration is the time it takes to install and replace a floor. When compared with other materials, polished concrete tends to be among the quickest flooring systems to install, partly because concrete is already beneath existing floors in many commercial settings. For these reasons, many general contractors, business owners, and commercial property managers choose polished concrete when they are looking for an inexpensive flooring option for their facilities.
High-Performance Flooring Options
Foot, vehicle, and equipment traffic aren’t the only requirements of commercial facilities. For buildings that require a surface that is not damaged by corrosive chemicals, heat, excessive abrasions, and a number of other demands, epoxy coatings are often the best flooring solution. Resinous coatings can be customised to fit the needs of practically any space, whether it is a laboratory, food processing plant, healthcare facility, or another industrial setting. Epoxies can be mixed with aggregates in lobbies and entryways to increase the visual appeal, and coatings can also be designed with slip-resistance in mind.
High-solid epoxies can protect a surface from exposure to alkalines and acids. These coatings also offer superior adhesion, the ability to withstand abrasive cleaning chemicals and are fast-curing. These high-solid coatings are also low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Polyureas are popular in the food industry since these floors tend to outlast other flooring systems. Polyurea coatings are easy to clean and are heat resistant. Polyurea coatings are extremely quick-drying and can withstand a broad range of temperatures. An experienced concrete contractor can help you weigh all the options available and determine what surface best suits your space’s needs.
What’s The Most Durable Commercial Flooring?
The flooring systems which are the most durable also tend to be the best options for high-traffic and high-performance spaces. Depending on how much impact your surfaces receive, epoxy coatings and polished concrete tend to be the best choices for these spaces. Both surfaces can withstand more significant and consistent impact without damage when compared to vinyl, hardwood, carpet, and other types of commercial flooring. When weighing a polished concrete vs. epoxy floor, you’ll need to consider two primary factors: what you can spend and how your space will be used. A polished concrete floor is adequate in many industrial settings and may last longer than an epoxy floor, but epoxy coatings offer more specialised protection for your flooring to address a broader array of specialised needs.
Non-Slip Floors Australia Can Help With Your Next Commercial Flooring Project
Every commercial space is slightly different, which is why Non-Slip Floors Australia carefully considers the needs of each facility before recommending a custom flooring solution. Our experts will advise you during every phase of your project, providing you with expert advice on how to get the most out of your space while optimising your budget and reducing your downtime. Non-Slip Floors Australia is a trusted concrete provider for any type of commercial setting, with a proven track record to get customers the flooring they need.
Contact us today to discuss your next project.