Choosing your office flooring: 6 factors at play

When it comes to office flooring, looking beyond the cost of your initial purchase can mean considerable savings in the long run.

Comparing office flooring solutions for your business can sound like a chore, but weighing up the pros and cons is key in avoiding later headaches. 

Factors to consider vary from traffic, through maintenance, to budget, but what exactly should you look out for before you take your pick? Let's have a closer look.

1. Traffic  

Concrete flooring at Saatchi Saatchi 's New York office. Architect: M Moser

The reception area, very much like the corridors in your office, is considered a high-traffic area: it receives so much foot traffic that it needs a highly durable floor.

Good examples of low-maintenance, durable floors include polished concrete – one of the most heavy-duty options out there – and vinyl. Slip-resistant finishes are also a good idea, particularly in busy reception areas where accidents might occur in wet weather.You can also opt for a thin-pile carpet, especially in offices in need of noise insulation. 

To prolong the lifespan of your carpet, you can install an entrance barrier system designed to resist the transfer of dirt and moisture from the outside onto the carpet inside.

Terrazzo, marble and granite are some other durable flooring solutions since their hard surfaces are made to withstand heavy traffic.

2. Ease of repair 

CBRE Sydney's office features the elegant Otta parquet by Tongue N Groove. WMK Architecture

If you think about it, ease of repair should be an obvious factor to consider when choosing your office flooring. Landlords, however, often get sidetracked by other factors such as aesthetics and, let's be honest, budget. It just so happens that budget highly correlates with ease of repair.  

What happens when my flooring starts to wear out? Can I get it fixed or will it need replacement? How easy will it be to replace and how long will it take? 

Unsurprisingly, reception areas and hallways are usually the first ones to take the hit and wear out. Think about flooring options that offer flexibility. Carpet tiles and concrete are great ideas; laminate and hardwood, not so much.

3. Maintenance

Woven vinyl flooring by Jean Nouvel for Bolon 

You can't get away without at least some maintenance. The easiest to look after is probably concrete, but even that can come with cracks in need of patching. Carpets will suffer from spills,  vinyl composite tiles (VCT) often have to be stripped and replaced with new ones, terrazzo tiles need regular buffing, marble has to be polished... You get the gist.

Be sure to know your maintenance costs as you are likely to spend more money on looking after your floor than you did on the initial purchase.

4. Life-cycle costing

The general belief behind life-cycle costing is one we have all experienced in our personal lives: the cheapest option always ends up costing more. 

Life expectancy of any flooring depends on issues such as traffic and level of maintenance, both hard to predict by manufacturers. A well-maintained floor may last longer than the rated life expectancy period. Conversely, a poorly maintained floor may wear out sooner than expected. When choosing your flooring, be sure to analyze the kind of work your occupants will be doing in the space, how often they will do it and how each flooring will cope.

5. Recycling 

Desso's TakeBack™ programme  ensures that every carpet  they is recycled according to the Cradle to Cradle® principles.

Some floors have higher levels of volatile organic compounds than others. What does that mean? Simply that the elements in your flooring will have a direct impact on the air quality in your office. 

Ecofriendly flooring can mean "made from sustainable materials" and it can mean "recycled from previous projects." In that regard, one of the most sustainable flooring options is the carpet, as it allows for recycled elements to be incorporated into the material. Brands that manufacture sustainable carpets for the workplace include MillikenDessoForbo and Interface

If carpet does not suit your business, you may want to consider other sustainable flooring options, such as bamboo and cork floors, linoleum or luxury vinyl tile.

6. Budget

We're finally here. The million-dollar question.  How much will it cost me? 

Choosing the cheaper flooring option is the wrong approach and the wrong attitude, but deep down, you already knew that. Instead, consider the life-cycle cost of the flooring in parallel with your budget. Strategise long-term. Align your choice with your business values, not only with current trends. And of course, consult with experts who will help you determine which option best fits your budget.

 
Skype Stockholm offices. pS Arkitektur

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Opening image: woven vinyl flooring by Jean Nouvel for Bolon