Flooring seems like it would be a simple thing to choose. As long as kids and teachers alike can walkon it, it has to be good enough, right? Surprisingly, there’s a lot more to flooring than meets the eye. To help you understand the necessary considerations regarding everything from location to materials, here’s how to increase the lifespan of school flooring (and why it’s so important).
Why Does Flooring Matter?
It’s a fair question to ask. One might assume that the material that desks and chairs sit on top of can’t have a substantial impact on the educational environment, but you’d be surprised how these small issues (or small perks) can stack up and shape a learning space.
For one thing, consider how many things can distract students from learning. When a janitor rolls their cart down the hallway, can you hear every time the wheels move over a grout line in the tile? Perhaps smooth tile with no grout lines would be a better option to keep your class focused.
Speaking of janitors and custodial staff, the floors in a school can severely impact their workload. While teachers and administrators may not initially believe that this affects their day-to-day operations, remember that any unnecessary complexity in the custodial staff’s mandatory daily duties could delay pending repairs in those spaces. If floors are easier to clean, that’s more time for janitors to work on other projects.
Finally, money is always an essential consideration. Some floors are, by their very nature, more resilient than others. Opting for cheap flooring may initially save money, but if your floors are in constant need of repair, those savings will disappear quickly.
Flooring By Location
When choosing flooring, remember that different rooms have vastly different flooring needs. What works in a bathroom won’t work in a classroom, so ensure that you consider location in your decision.
Classrooms make up the majority of the rooms in your facility, so don’t make this decision lightly. A few flooring options for classrooms can work well, but let’s start by looking at Broadloom carpeting.
The benefits of carpeting are numerous, but first-floor teachers will love this one most of all: it’s nearly silent underfoot. Every teacher and student knows how annoying it is to hear the sound of 30 chairs scraping the floor overhead when it’s time for the classroom above them to take a seat.
Typically, that only happens at the start and end of class, but classroom activities can increase those scraping sounds to a maddening degree. Carpeting your floors completely removes this problem.
In addition, many teachers spend their day on their feet, and tile floors quickly turn into significant foot pain. Softer floors give teachers more stamina and let them know that their administration cares about their health and well-being.
Finally, carpeting offers better dust and allergen trapping than hard surfaces, reducing the amount of sneezing and coughing (which reduces the number of airborne germs).
If you opt for carpeting, you should keep in mind that your custodial staff will need new equipment to keep things clean: vacuums. It won’t require a massive investment, but it’s something to consider before pulling the trigger.
If soft flooring seems like too big of a departure from the norm for you, consider luxury vinyl tile (LVT). LVT is an affordable option, and the low price doesn’t come with low quality. While it doesn’t offer the near-silence or soft feeling that carpeting does, LVT is extremely easy to maintain. Over time, LVT will scratch and wear, but if you acquire some furniture pads, you’ll extend its lifespan exponentially.
Homogeneous sheet is a bit of a middle ground between LVT and carpeting, as it is more scratch-resistant and softer than LVT while still offering harder flooring than carpets. It’s great for classrooms with sinks (for lab experiments and handwashing, of course!) because it’s so easy to wipe clean. There’s also no worry of moisture seeping underneath this flooring as it’s a welded-seam product.
The final option for classrooms is rubber. It’s more comfortable underfoot than LVT or homogeneous sheet, and it’s easier to wipe clean than carpeting. Rubber is also extremely durable and won’t scratch easily at all. Finally, rubber is nice and grippy, so slips and spills are much less likely.
When picking the floors of a cafeteria, you want to look for a material that holds up against the biggest problems of a lunchroom: noise and spills. Many cafeterias are tile, simply continuing the hallway material into the lunchroom. Unfortunately, tile gets very slippery after a spill (almost a daily occurrence in an elementary school), and it does nothing to reduce the loudness that only kids can produce.
The best option to combat both challenges is rubber. Whether rubber is wet or dry, it has a high coefficient of friction, meaning that it’s anti-slip. That’s not to say falls are impossible with this material, but rubber should significantly reduce the number of tumbles.
While tile simply bounces sound right back into the air, rubber dampens and absorbs noise quite effectively. Every lunch proctor knows the headaches that come from kids and sugar, so switching to rubber floors can cut down on migraines and falls alike.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: rubber flooring is a great option for so many different areas. Slip resistance is a big deal in hallways, and there’s no flooring better at preventing falls than rubber. With its easy maintenance and sound reduction, rubber-floored hallways offer plenty of benefits.
LVT is another good option for these high-traffic areas if rubber is out of your budget. LVT is more slip-resistant than other options and has a long shelf life to boot.
Many school bathrooms already feature the optimal material: porcelain tile. It’s waterproof, cost-effective, and it just looks right. Bathrooms are likely the room that requires the most visits by custodial staff, so make their lives simpler with an easy-to-clean material like porcelain tile.
Now that you know how to increase the lifespan of school flooring by picking the right materials, we can help in another way. No matter what material you use, protect your floors by putting furniture leg caps on all your desks and chairs. Whether the floor is hard or soft, the material will stay scratch-free for years.