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Good looks that work: focus on hard-surface flooring.

Good Looks that Work: Focus on Hard-Surface Flooring

Once regarded as strictly utilitarian commercial building products appreciated only for their functional value and durability in high-traffic areas, today's hard-surface flooring options have clearly come of age. Why? Customization - due to an abundance of impressively colorful, high-quality, textured, and durable products that range from resilient tile, vinyl sheets, and rubber flooring to ceramic tile, wood, and stone. It doesn't matter if you are building new, renovating a grand lobby, or adding a raised floor with non-static vinyl for a computer room, your product choices will be plentiful and can add considerable value to your building's image. Hard-surface flooring, one of the least expensive design options for any project, can also be one of its most noticeable.

Flooring decisions made by the facilities group at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank, in which an evaluation of each building area's particular needs is paramount to selecting the appropriate flooring, is a painstaking process other facility managers would do well to follow. According to Robert Geise, manager of Wells Fargo's Large Construction Group, a high-traffic hall or aisle might dictate the use of resilient tile, for example. In contrast, raised rubber flooring in a fire escape or stairwell is ideal for liability-conscious facility managers profiting from the product's well-known slip-resistant quality - a feature equally popular among insurers of commercial buildings.

In public areas such as lobbies, where durable flooring must also be impressive looking to set the proper tone for a building, a company may consider marble, granite, or wood. "Many commercial building professionals are individualizing their buildings' reception areas with custom accents and corporate logos as insets," says John Stern, president of Kentucky Wood Floors, Louisville, KY.

Although aesthetics may be at the top of the flooring product criteria list, according to Matthew Kahny, tile product manager for Lansdale, PA-based American Olean Tile Company, "Once [building professionals] have the look they want, the other factors fall into place. Is it durable enough? Easy to maintain? Does it meet all the other functional needs of the space?"

Unfortunately, price considerations are still at a premium with many building owners, and flooring budgets may be the first to be cut when overruns occur. "If a project is cut by 10 percent, and with flooring being one of the last products to [be installed in a building], all too often [the building team] will forsake performance in order to meet a price budget," says Richard Burkemper, president of Endura Rubber Flooring, Arnold, MD.

When appraising the dollars and sense of any flooring decision, however, consider the subliminal benefits of certain colors as cited in a number of environmental studies. "Color selection is very important and is a major consideration when we make our [flooring product] choices. We find the soft warm pastels induce a calmness," says Richard O. Angus, manager of Project Engineering for Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI.

Calmness sounds pretty good to professionals in the fast lane, doesn't it?

Pages 39 through 48 offer some of the latest technologies in hard-surface flooring products. For more information on these products, circle the appropriate inquiry number on the Reader Service Card on page 73.
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Author:Barron, Cindy Y.
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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