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Materials and location + proper maintenance = functional flooring.

In the past, aesthetic and functional qualities of hard-surface flooring systems were the major purchasing considerations of those building owners and facilities managers making flooring selections. Today, however, flooring experts agree the most often asked questions among today's decision-makers center around maintenance concerns. According to a spokesman from Farmington, MI-based Marble Institute of America, a careful evaluation of particular needs is the first step toward specifying proper flooring. In addition, traffic patterns, wearability of materials, looks, and ease of maintenance must all be considered.

Each hard-surface flooring material resilient, rubber, wood, ceramic tile, or stone systems - offers distinct benefits, but all make a statement about a particulay building's image. Benefits and cost information for each system are detailed, as follows:

Ceramic tile, available in glazed, unglazed, or porcelain, offers an unlimited design spectrum. "Tile glazes have improved to offer increased wear-resistance, and improved glazes have opened up a wide range of color possibilities," says Robert Kleinhans, director for Princeton, Nj-based Tile Council of America. Seventy percent of floor tile purchased is 8- by 8inch, while 12- by 12-inch tiles are the next popular. "The world trend is for bigger sizes, but the U.S. market has been reluctant to go up in size. [As a result,] the 8- by 8-inch tile will be dominant for years to come," says Tom Olson, regional sales manager, The Tileworks, a Des Moines, IA based tile manufacturer. "Depending upon the prep work, installed ceramic tile ranges from $6 to $10 per square foot."

Resilient flooring is available in two types: vinyl tile, in 12- by 12-inch squares; and vinyl sheet, in 6- or 12-foot rolls, usually with a felt backing. Both flooring types come in a wide range of color selections and can be installed over existing resilient flooring. "Resilient flooring's monolithic surface is easy to maintain and has an average life expectancy of over 20 years," says Walter Anderson, managing director for Rockville, Md-based Resilient Floor Covering Institute. "The cost of sheet vinyl can range from $7 to $40 per square yard, while the average vinyl tile ranges from $15 to $20 per square yard."

Rubber flooring offers the end-user the greatest longevity at the least cost. Floor tiles in a large palette of colors feature raised surface profiles that allow dirt and liquids to drain off, thereby ensuring a drier, safer surface. Sound absorption, a softer floor, chemical- and abrasion-resistance, consistent color throughout, and minimum maintenance procedures are additional benefits. Color-coordinating accessories include stair treads, risers, and wall baseboards. Dick Tucker, president of Tuscumbia, Al-based Flexco, a rubber tile manufacturer, says, "The average price per square foot of rubber sheet and tile varies depending upon geographical region. On the West Coast, installed rubber flooring costs between $3.50 and $5 per square foot; on the East Coast, it's $2.75 to $4.75 per square foot."

Stone flooring offers a lifetime of good wear if properly maintained. All systems - marble, granite, hard limestones, aggregates, and composite - prove to be functional; yet, according to a spokesman from the Marble Institute of America, selections should be based upon knowledge of the different types of stone and their wearability factor, not simply upon looks or color. For instance, 3/4-inch-thick stone adds solidity, while honed-finish marble is preferred because any flat non reflective surface is easier to clean. Installation for most stone flooring with a properly prepared sub-floor costs approximately $4 per square foot. Marble in 12by 12-inch tiles ranges from $3 to $25 per square foot; depending on its availability, granite ranges from $10 to $35 per square foot.

Wood flooring adds elegance and value to a building, and is available in three styles: strip - 2 1/4-inches wide and available in random lengths in solid or laminated wood laid in a lineal pattern; plank - anything over 3-inches wide, although popular widths include 5- and 7-inch; and parquet - decorative wood squares that, when combined, can create many designs, such as basketweave, herringbone, and monticello. Wood is highly durable; provides ease of maintenance (in some cases flooring can be rejuvenated overnight); and is compatible with most design scenarios. Jack Wilcox, president of the Board of Directors for Manchester, MO-based National Wood Flooring Association, says, "Prices vary depending on the geographical area, wood, and grade, but the approximate installed cost per square foot of wood flooring is $3 to $10."

Pages 40 through 48 provide an example of the types of hard-surface flooring available in today's market. For free literature on these products, circle the appropriate inquiry number on the Reader Service Card on page 73.
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Title Annotation:Interior Solutions
Author:Barron, Cindy
Article Type:Evaluation
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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