Flooring contributes to the design of healthcare facilities in a multitude of ways, contributing aesthetically to the overall look and feel of a facility, providing comfort for patients and staff, and working as a way-finding tool to designate areas.
At the same time, a flooring palette has to take into account the demands of each space.
“The best way to approach these design areas is to decide on a style, such as a clinical or relaxed environment, and research colour trends and how colours affect emotion, especially within mental health,” advises Damien Ryan, National Technical Manager at Polyflor.
“Consider the lifestyle, the overall feel you want in your project, research products that are fit for purpose and that will provide sustainable slip resistance where required, the abrasion level of the flooring and wear layers, the ease of cleaning and ongoing cleaning and maintenance costs.”
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Whether a product is selected is hence decided by whether or not it is ‘fit for purpose’. Surfaces with a raised profile or heavy texturing, for example, should not be used in areas where wheeled traffic is expected, but is recommended for floor safety in areas such as central kitchens and wet areas.
From floors that stand up to frequent spills, to an option that is adhesive-free, we explore four of the latest flooring products that could meet the particular needs of different spaces in a healthcare or aged care project:
If you want to create a calming environment
Collective Time is Shaw Contract Group’s most recent carpet tile and broadloom collection designed specifically for healthcare environments. The collection takes inspiration from the shifting light of day captured from day to night, mimicking the internal clockwork of people’s daily routines of activity and rest with soft fading gradient colours that create a sense of calm and tranquillity in spaces.
The design team from Shaw Contract Group was initially intrigued by the body’s circadian rhythm, and tracked their daily routines, including sleep and wake cycles, with wearable technology. According to the company’s blog, the metrics from this personal data served as inspiration for the range.
Each featuring different colours and patterns representing movement or calm, the three carpet tile styles are manufactured with 100 per cent PVC EcoWorx backing, which is bitumen free and has antimicrobial properties, while the two broadloom styles feature a polymer laminated woven secondary backing called Ultraloc.
Both use the 100 per cent solution dyed Eco Solution Q Extreme Nylon as their face fabric, which allows the carpet tiles to have eight times the tear strength, five times the tensile strength and two times the delamination strength of traditional tile backing.
Collective Time is Cradle-to-Cradle Silver certified, completely recyclable and made with recycled content. It was awarded a Green Star ‘Level A’ product rating, and is backed by a lifetime warranty protecting against abrasive wear, static build-up, tuft bind, edge ravel and delamination.
If you need floors to withstand the rigours of frequent cleaning
Brintons Healthcare carpets are said to “offer a wealth of benefits” for end users, but one of their key highlights include an impervious backing, which is part of the manufacturing process and not “glued on as an afterthought”.
Designed for areas that see frequent spills from coffee cups to other bodily fluids, the impervious back provides a watertight permeability to prevent liquid ingress, and has been tested to withstand the rigours of the British Spill Test. This means that when accidents happen, spills can be contained and easily cleaned, with nothing passing through into the building fabric.
It also means that regular wet cleaning is possible, although Brintons recommends supplementing it with the use of Solution Dyed Nylon, found in its Vital range – a 100 per cent Solution Dyed Nylon woven Axminster collection that is a synthetic alternative to the company’s wool blend carpets.
Vital also comes with sanitised anti-microbial treatment, which protects floors against bacterial and fungal growth with the active biocidal substances, benzisothiazolinone / octylisothiazolinone / permethrin.
If you need great slip resistance
Polysafe Verona PUR is the latest carborundum-free safety flooring collection from Polyflor, which has been built around a colour palette that mixes subtle pastel shades with bolder statement colours to create distinctive designs for front or back of house spaces. The mix of strong and light hues can be mixed and matched in tonal combinations, with accent colours used to create borders or demarcation between rooms to aid the visually impaired.
Suitable for use in showcase areas or traditional safety floor locations where wet spillages or trafficked moisture are found, the vinyl flooring product incorporates non-intrusive coloured quartz and natural recycled aggregates for improved traction. It achieves 36+ on the Pendulum Wet Test, an R10 according to AS/NZS 4586, has a surface roughness of Rz ≥20µm and meets the EN 13845 50,000 cycles abrasion test.
The 100 per cent recyclable product (via the Recofloor scheme) features the Polysafe PUR reinforcement – a cross-linked and UV cured maintenance enhancement that allows for maximum appearance retention. Verno has also achieved a GreenTag Level A Silver certification.
If you need to meet a tight time and cost budget
Altro has announced the release of “the world’s first ever adhesive-free safety floor”, the Altro XpressLay, which is installed using a tape system instead of an adhesive, allowing the product to be installed without a surface DPM.
Easily removed post-installation and re-used elsewhere, or recycled at the end of its life, the Altro LooseLay double-sided tape is supplied free of charge with the XpressLay, and formulated to work with the underside of the flooring. It can be applied on a new concrete floor, existing tiles and flaky paint, and used where traditional adhered safety flooring is inappropriate, such as for listed or temporary buildings.
The product can be straight laid or self-coved, and installed over existing sound and secure flooring surfaces such as vinyl tiles. There is no wait time for the adhesive to ‘cure’ – builders are promised “same day welding” while underfloor heating can be kept on during installation.