Create a healthy space beginning from the ground up with the right flooring selection
By LAUREN ODDO
The key to a healthy floor starts with a clean floor and the easiest way to get that is to use a product that has antimicrobial properties and is able to be easily cleaned and disinfected. In the next couple of sections we’ll get into some of the unique ways flooring is made to repel dirt, clean and disinfect easily. That said, the most important thing about flooring is, of course, color! Did you know there’s a science to color selection? We’ll get more into that toward the end!
The easiest way to keep an environment clean and healthy is to start at the source. Since we can’t eliminate dirt and contaminates completely in most environments, this means choosing product(s) that don’t allow for bacteria to grow and spread. Hard plastic flooring products such as luxury vinyl and rubber are great options that provide the bacterial resistance you need in medical facilities, as well as at home! Cork flooring is also becoming more common in residential applications since it has naturally occurring antimicrobial properties and has the added benefit of being an extremely renewable resource.
Vinyl and rubber flooring engineered for hospital, surgery centers and other commercial uses often has an antimicrobial/antibacterial additive incorporated throughout the wear layer of the product. This antibacterial property does not wear off anytime during the life of the product because it is embedded throughout the finish.
But how does it work? The antimicrobial agent in the finish stops the growth of organisms inhibiting their ability to reproduce and stopping them from spreading. Since it’s embedded throughout the wear layer and not just a thin coat on the surface of the product, the antimicrobial properties last throughout the lifetime of the wear layer.
As you can imagine, some surfaces are easier cleaned that others. When it comes to wiping something clean from general messes and dirt, a smooth product is going to make cleaning easier than something with a grit or heavy texture. That said, texture helps hide some amount of dust and dirt so it can’t be seen in the first place, as well as, providing more traction and slip-resistance. The key is to find the right amount of texture that hides just what you need it to while still wiping clean easily.
Texture is not to be confused with porosity, although textured surface made of the same elements of a smooth or polished surface will always absorb and retain dirt more, just because a product has texture does not always mean the product is porous. Porosity depends more on what the material is made of. Natural stone, for example, while beautiful, is extremely porous before a sealer is applied to protect the material.
Besides simply wiping clean, sometimes it’s pertinent to be able to disinfect the floors as well. There’s a multitude of ways to do this – but depending on the floor you choose, certain methods may not be applicable. The great thing about luxury vinyl is that since it, in itself, is antimicrobial, you don’t need to use harsh cleaners to clean disinfect the product. Typically a specific vinyl floor cleaner is recommended for daily cleaning, and for disinfecting a solution of water and white vinegar is recommended.
This is a little bit more complex than one might think! There’s so many things that play a role in color science including individual perception, cultural influence. Have you ever noticed that red is the most common color for a dining room or fast food logo? That’s because science has proven that red activates and stimulates appetite.
Using specific colors on the floors, you can engender different actions and reactions from those in the building. Want to discourage walking in a certain area? Make the floors white! There’s something about a pristine white floor that tells people not to step on it. Looking to energize your employees? Consider an orange or yellow floor! Orange and yellow are both energizing colors that stimulate the mind and encourage activity. To the contrary, if you’re looking to create a serene, peaceful break room, colors like blue and green are often associated with relaxation and would be great options to choose from!
When designing a space, no matter what setting, the flooring acts as the backwash of the design canvas. To make separate sections of a large space flow together, you can use the same flooring throughout every space to create a cohesive look throughout. On the opposite end, if you’re looking to make a space pop or define it in some way, you can change the flooring to allow for visual contrast that can divide a space without using a physical barrier.
Lauren Oddo has been with US Design Source for six years managing sales and specifying products. Upon graduating from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship, she sought a career that would allow her to combine her love for home design and education in entrepreneurship into one passion. The owners of US Design Source, Michael and Ginny Hill, have been part of the Orlando flooring and building industry for over 50 years. As a company, we've installed hundreds of thousands of square feet of flooring throughout Central Florida.