Masks, protective barriers, and social distancing are the new status quo in businesses, schools, and other public facilities. As COVID-19 has everyone focused on making their environment safer, there’s one area that might be overlooked: flooring. Carpeting, tile joints, and tile grout can harbor bacteria that continually gets released into the air from heavy traffic and use, but other types of flooring are more sanitary.
Do you know if your flooring is helping or hindering your sanitation efforts? Now is a great time to evaluate how your flooring can help create a more sterile, safer environment.
Beyond simple precautionary measures, some facilities are taking on larger remodeling projects to create more distance between staff, students, and visitors and improve the flow of people throughout their space. Another measure to take that will help increase safety and hygiene is to replace less-sanitary flooring with non-porous, seamless flooring.
Seamless Floors: The Ultimate Protection
In areas of heavy traffic or that have a high potential for moisture or spills, seamless synthetic urethane and acrylic flooring provides the ultimate protection. A seamless floor has no intermediate joints, crevices, or porous material where harmful bacteria can collect. In the case where someone sneezes or coughs in your environment, bacteria or viruses can land on a synthetic floor, but it won’t absorb into it. Unlike carpet or grout, which are notorious for holding germs and bacteria, seamless synthetic floors can be easily cleaned and maintained, keeping the floor sanitary and germ-free.
Regular sweeping and mopping will keep synthetic urethane and acrylic floors clean and well-maintained. Because they’re non-porous and seamless, they resist mold, are less prone to staining, and don’t retain odors from spills. Because urethane and epoxy are solid surfaces, synthetic floors don’t see the kind of wear and damage other flooring can. Vinyl and other types of non-seamless flooring can sustain damage when using heavy carts or equipment on a regular basis. If a floor incurs damage, generally the potential for additional damage increases over time, giving bacteria more room to hide and adding to your costs for repairs or replacement.
Certified Flooring for Peak Environmental Benefits
Being conscious of the safety and quality of your environment should extend beyond the building. Look for flooring and materials that offer not only the performance and sanitation you need, but also contain materials that are safer for the planet.
Flooring that is FloorScore-certified ensures that the flooring contains low volatile organic compounds (VOC) and will provide superior indoor air quality (IAC). Because of their low VOC level, installation of these certified floors does not require building evacuation, so facilities can remain functional outside of the direct remodel area. The Environmental Protection Agency describes IAC as “the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns.”
FloorScore-certified flooring meets indoor air quality emissions requirements and specification criteria such as California Specification 01350 Special Environmental Requirements, Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), USGBC LEED 2009 and v4 criteria for low emitting materials (Flooring and Flooring Adhesives).
Choosing a floor that will improve your immediate needs for sanitation while also supporting the long-term needs of the planet is a great way to have an even bigger impact with your flooring upgrade.
Don’t Overlook the Obvious
While people walk on flooring throughout the day, they might not think of it as a major source of sanitation. With today’s increased focus on hygiene in public spaces, it’s important to consider the impact your flooring has on people’s health and wellness. From viruses like COVID-19 to less serious annoyances like headaches and sinus congestion, the quality and material of your flooring can make a difference in lowering the spread of illness or allergens. Flooring can take up many square feet of space, so its significance is greater than we might expect. As you make improvements to the sanitation of your facility, be sure not to overlook the opportunity that’s right under your feet.