Change is in the air for healthcare. Whether you are in senior living, the surgery wing or the lobby of a hospital, healthcare offers great opportunities for growth, especially when it comes to flooring.

People no longer want to feel as though they are in a bright, white, sterile environment. They want to feel warm and comfortable no matter where they are, opening up an almost endless list of options in the healthcare segment.

The type of facility will narrow down the types of flooring possible. For example carpet shouldn’t be used in a room meant for surgery because it is porous and can hold onto bacteria, making patients more susceptible to diseases or infection. Whereas the surgery room is a perfect opportunity for most sheet vinyl’s to be installed because it is a nonporous surface and allows for a cleaner environment.

But this doesn’t mean carpet shouldn’t or cannot be used at all in healthcare, only that, like resilient, there are certain locations where one type of product is better than another.

Milliken , for example, is a company that has been experiencing growth in carpet in the healthcare sector. “Carpet tile is a growing trend because of the unique functionality that it offers,” said Stacy Walker, director of marketing for Milliken’s global floor covering division.

“Modular carpet provides ease of maintenance benefits in the event that a portion needs to be replaced or removed.”

The company recently introduced a modular carpet, Art Media, which Walker said has seen an increase in popularity among the healthcare sector. All Art Media products are NSF 140 certified, third-party certified carbon neutral and contain 25% recycled content, allowing the staff and the patients to participate in a cleaner environment.

Mohawk recently released a carpet and hard surface collection, Silk Road, intended for the healthcare sector. With Silk Road’s pattern and color options its choices for healthcare include public space, corridors, borders and memory care among others options.

Dominic Rice, vice president and general manager of Armstrong Commercial Flooring, noted, “What we’ve seen more recently is an increase in use of LVT, but it depends on the area. Tile, because it’s porous can’t be used in more critical areas but in the noncritical areas there has been an increase in use of LVT.”

Armstrong is offering a sheet vinyl flooring, Rejuvenations, that mimics the look of hardwood flooring. “It provides that warmer, more comforting, less institutional and a more appealing environment and still gives all the performance attributes they need for that kind of space, he explained.” The sheet vinyl is offered in over 90 designs allowing for many combinations and offerings.

CBC has also recently begun offering a PVC-free version of its LVT, Halo Free. “We are excited to add to our collection of PVC-free products,” said Chip Braulick, the company’s director of flooring. The line offers a collection of designs and colors and stays looking great with a polyester (PET) wear layer that has improved wear, scratch and scuff resistance, and clarity.

David Sheehan, Mannington’s vice president – commercial LVT, said the company is working to bring a warmer environment to healthcare. “Inspired by natural woods rather than trying to replicate them, our Design Woods bring bold, weighty grains and upscale aesthetics to LVT. Strong yet strikingly familiar, original and versatile, these are wood looks with an edge.”

Resilient flooring for many years has been the go-to product for the much of the healthcare sector because of its ease of maintenance and infection control among other advantages and manufacturers feel it will continue to grow due to future construction and renovations expected within the sector.

Shaw’s Patcraft division is seeing growth in its non-natural look in the resilient category, “I think we will continue to see growth in this area while balancing the aesthetics with the requirements needed with healthcare,” said Ridley Kinsey, director of healthcare markets. “We also look at trying to reduce cost and improve air quality by not requiring waxes, polishes or finishes on our resilient products. You can put them on if you want to but you don’t need to, and they have the right appearance which aids in reducing labor costs.”

Balancing Act

Classically Composed also offered by Patcraft, is a broadloom collection of larger patterns. “We are trying to balance design and beauty with performance and we are getting a really positive reaction in the marketplace,” said Kinsey.

The future of the healthcare industry is unknown at this point with many questions in the air about universal healthcare and what it entails. But despite the uncertainties of what the government’s new healthcare law will do, one thing is certain—as the population ages and the medical world becomes more specialized, the category will continue to be one of the bright spots in the commercial sector.

“Healthcare reform is causing a lot of changes,” said Kinsey. “There will be additional patients coming into the system while there are significant financial pressures. Many hospitals are looking to cut costs but aren’t willing to cut style and comfort as that is what many patients look for when entering a facility. There is also a large opportunity for growth in senior living for carpet and resilient flooring—especially LVT.”

With senior living predicted to almost double by the year 2030 the carpet sector is projected to see an increase in growth. In senior living there are many factors to take into account, some of the most important being acoustics and safety. Keeping in mind the slip-factor among the elderly, carpet is a popular choice in most independent senior living homes because it allows the occupants comfort, quiet and safety.

“Much of our work is in senior living facilities or healthcare work places. We see these areas of focus as an opportunity for growth in the future of the healthcare market,” said Milliken’s Walker.

“Healthcare is a key segment for us,” Armstrong’s Rice said. “We have sheet vinyl flooring, LVT, vinyl composition tile, bio-based tile and linoleum and we are there to work with the healthcare industry to find the right product for the space, to meet its needs, whatever those may be.”

Healthcare is a large part of the flooring industry and with its projected growth in the coming years there will be an increase in demand for a variety of colors, styles and types, he concluded.