Selecting the right flooring for a space not only adds to its look, but experience and overall feel. That is one of the main points designers said when Floor Trendspolled them to find out just what they’re looking for when designing for commercial spaces.

 “With the various kinds of materials, colors and textures and hardness of surfaces available for flooring, there is much for a designer to play with and explore to contribute to a very sensorial experience,” saidJanani Kannan, an associate at Corgan in New York.

Kannan, who primarily works in the aviation and corporate sectors, describes flooring as the visual backdrop to the finished palette for a project.

“Flooring is a versatile element that can assume various roles within a space,” explained Mark Adams, studio leader at Smithgroup JJR. “To name a few, it can help define spaces within a space without any additional architectural elements—that can help keep the project costs low; it can be used as a way finding element; it can help impact the scale of the space, making it feel larger or smaller than it is, and it can be the fun element in the space when various textures/colors/patterns are used.”

While commercial flooring sectors among the designers varied from the healthcare industry to aviation and everything in between, one key factor remained the same across the board—durability is the most important element when they are selecting flooring for a space.

“The typical life cycle of a space is about 10 years. We want to make sure that what we specify lasts that period,” said Kannan.

It is for that reason that Adams, who primarily designs for the workplace, education, healthcare, and science and technology sectors, prefers working with porcelain tile. “The durability of the product is a huge factor. There are also so many options in [porcelain], from color, texture, pattern and size, that it allows you to be creative on so many levels.”


Other Important Factors

Aside from durability, designers named price, aesthetics and cleanability among the things they factor in when specifying flooring.

According to Peter Guelle, project architect at BG Studio International, when it comes to choosing between hard flooring and carpet, the decision is driven by function and price. Guelle and his team, who primarily specify flooring for cruise ships, regularly utilize carpet due to its weight and sound absorption, wood for aesthetics and a combination of tile for their anti-slippery properties and cleanability.

Known for their unlimited self-serve food options, cruise ships’ dining areas require flooring that is not only attractive to the eye and durable enough to withstand the around the clock foot traffic, but is easy to clean in order to meet United States Public Health (USPH) codes.

“All the surfaces have to be able to be easily wiped down, they have to be surfaces that bacteria can’t really grow on and we have to pay attention to the USPH code,” said Kaitlin Weir, senior interior designer at BG Studio International.

Also something to consider on cruise ships and other commercial spaces is acoustics, which can be controlled by flooring. “You might have a restaurant on board on one deck and then right directly below there might be cabins, so it’s important to keep the sound controlled,” she explained.

With an increased focus on recycling and sustainability, designers are turning to greener options when selecting flooring for spaces.

“With heightened awareness of sick building syndrome and the likes by users,” said Kannan, “we need to take the additional step of confirming that the product being specified conforms to the low-VOC emitting standards by ANSI at the minimum. I personally also look to see how much post-consumer recycled content the product has in it, along with the kind of recycling program that the manufacturer offers.”