Choosing and installing the correct commercial floor covering can be a detailed and complicated process that necessarily looks beyond aesthetic preference and examines every aspect of the installation, beginning with the substrate and its condition and ending with the required maintenance regimen once the flooring is installed.

To help simplify much of this complexity, some large flooring distributors, such as Fishman Flooring Solutions, have added architecture and design consultants to their staffs. These specialists add value to the specialty dealer and/or contractor because they have the expertise to evaluate a flooring project in its entirety, are knowledgeable about a wide range of flooring installation products and can identify and troubleshoot problems that may occur with an installation.

Time is Money

In today’s fast-track construction environment, being able to react quickly to a flooring issue is often crucial in meeting project deadlines, particularly since flooring is typically one of the last elements of a construction project to be addressed. When problems occur, and they often do, the project team is left scrambling under tight time constraints to make decisions about the flooring installation, which could have serious implications for the entire project.

In situations like this, where time is of the essence, having access to a flooring distributor’s architecture and design consultant can pay significant dividends, saving architects, designers, specifiers, project and facility managers, building owners, and floor covering service providers considerable time and, equally important, making their lives easier.

Put simply, an experienced consultant is a single source of information on virtually any aspect of flooring whose input into the decision-making process can often shave days off an installation schedule by:

  • Providing comprehensive information on product options for every single aspect of the flooring installation.
  • Identifying and recommending—based on experience—those products that are best suited for any specific flooring situation.
  • Partnering with the sales force to manage the logistics of getting all flooring-related materials to the job site as efficiently and effectively as possible—an invaluable service because the success of a flooring installation often rests on the timely delivery of materials in the proper sequence from a variety of sources, some of which may be overseas.
  • Providing project committees and facility boards with technical data, warranty details, compatibility information and specification requirements for any product used in the installation.
  • Serving as a focal point for communicating solutions to problems and changes to the job to everyone involved with the flooring project.

In today’s cost-conscious economic environment, value engineering is an all-too-frequent occurrence in commercial construction projects. Unfortunately, value engineering can sacrifice quality for the sake of near-term cost savings, which may ultimately result in higher costs over the life of the installed floor.

However, there is always a middle ground in product selection, where costs can be reduced without affecting the quality of the job. Architecture and design consultants, who represent multi-line flooring distributors, are uniquely qualified to help find that middle ground thanks to the breadth of their product portfolios.

My company, Fishman Flooring Solutions offers a case in point. The firm distributes within its footprint approximately 36,000 products representing 75 vendors. This includes eight lines of high-performance commercial flooring, seven lines of products for moisture remediation and substrate preparation, and 13 lines of adhesives. Fishman’s architecture and design consultants can readily provide information on each of its products, including performance attributes and price points, and can work with the project team to select the right product for the job from the right manufacturer at the right price without sacrificing quality.

In addition, the expertise of an experienced architecture and design consultant generally extends well beyond product information to include floor preparation and installation techniques that may help reduce costs without sacrificing project integrity.

A good architecture and design consultant can also include information on moisture testing and remediation methods, self-leveling underlayment, and substrate repair, which can be written into the job specifications on a contingency basis. As a result, members of the project team will have a pre-approved plan of action for coordinating budget allowances.

The floor covering world is constantly evolving as new products, solutions and installation techniques emerge on a near daily basis. It is not unique to have as many as five new commercial flooring products introduced in a single month.

In addition, manufacturers are constantly tweaking formulations, changing color lines or extending existing product lines.

Keeping pace with product introductions or changes in existing products can be as challenging and time-consuming as it is important. An excellent resource for this information, and for literature to keep libraries up-to-date, is architecture and design consultants, whose job is to stay on top of new or improved products from their firm’s manufacturing or vendor partners.


The Earlier the Consultation the Better

Architecture and design consultants are often asked to perform “triage” when a flooring installation goes radically off course, but they pay the greatest dividends when they are involved in the conceptual stage of a flooring installation.

An early consultation enables the consultant to review the entire project from start to finish, develop a comprehensive plan for installing the flooring in a timely and coordinated way, and develop a realistic budget and timeline for the project.

The best way to begin the consultation process is to contact the local branch of a flooring product distributor that offers architecture and design consulting and ask for a referral. Look for a company that has a good reputation and a broad selection of commercial flooring products, including materials for properly preparing substrates before the flooring is installed.

The ultimate goal of a flooring distributor’s architecture and design consultant is to partner with architects, designers, specifiers and others on a project team to ensure the flooring installation flows seamlessly from concept and specification to the completion of the job.

This often results in time and cost savings, fewer headaches for everyone involved and, ultimately, a satisfied client or end user—which is something everyone wants.

Rowan Brosam, an architecture and design consultant with Fishman Flooring Solutions, has 14 years of experience in the flooring industry. She estimates that, on average, she consults on more than 200 flooring installation projects each year. She can be reached at or (412) 303-0078.