The choice of floor covering products usually is made on the basis of cost, durability, maintenance, and aesthetics. Commercial carpet and hard-surface flooring, such as vinyl, must be assessed on the basis of installation, cleaning, and maintenance, plus frequency of removal and replacement due to loss of appearance. Carpet maintenance is generally six times the purchase price of the carpet over its lifespan. Data from comparative tests has shown that vinyl floor coverings can be almost twice as costly to maintain as carpet under comparable circumstances. But for environments such as healthcare facilities, hard-surface flooring for common areas is the most practical to maintain due to health and safety requirements.

Also a factor when choosing between carpet and hard surface flooring is their ability to provide therapeutic value to the environment. A recent study found that, among other things, long-term healthcare consumers want an environment conducive to well-being. Carpet can help reduce environmental stresses such as noise and provide visual comfort through color and texture; although, manufacturers of hard-flooring are providing a new array of nature-inspired designs that contribute to a more relaxing environment as opposed to traditional institutional designs.

The main issue in deciding on floor covering depends on what market you're in. For the corporate market the biggest issues are aesthetics and cost and that usually boils down to choosing mostly carpet. If you're looking at healthcare, maintenance and durability, in which case mostly hard-surface is specified.

A plan of action

Facility managers must be proactive when it comes to maintenance programs by testing small samples of products with typical spills in their facility. And contact suppliers about recommendations and arrange for them to carry out 'in service' training as part of the negotiations in purchasing a floor covering product. The cost to maintain the aesthetics is what facility managers should look at. Facility managers should guard the door, guard the dirt. The least expensive way to maintain a building is to keep the dirt on the other side of the door. The other most important thing is for facility managers to evaluate flooring cost on a per year basis, including maintenance, as opposed to initial cost per sq.ft.

Facility managers need to strategically dissect their facility. It is important to understand the different performance expectations of various areas within the building. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to offer the customer the best solution, even if that means saying no to business if they don't offer the appropriate product. There are multiple floor covering solutions to outfit a facility. No one product will be suitable for all locations. In every facility there will be areas for which hard-flooring is appropriate and others where carpet is a practical choice. The two products complement each other.

Added support

Too many times things are over or under specified; the sales people are there to support the customer in making decisions. Facility managers are working with manufacturers that they can never provide too much information. The manufacturer should know all of the possible elements that the floor may have to endure. Even if a certain situation may only happen once, it is important because that one time may be enough to ruin the appearance and performance of the floor.

Manufacturers are reaching out to help customers navigate floor covering decisions. Rather than choose from all options, customers are given a menu of products and services that have been customized for their needs. Projects such as reclamation, product design, and installation are all available.

When faced with making the call between carpet and hard-flooring, research is essential and knowing the varied needs of your facility is priceless.

Author's Bio: 

Julian Arhire is a Manager with - carries more than 35,000 HVAC products, including industrial, commercial and residential parts and equipment from Honeywell, Johnson Contols, Robertshaw, Jandy, Grundfos, Armstrong and more.