There are many considerations when choosing the right flooring for healthcare. From factors such as cleanliness and hygiene to durability, as well as the cost and which flooring is best suited for each area. Healthcare flooring can provide its own set of unique challenges. In this guide, we’ll explore and address the different healthcare flooring options available.
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Vinyl sheet flooring
Vinyl flooring, in particular sheet vinyl, is a popular flooring option for healthcare premises including hospitals. Sheet vinyl flooring has become an immensely popular healthcare flooring over the years. Usually coming in rolls, sheet vinyl can be fitted with minimal seams.
Vinyl sheet flooring is made from multiple layers of synthetic materials that are bonded with a felt or foam backing. Unlike other vinyl flooring options, vinyl sheet floorings come in rolls, in much the same way as carpet, as opposed to individual tiles. A printed design layer is used on the top side.
As the design is printed, there is a greater variety of design choices. Vinyl sheets can also come in a range of different thicknesses, depending on the needs of the flooring. What makes sheet vinyl so popular, particularly in healthcare, is its suitability for all areas.
Sheet vinyl also includes a ‘wear and tear’ layer that is topped with a clear coating. Adding this top layer helps prevent any stains and scuffs. The design layer previously mentioned is placed underneath this protective top layer.
Sheet vinyl backing layers help to give the flooring a soft underfoot feel. For this reason, vinyl sheet flooring is becoming popular in treatment areas and nursing stations that are in constant use and may have people standing up for long periods.
Providing the vinyl flooring is looked after, it’s the ideal flooring for healthcare and can last despite heavy usage.
Benefits of vinyl sheet flooring
Vinyl sheet flooring has many benefits that make it an ideal flooring for health:
One of the biggest advantages of vinyl sheet flooring for healthcare is the ease of cleaning and maintenance. Hygiene is of paramount importance in healthcare so floors that promote cleanliness are ideal.
The surface is also considered to be effective at repelling microorganisms, such as bacteria.
Another great benefit of sheet vinyl flooring for health is its durability. Healthcare flooring, particularly in hospitals, will need to withstand a lot of foot traffic and heavy loads constantly wheeled around.
Some areas, such as hospital corridors, will be in use 24 hours a day and will require strong flooring. Vinyl sheet is a highly durable flooring option that makes it suited for busy healthcare environments. No wonder it’s become such as popular flooring choice for hospitals.
Other benefits of sheet vinyl include:
- Easiness to install helping reduce disruption
- Cost-effective, particularly where tight budgets may be a concern
- Softer underfoot compared to other hard-surface flooring options
Rubber flooring is one the most popular options available for hospital premises. Usually made from synthetic materials, rubber flooring shares similar benefits to sheet vinyl. Rubber flooring is also supplied in rolls, the same as sheet vinyl.
As with sheet vinyl, rubber flooring is extremely hard-wearing making it an ideal flooring for busy hospital environments, such as wards and corridors. Rubber flooring is also a great choice for communal areas as well.
The reason rubber flooring is extremely durable is during manufacturing as the mould is left for a few days to allow the rubber to harden. There’s also the option for demarcation, which can help to indicate walkways in corridors and ward areas.
Resin floors, which are made from hardwearing plastic, are another similar flooring choice that is popular in heavy-use environments. Resin floors are also highly durable and make an ideal choice for emergency and operating rooms as they are extremely hygienic.
Benefits of rubber flooring
Just like sheet vinyl, rubber flooring is hygienic and extremely easy to clean making it an ideal flooring for healthcare.
Rubber flooring is also very cost-effective. Not only is rubber flooring significantly cheaper compared to other flooring alternatives on the market, but the flooring will also last a long time due to its extremely hard-wearing nature.
Other benefits of rubber flooring include:
- Extremely hardwearing
- Sound dampening
- Versatile design choices
- Shock absorbent
Luxury vinyl flooring
Luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) is starting to see a rise in usage within healthcare premises. Both sheet vinyl and luxury vinyl are made from the same vinyl material, with both consisting of 4 layers (LVT sometimes has 5 layers).
However, the major difference between sheet vinyl and LVT is the amount of material that’s used.
Luxury vinyl tiles use much more material than sheet vinyl to help create a much better performing flooring option. In most cases, luxury vinyl tiles also look much better than sheet vinyl due to the higher printing quality of the pattern. Sometimes, LVT can be 5x thicker than sheet vinyl.
An average sheet of vinyl flooring may be around 1mm or 2mm in thickness. With LVT, that increases to 5mm. It’s this difference in thickness that helps to create a much more resilient flooring choice. There’s also a thicker ‘wear and tear’ layer too for added protection against scuffs and marks.
While luxury vinyl tiles are usually a popular domestic flooring option, many commercial environments have started to use LVT due to the stylish designs combined with other perks, such as durability.
Even some healthcare premises have started to use LVT due to the stylish designs in entrance areas. Café and restaurant areas can also implement LVT to help create a comfortable relaxing environment.
Benefits of LVT
The biggest benefit of LVT over sheet vinyl is the higher quality. Not only is LVT a durable and hard-wearing flooring option, but it also has a much higher quality printed design. Due to this quality, LVT is an ideal flooring to use in entrance areas, such as main reception desks.
Using LVT in public-facing areas can help to create a positive first impression on those visiting a healthcare establishment.
Another reason that makes LVT an ideal choice for use in healthcare is its durability. LVT is made to last. A much thicker design than sheet vinyl helps it stand up well against scratching. The thicker ‘wear and tear’ layer helps a lot here too.
Providing LVT is well looked after, it can stand up well against heavy foot traffic.
LVT is also easy to install, which is another great reason for considering this flooring type in healthcare. LVT has 3 different installation methods. These are glue down, loose lay, and rigid core. Some methods, such as glue down, require an adhesive to stick the tiles down making them firmer. However, other methods, such as loose lay, does not require an adhesive and can be installed much quicker. Loose lay installation involves tightly laying the tiles together quickly and easy to prevent them from slipping.
The quicker installation methods help reduce the disruption caused to healthcare premises while still ensuring a high-quality flooring.
Other benefits of LVT include:
- Flexibility in installation layout
- Design versatility
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Sound absorbent
- Scratch resistant
Some healthcare environments have started to incorporate carpet, whether it be a traditional rolled carpet or carpet tiles. Carpets are being used within certain care settings to help create a homely and therapeutic environment.
Helping to create a much more homely look, carpet can play a crucial role in creating a relaxing environment that can help to reduce stress. Carpet also acts as an indoor air filter too, helping to trap and prevent dust and pathogens from staying airborne.
Installing carpets in healthcare environments, such as care environments, help provide soft underfoot flooring alongside providing acoustic soundproofing properties. Using carpet can be a cost-effective and easy install flooring option.
Carpet tiles are a popular carpet option that provides much greater flexibility and versatility compared to rolled carpets. Carpet tiles come in pre-cut tiles, typically square, from larger rolls. The tiles then combine together during installation (either with an adhesive or stapled down).
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However, a concern that is often raised about using carpets within a healthcare environment is the spread of bacteria. Research has found that certain pathogens survive for a shorter period on carpets as opposed to other smooth floors, such as vinyl.
Some carpets are also treated with anti-microbial yarn coating. The anti-microbial coating creates a barrier that permanently protects against microbes. Carpets with an impervious layer also help prevent bacteria and mould growth too.
With the advancements that have been made in improving carpet hygiene, as well as the other benefits outlined above, make carpet a healthcare flooring choice that shouldn’t be ignored.
Every healthcare environment and room will have different flooring requirements and needs. With so many different flooring options to pick from, there’s no need for healthcare flooring to be boring. As well as providing practical benefits, many flooring options above have great design versatility allowing you to find a floor that not only works well but looks great too.
E&M Services and healthcare flooring
If you would like to find out more about healthcare and hospital flooring, get in touch with E&M Services. We’ve been installing flooring solutions for healthcare premises for over 25 years and gained vast and extensive experience working in these specialist environments.
We have experience in installing flooring in every hospital environment and have worked with hundreds of NHS and trust specialists. Our portfolio lists some healthcare projects we’ve worked on. We’ve even worked at installing quality flooring installations throughout the night while patients are asleep to minimise daytime disruptions.
Whatever your healthcare flooring needs, E&M Services can help. Speak to us today for more information, free samples, or quotes.
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