High-performance hospital flooring installation solutions have some hefty demands to meet: it needs to stand up to heavy, around-the-clock foot traffic as well as medical equipment, carts, beds and more. It has to help keep staff, patients and visitors as safe as possible from slips and cushion them when falls do happen. Ideally, the flooring will help ease the repetitive stresses and strains of walking and standing for staff. Hospital flooring installation is also expected to be durable, low maintenance, aesthetically pleasing and aid in infection prevention.
With the trend in providing a home-like, comfortable feel for both patients and visitors, there has been a great deal of interest in finding sustainable resilient hospital flooring solutions. Flooring manufacturers are listening and creating greener products that are not only durable but offer expanded color lines and mimic natural elements.
Hospitals have long installed vinyl composition tile (VCT) flooring. But today you can find many greener hospital flooring installation solutions available on the market. Luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) and vinyl planks are just one example. Innovation in printing techniques is producing amazing finishes that mimic stone, wood and tile. These products offer high resiliency, high point loads to resist indentation, more sound absorption than VCT or porcelain tile, comfort and ease of maintenance.
Newer green products making their way into hospitals include rubber and linoleum. Rubber is a rapidly renewable resource. It’s very durable, soft and a good shock and sound absorber. It has a natural finish that gets better over time, is naturally antibacterial and requires low maintenance. Rubber sheet flooring offers the same aesthetics and same product specifications that vinyl can but in a more durable product.
Among the “greenest” of floors, linoleum is made from natural materials — linseed oil, resins, recycled wood flour, cork dust, limestone and mineral pigments — mounted on jute backing. It’s naturally anti-bacterial and biodegradable, as well as durable, flexible and sound absorptive. With a 30- to 40-year lifecycle, linoleum flooring can be damp cleaned, but not wet cleaned. Known for its vivid, saturated colors, linoleum flooring is available in traditional marbled patterns, solid colors, contemporary flecked designs or graphic patterns. You can also find linoleum in softer earth tones that highlight its organic qualities.
Terrazzo is another green material getting more attention. Terrazzo uses different shapes and sizes of chips, laid into a concrete bed (usually dyed), then polished to a shiny surface. They can be glass, marble, granite, stone or even mirrored. Sometimes terrazzo is more of a uniform color, but it can also include sections of different colors. It can be utilitarian, or just as beautiful and decorative as mosaic. Terrazzo’s non-porous finish does not support microbial growth, nor allow moisture to accumulate, which helps to maintain a mold-free environment with improved indoor air quality in hospitals. Terrazzo is also comprised of zero VOC materials and exhibits little or no off-gassing over the life of the floor. Terrazzo is easily cleaned and disinfected with routine procedures. Unlike carpet, terrazzo is not harmed by liquids, nor will it harbor odors and dust mites.
Designing a healing environment in the waiting area of an emergency room, or the comforts of home in a patient room help to reduce stress and create positive patient experiences. The hospital flooring needs to be part of the equation.