Coming and Going: A Handbook for High Traffic Flooring

Sandra Drake, Vice President of Sales

Selecting the ideal high traffic commercial flooring for your space requires both design inspiration and a bit of strategy. The good news is that there are many options for aesthetically pleasing, high traffic flooring that are well-suited to nearly all industries and applications, including retail, corporate, healthcare, education, hospitality and more.

Failure to use the right flooring in high traffic areas can lead to many issues — namely, the time and costs related to maintenance, repair and replacement. Here’s a great example:

A well-known retail clothing company learned the hard way just how important high traffic flooring is for a commercial space. Instead of taking the time to understand their store layout and select high traffic flooring where it was needed most, this retail chain mistakenly went with an across-the-board flooring solution. Rather than flooring designed specifically for durability, they chose a 2mm residential flooring product with a 10mm wear layer for all of its stores.

While this decision cut costs, it ultimately led to much more maintenance and upkeep than originally anticipated. The retail company failed to realize that certain areas within its stores experience more foot traffic than others. The flooring selection didn’t account for areas where store greeters welcome customers to shop.

This example alone shows why corporations, retail giants and major healthcare companies must conduct due diligence in selecting durable flooring options for areas with high foot traffic.

Identify High Traffic Flooring Areas

The first step is to review your floor plan and identify common use areas and where furniture and equipment will be placed. While it’s easy to assume most areas within a public retail space sustain the same amount of high foot traffic, that is not always the case.

The following are some of the more common areas in need of high traffic commercial flooring:

  • Entrances and exits are naturally part of the conversation — no matter the space. It’s important to take into account the impact and conditions of your flooring. A common solution involves installing an entry system that will help cut down on the dirt and moisture brought inside. A targeted approach of 20-30 feet of walk off material addressing the outdoor entry, vestibule and beyond will proactively prevent soil from being tracked into your space.
  • Hallways and corridors are also heavily traveled, but not always from foot traffic. These popular travel routes are often used by people using wheelchairs or motorized carts. They can also see their fair share of people wheeling suitcases, dollies and carts, depending on the type of building.
  • Common areas, such as lobbies, cafeterias and waiting rooms, all endure an incredible amount of foot traffic, not to mention the aforementioned issue with debris being tracked in from outside.

High Traffic Flooring Solutions by Industry

Rugged Retail Flooring

high traffic flooring

Retail flooring requires not only a great design, but also flexible layout options that withstand heavy foot traffic and provide continual comfort so customers can shop with ease.

For example, a grocery store’s U- or C-shaped configuration means customers are shopping for essential products along the perimeter, resulting in heavy foot traffic. These floors also need to withstand utility and shopping carts and the occasional spill.

Multi-Family Flooring Matters

Parterre Flooring Chosen for High-End Luxury Apartments

In a multi-family apartment building, the entrances, exits, hallways and lobbies see a lot of activity, which means a high traffic flooring solution is necessary.
Other high traffic areas to consider include:

  • Elevator entrance and elevator
  • Mail rooms
  • Floor(s) with a garbage chute
  • Laundry room

Restaurant Resiliency

Parterre Hospitality Flooring DemocracyBrewing_2

Project: Democracy Brewing | Design: Embarc Studio | Photo: © 2018 flauntboston.com

When selecting restaurant flooring, remember that there are other places that handle heavy foot traffic in addition to entrances, exits and pathways to seating. Consider these busy areas within the hospitality industry:

  • Space in front of cash registers
  • Bar and lounge areas
  • Area leading in and out of the kitchen

A Lesson in Educational Flooring

high traffic flooring

Students at colleges and universities are always on the move — meaning many of the facilities and buildings experience extremely heavy foot traffic. Don’t forget these heavily frequented areas within academia:

  • Areas leading in and out of every building or residential hall on campus
  • Cafeterias/dining halls
  • Gymnasiums
  • Libraries
  • Waiting room of admissions offices and health centers
  • Area directly in front of an information booth or kiosk

5 Benefits of High Traffic Commercial Flooring

When it comes to high traffic flooring, few products compare to the durability of hardwood and LVT flooring. Unlike carpet, which in busy spaces can be matted, crushed and stained, both hardwood flooring and LVT can handle an onslaught of heavy traffic and use. Benefits of LVT and hardwood in high traffic areas include:

  1. Ease of maintenance — Both are easy to clean and if repairs are needed, there is minimal disruption to the space.
  2. Durability — LVT and hardwood come in a variety of thicknesses and hardness levels, which ensures superior durability for commercial interiors.
  3. Design — With hardwood, no two pieces are alike, so you’re guaranteed to get a unique and beautiful flooring design every time. If you opt for LVT, advances in production methods allow for a countless number of style and design opportunities that mirror natural elements, such as stone, metal and ceramics.
  4. Size variety – Hardwood flooring is available in a number of plank lengths and widths, while LVT is available in both the plank and tile variety, meaning there are many different size options to choose from.
  5. Water resistance – LVT and hardwood are water resistant, allowing for use in high traffic areas such as entryways in commercial spaces. It’s still important to remember that spills should be cleaned up as soon as possible.

FAQs on Commercial Flooring

Q: What thickness and wear layer should I use in my commercial space?
A: The overall thickness of the flooring should be 2.5–6mm in overall thickness. Depending on the conditions, foot traffic and location will also be a factor in selecting the correct LVT or hardwood flooring for your space. The performance of the wear layer you select also impacts the floor’s performance. The minimum recommended thickness in wear layers for commercial use is 20 mil.

Q: What should my gloss level be on commercial flooring?
A: LVT and hardwood were designed to be low maintenance products for commercial spaces. A standard matte gloss level gives you the most natural appearance while reducing glare.

Q: Should I use a finish or wax for my commercial LVT or hardwood?
A: Commercial LVT was designed to be low maintenance. When you add additional finishes or wax, you need to maintain it on a regular basis by stripping off the old wax and reapplying. In some high traffic areas, an additional finish can be applied but it’s not necessary.

For hardwood flooring mechanically or chemically modifying the factory finish will typically void the finish warranty. Also, any additional sanding, waxing, staining, or refinishing of hardwood floors can compromise the factory-applied finishes which perform much better than any store-bought solution.

Q: What role does design play in the long-term durability and appearance of my commercial flooring?
A: It’s important to remain cognizant of the type of foot traffic in the area; try using pattern and texture to assist with reducing the appearance of traffic patterns as well as masks visible signs of dirt, spots, or scuffs until routine maintenance.

At Parterre, we recognize that every design project should be approached carefully and creatively. Our vast collection of LVT and hardwood products are featured in hundreds of retail and hospitality establishments, healthcare facilities, corporate offices and educational institutions throughout the country.

Our quality crafted, premium hardwood and LVT features an unmatched array of design possibilities. Contact us today to learn more. Samples are also available upon request.