Coming and Going: A Handbook to High Traffic Flooring
Selecting flooring for areas with heavy foot traffic, whether it be inside retail, corporate, healthcare, education or hospitality spaces, requires a unique design strategy — one that revolves around asking the right questions for the right situations.
Failure to use high traffic flooring in environments that experience heavy foot traffic can lead to a multitude of issues — namely, the time and costs related to repair and replacement. Here’s a great example:
A well-known retail clothing company not long ago learned the hard way just how important high traffic flooring is for a commercial space.
Instead of taking the time needed 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 high foot traffic, this major retailer chose a 2mm residential flooring product with a 10mm wear layer for all of its stores.
While this decision ended up cutting costs, it ultimately led to much more maintenance and upkeep than originally anticipated.
What the retail company failed to realize is that certain areas within its stores experience more foot traffic than others.
For example, the flooring selection didn’t account for areas where store greeters stand and welcome customers to shop.
What ended up happening is that the continual practice of having these greeters standing in the same spot, shuffling their feet back and forth, led to excessive decay of the floor’s wear layer — thereby necessitating an investment in both time and money to repair the flooring.
This story alone shows why corporations, retail giants and major healthcare companies must give due diligence in selecting flooring products for the most frequented areas of their space.
How to Identify Areas in Need of High Traffic Flooring
The first crucial step to take prior to selecting your high traffic flooring is to actually determine the areas in need of such flooring. While it’s easy to assume most all 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 flooring:
- Entrances and exits are naturally always part of the conversation in terms of high foot traffic areas — no matter the space. Depending upon the outside conditions, it’s important to take into account the influence of outside material on your flooring. A common solution involves installing a matting system that will help cut down on the debris being brought inside. Anywhere from 15 to 30 feet of matting can serve as a suitable distance of walk-off space.
- Hallways and corridors are similar to entrances and exits in that they represent some of the most heavily traveled areas within a space — no matter the use. But it isn’t just foot traffic, hallways and corridors often serve as popular travel routes for people using wheelchairs or motorized carts, or people carrying suitcases, dollies, carts, etc.
- 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.
However, the more you narrow down the actual design of the individual space in question, only then can you ascertain opportunities and best uses for high traffic flooring. Here are a few examples of where high traffic flooring makes sense — but is often overlooked.
High Traffic Flooring Solutions by Industry
Attention Supermarket Shoppers!
In a retail environment, such as a grocery store, it is widely known that the desired flow of customers is specifically designed into the layout of the store, as well as the location of certain necessary food items (eggs and milk tend to be in the area far away and opposite from the entrance).
Supermarkets are more specifically designed in a U or C-shape that has a customer walking around the perimeter of the store for essential products like produce, meat, eggs and milk, and deviating from the path to search out other important food products located in individual aisles.
Some of the areas with the highest traffic areas are along the perimeter of the store, which more often than not include:
- Frozen food
In addition, don’t forget about the place every shopper must visit to pay for their groceries — the checkout area.
Multi-Family Flooring Matters
In a residential building, such as a multi-family apartment building, the entrance, exits, hallways and lobby are naturally going to experience heavy foot traffic.
Other, oft-overlooked, areas of high foot traffic include:
- Entrance way into an elevator
- Space in front of a cluster of mailboxes
- Floor(s) with a garbage chute
- Laundry room
A restaurant space is a very busy place; however, some areas are busier than others.
When selecting high traffic flooring, remember that it isn’t just the entrances, exits and pathways to seating that handle the heaviest foot traffic. Have you considered these other busy areas within the hospitality industry?
- Space in front of cash registers
- Bar and lounge space
- Area leading in and out of the kitchen
A Lesson in Educational Flooring
Students at colleges and universities are always on the move — meaning many of the facilities and buildings within these learning institutions 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
- Waiting room of Admissions and Health Center
- Area directly in front of an information booth or kiosk
Benefits of High Traffic Vinyl Flooring
When it comes to high traffic flooring, few products compare to luxury vinyl tile and plank. Unlike carpet, which in busy spaces can be matted, crushed and stained, vinyl can handle an onslaught of heavy traffic and abuse. Benefits of high traffic vinyl flooring include:
- Ease of Maintenance — High traffic vinyl flooring is easy to clean and repair, meaning minimal disruption to the flow of any individual space.
- Durability — High traffic vinyl comes in a variety of wear layers, ensuring superior durability and stability for commercial interiors.
- Variety of Design Options — Revolutionary advances in production methods allow for a countless number of high traffic vinyl flooring design options.
- Long-Term ROI — The combination of fashionable, easy-to-coordinate designs backed by a luxury vinyl product that is durable and stable undoubtedly leads to a favorable return on investment.
Questions to Ask Prior to Purchasing High Traffic Vinyl Flooring
What thickness and wear layer should I have for my high traffic flooring?
The overall thickness of the flooring is recommended to be anywhere from 2 to 5mm depending on where it’s installed, which will help with the overall durability of your flooring selection. The performance of the wear layer of the vinyl flooring you select also impacts several aspects of the floor’s performance, namely the clarity of design. The recommended minimum thickness for a commercial wear layer is 20mil.
What should my gloss level be on my high traffic vinyl flooring?
The gloss level of your vinyl flooring also plays an important role in ensuring not only that the clarity of the design shines through, but that the flooring gives the appearance of having been cleaned and finished.
A standard matte gloss level will give you the most natural appearance, cutting down on glare, while other levels (gloss, high gloss and semi-gloss, etc.) can lead to further light reflection of the flooring.
Should I use a finish for my high traffic vinyl flooring?
Applying a finish to your vinyl flooring makes sense if the product is prone to scuffing and scratching. The finish applied serves as a protective barrier between the various threats and the product itself.
What role does design play in the long-term durability and appearance of my vinyl flooring?
It’s important to remain cognizant of the color, pattern and texture of the vinyl flooring you select because the schemes you create can help visually break up any imperfections such as dirt, spots or scuffs. Mid-range colors in particular can especially hide imperfections in comparison to light or dark colors. However, if you choose to use a light or dark color, mixing two or three different light designs or dark colors in one installation is also a good way to break up any imperfections.
At Parterre Flooring Systems, we recognize that every design project should be approached carefully and creatively. Our vast collection of luxury vinyl flooring products are featured in hundreds of well-known retailers, hospitality establishments, healthcare facilities, corporate offices and educational institutions throughout the country.
Our quality crafted, premium vinyl flooring features an unmatched array of design possibilities. Contact us today to learn more about why we’re an industry leader in crafting plank and tile flooring with a strong focus on clarity, durability and stability. Sample flooring is also available upon request.
High Traffic Flooring
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