Tiles, vinyl and epoxy: Considerations when selecting commercial flooring
Whether it be offices, restaurants, medical facilities, retail or storage rooms, floors need to be durable. But each commercial space has different requirements and experience varying conditions, which means not every flooring solution will be right for your needs. Here we look at the pros and cons of three popular options – tiles, vinyl and epoxy – to help you choose the best solution for your floor.
The advantage of tiles lies in their aesthetic. There are endless colours and patterns, as well as sizes and materials, to choose from to get the look you want for your space.
Chris Bauer, Head of Flooring at Hychem said that while tiles look good, and surface spills and dust can be wiped away easily, the final installation is not seamless.
“There are a number of problems that arise with seamed flooring in commercial environments. For instance, while tiles may look good when they are first installed, constant traffic and exposure to contaminants such as waste or cleaning chemicals can stain the grout lines, making the floor look old or unkempt even if the tiles themselves look clean,” Mr Bauer said.
“But most importantly for commercial floors, tiles can become unhygienic very quickly as there is a high chance of water penetrating the grout lines and joins, allowing bacteria to breed and spread. Furthermore, any waste that falls on the floor will allow bacteria to spread even if it is washed away.”
Tiles are also not practical for areas exposed to heavy mechanical and temperature impacts, whether these are constant or even one-off occurrences, as they are easily cracked and broken which can create safety and health concerns should the damage go unattended, and is costly to fix.
“While tiles can provide huge options in terms of aesthetics, most commercial environments need to meet strict standards in terms of OHS which tiles may not necessarily meet. Tiles can be costly to maintain in the long term and their ability to harbour bacteria makes them inappropriate for pharmaceutical and food industries,” Mr Bauer said.
For many years, vinyl has been a popular choice for flooring in medical facilities, schools and commercial kitchens as, if installed correctly, it is highly water resistant and can be used in a wide range of areas.
“Vinyl is highly durable and resilient to most oils and chemicals, is easy to clean and maintain, and doesn’t break or shatter like tiles,” Mr Bauer said.
However, because vinyl is only a few micrometers thick, it is prone to wear. As it is not seamless it also has a tendency to lift or become distorted, so in these areas and where it has worn away, bacteria can breed and spread rapidly, and mold and mildew can grow.
“This creates a significant hygiene issue, making vinyl inappropriate for anywhere where strict hygiene standards need to be met,” Mr Bauer said.
“Vinyl peeling away also creates an uneven surface, which is a trip hazard for customers and workers passing through the area.
“Furthermore, while the flexibility of vinyl may be an advantage during installation, this also means it can’t withstand heavy loads or impact so some distortion is to be expected. Any bumps or indents on the floor beneath that weren’t properly attended to during preparation will eventually be seen through the vinyl.”
In recent years, epoxy floor coatings have been gaining popularity as a commercial flooring option as they are highly customisable and easy to maintain. There are a number of options when it comes to coatings and clients can select a product based on its chemical, impact and slip resistance to meet the needs of the area.
Epoxy coatings are also 100 per cent seamless which makes them completely impervious to liquids and leaves no place for bacteria to breed. They can also be used for rehabilitation as well as for new installations.
A wide number of variations can be achieved to provide the best solution for the commercial environment including non-slip, chemical resistance, mechanical and temperature impact resistance, traffic resistance, dust proof, and oil and grease resistance.
There are also a number options available to customise the floor aesthetic.
“If you want a solid colour, products like Hychem’s SL20 or Viacor Elastic SKY are ideal for achieving a glossy, impervious, easy-to-clean, hygienic and seamless floor. They come in a variety of solid colours so clients can choose the colour that best suits their space,” Mr Bauer said.
“There is also the option of using a product like HyFlake which gives floors a speckled decorative finish.
“At Hychem we manufacture a range of epoxies with different characteristics to suit every application, tailoring our products to meet the specific needs of the client. And ensure the final product complies with relevant standards.”
As with any flooring solution, preparation and installation is crucial. Selecting a high-quality product and experienced installers should be a priority. For this reason, Hychem has a strong and trusted network of trained applicators throughout Australia.
“Hychem approved applicators all have extensive experience in the flooring industry, and it is this experience that allows them to take on difficult jobs and complete them on time while dealing with any unexpected challenges as they arise,” Mr Bauer said.