Flooring getting firm footing

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When Loveland Good Samaritan Retirement Village decided to replace its worn, outdated vinyl composite tile flooring in the dining room and corridors, the Loveland, CO-based provider knew that examining all the options and selecting the best products would not be an especially simple – or speedy – process.

The facility's environmental services director, who had previous experience in facility renovation and flooring redesign, tackled the task with gusto. He pored over a wide range of flooring products and designs, solicited input from other employees and researched studies that addressed the pros and cons of various floor coverings.

"I did my homework because I knew the decision was an important one," said John Scott. "The surface needed to be non-skid, non-slip and non-glare, and also durable and easy to maintain."
Not to mention aesthetically pleasing. Scott said the facility wanted a product that would create a "homier feel" and would better reflect the facility's mountain lodge theme. After a nearly six-month process, the efforts paid off with a wood sheet vinyl flooring product that married the warmth, durability and resilience of hardwood with the cleanability of vinyl.

Others have learned the hard way that not all flooring products are created equal, and that products that work well in one area may not be suitable for others. Especially in the long-term care arena.
When one Arizona-based facility installed commercial grade carpeting without a laminated backing, for example, it wasn't long before the staff realized it had made a bad investment.
"It became matted down and was difficult to maintain. We replaced it after just two years," said the facility's administrator. "We learned how important it is to carefully choose products that can [withstand] the challenges of long-term care."

Innovation gaining ground

In a market filled with flooring options, providers often face some difficult purchasing decisions. While some manufacturers claim the trend is to replace carpeting with resilient flooring, and others contend that the use of carpeting is gaining ground, one thing remains certain: given today's versatile, high-style and high-performance products, there's clearly room for both.

"Many facilities find that mixing different products is a great option. Carpeting is still commonly used in some areas, such as activity rooms, because it is creates a more home-like feel, [whereas] harder, easier to clean surfaces are often a good choice in corridors and dining areas," explained Ridley Kinsey, general manager of healthcare markets, Tandus Group Inc., Dalton, GA. 

Those in the market for new carpeting will be pleased to learn that the problems historically inherent to the material are becoming things of the past. Carpet is now more resistant to skidding, fluid (even bleach) and blemishes, thanks to improved yarn fibers, moisture barriers and special backings.

"Today's carpets are becoming increasingly resistant to fluids and stains that would be nearly impossible to remove from conventional carpets," said Clarence Porch, senior marketing manager for Milliken Carpet, Part City, UT. These high performance carpets are also a good value, he said, noting that the price of high-end carpet can run approximately $30 per square yard installed and last 10 to 12 years.
Some manufacturers are taking technology a step further by offering "hybrid carpets," which bond the soft carpet surface to a layer of sheet vinyl.

"In the past, carpets typically failed because the backing separated, which caused rippling. Hybrids can't delaminate because the fiber is actually part of the backing," explained Mark Taylor of Shaw Industries Inc., Dalton, GA.

Because hybrids are more fluid-resistant, they have become a popular choice in dining areas and even some resident rooms.

"They give facilities the aesthetic appeal, comfort and noise reduction of carpeting, and the durability and fluid resistance of a hard surface," Shaw continued, adding that hybrids cost approximately $2.50 per square foot (installed) and can last 20 years or more.

Tiles and laminates are also getting a facelift. Kinsey said customers are responding to peel-and-stick backings that make it easier to replace individual tiles. Pr

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