International flooring industry’s Denver Coleman discusses the total cost of ownership for the life of a floor.

With more than 50 years’ experience in the local and international flooring industry, Denver Coleman, Chairman of Polyflor SA, answers questions posed by installers, architects and readers. In this issue, he discusses the total cost of ownership for the life of a floor.

Are more expensive floor coverings really more superior than their cheaper alternatives, or will more expensive floors also cost me more to maintain? How can I be sure that I get what I pay for and that I am making the best decision in the long term? – Bradley van Rooyen, Midrand

When you need to have surgery done or a crown replaced, would you run the risk of going to the cheapest doctor or dentist? Similarly, when choosing a car, would you not want to buy the best you can afford, knowing that it is more comfortable, will perform better on the road, keep your family safe and be cost effective to maintain?

There is a well-known Afrikaans saying that has proven to be true time and again, namely “goedkoop is duur koop”. Good quality products with a proven track record will generally give you superior functionality and better value for money.

Whilst many project managers are tempted to look for short cuts like installing cheap and inferior quality flooring products in order to cut their CAPEX cost and meet their budget, the long term results and need for more frequent replacements will mostly negate any cost saving per square metre that he or she was able to make in the short term.

It is generally accepted that the CAPEX cost (i.e. a company’s capital expenditure to upgrade fixed, physical, non-consumable assets, such as buildings and equipment or start a new business) of the initial installation of flooring ranges between 20% and 30% of the lifetime cost. Maintenance applies to whatever type of floor you install, regardless of specification.  When considering the costs associated with ongoing maintenance of floorcoverings, it quickly becomes clear that the daily and weekly cleaning regimes are responsible for the biggest expenses in any building.

No product will clean itself, and the foot traffic is most often the largest contributor of grit, dust and water carried into a building. Research has shown that a person carries on average 0.58 grams of dirt per day into a building. This translates to approximately .21 kilograms per year, which will cost R3 612.00 to remove. If you have 100 people working and entering your premises on a daily basis, your cleaning and maintenance regime alone will cost you in the region of R361 000 per annum!

Few people are aware that “dry cleaning” methods used for day-to-day cleaning are more efficient and quicker than wet cleaning. Bacteria thrive on warmth, moisture, dust and grit. Unless done correctly, wet cleaning methods provide the ideal environment for bacteria to spread. To prevent this, make sure that cleaning equipment is spotlessly clean at the start of each session, and use designated microfibre/muslin cloths for specific areas, such as wards, ICU etc.

Entrance matting stops up to 80% of dirt and grit from entering a building. It is therefore important to ensure that all entrances and exits (including staff, maintenance, delivery, workshop etc.) are covered with entrance matting.

In a nutshell, consider the long term maintenance and product attributes when choosing your flooring to give you a view of total cost of ownership over the lifecycle of the flooring, rather than just the initial upfront capital expenditure. I would strongly recommend considering a good quality vinyl floor that is PUR coated. A homogeneous PUR (polyurethane reinforcement cross linked and UV cured) vinyl facilitates a lifelong polish-free maintenance regime, leading to overall maintenance cost savings of 48% over a 20-plus year life when compared with untreated vinyl flooring. In addition, this product offers optimum appearance and protection against infection, and fewer cleaning chemicals and greatly reduced power requirements means reduced environmental impact.

For more information contact Polyflor SA on +27 (11) 609 3500 or via