With the clever use of flooring, a sense of place can be created and areas demarcated with ease – be it in companies, factories, offices or even airports which experience high traffic.
Durable, long-lasting materials are essential for high-traffic areas. Carpets have historically been used for commercial high traffic areas, but alternative options such as porcelain tiles and specialist flooring systems are the ideal solutions.
Carpeting and tiles can also be used in combination with each other, depending on the setting or feeling that needs to be created. Carpeting creates a warmer and more homely feel and is ideally suited for smaller areas, such as offices or hold rooms at airports. Terrazzo and specialist flooring requires a very long installation process, causing large areas to be blocked off – which can interfere with operations, so downtime must be kept in mind. A material that can be worked on overnight and not interfere with daytime operations, is ideal.
Acoustics are important in most high-traffic areas. Aa large tile with small grout joints is idea good choice. Carpets are also an option, as it absorbs noise and creates a comfortable space for people. High traffic areas tend to be loud and noisy, so working with a sound engineer is critical to ensuring the space works well acoustically.
Time for change
Often companies that experience high foot traffic will research the market for new products, materials and trending ideas for changing times, specifically focussing on durability, easy maintenance and being aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes the floor finish might fail due to the failure of the subfloor, which can cause lifting and cracking. Sometimes the stock of replacement product gets depleted and the same colourway or finish is no longer available, necessitating a makeover.
Easily maintainable flooring
High-traffic areas need easy-to-maintain modern flooring that would look great for decades. Terrazzo is a popular material, as it is a seamless solution without grout joints, which makes it easier to maintain than many other finishes. Seamless flooring also provides improved accessibility and reduces noise levels.
Before installing any floor, a moisture test must be conducted because if there are high moisture levels in the concrete slab, a moisture mitigation layer must be installed to prevent cracking and lifting of the new floor.
High-traffic areas often see a lot of footfall and sometimes machinery collision. Areas such as factory entranceways or production areas may need particular protection in order to provide them with enough support to ensure that damage does not occur from the continuous stress.
International airports: Two case studies
When Pensacola International (PNS) and Valley International (VIA) replaced the flooring in their respective facilities, the two airports selected different materials – but both chose colours and patterns that portray their local Gulf Coast water and landscapes. PNS, located in the panhandle of Florida, installed a combination of porcelain tile and carpet. Across the gulf, at the south-eastern tip of Texas, VIA replaced its old pink and grey ceramic tiles with new blue and white terrazzo.
According to PNS director, Dan Flynn, the project was all about customer experience. “We wanted something very appealing and aesthetically pleasing. The lighter tiles make the terminal look so much brighter, and overall, the tiles and carpet create a comfortable and attractive atmosphere.”
They chose to reflect the city of Pensacola’s brand, “Welcome to the Beach”, thus choosing a marine life design with birds that literally fly over the beach. A palette of light greys and beige was chosen to suggest sandy beaches. Gentle waves etched in the tile encourage movement along the concourse. The carpeting has blue and green hues to complement the city’s branding.
Reflecting the environment
The team selecting new terrazzo for VIA also took design cues from the natural environment and their region, especially the beach, Laguna Madre, the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Grande River. The design can be interpreted in a few ways: As sandbars with water on either side, as a meandering river or as the beach in the Gulf of Mexico. The design was also meant to help guide passengers through the airport, from ticketing to the main lobby and baggage claim.
As in airports, many high traffic areas need downtime to be kept to a minimum. Talking through maintenance, replacement, as well as traffic flows with the client, will ensure a floor that lasts for years and continues to be beautiful, practical, safe and cost effective.