Installation, product selection and a maintenance programme all play a crucial role in minimising expenditure and ensuring cost-efficiency.
Budget considerations according to a client’s brief is a critical element that drives numerous decision-making procedures before commencing with a floorcovering purchase and installation for a particular commercial application.
Installation practices, the flooring itself and maintenance plans are three crucial factors that have a significant impact on the overall lifecycle costs of a flooring project. Failing to adhere to these factors can significantly increase the likelihood of a flooring failure, not to mention the cost implications, be it short- or long-term.
Just as important as the flooring itself is the contractor hired to install it. Even though the installation of a floor type is considered as a small percentage of the overall lifecycle cost, with the cost of the flooring product plus the expense of maintaining it over a lengthy period of time making-up most of the overall cost of a flooring, it by no means decreases the prominent role that a flooring installation plays in terms of cost-efficiency.
Facilities Executives understandably spend quite a bit of time determining whether they have the best flooring product at the best price. However, they don’t often do the same for the installations, which can be fraught with problems, such as excessive moisture and poorly completed seams.
Although a commercial flooring project may appear to be a relatively straightforward undertaking, that’s usually not the case. It’s a major construction project that involves a lot of planning in order to prevent or avoid technical pitfalls. For example, if a contractor doesn’t properly heat-weld two pieces of flooring together, the seams can end-up cracking and coming apart. A competent contractor should be able to provide insight into the type of floorcovering that will work best in a specific setting.
Experienced flooring contractors agree that the most common problem in flooring projects is the presence of excessive moisture in the sub-floor, usually as a result of compressed construction schedules, which leaves little time for concrete sub-floors to dry properly. As the saying goes, “time is money”, but in this instance, time restraints may in fact increase costs, and as such, should not be compromised.
As an example, if a scheduled deadline has to be accelerated, the contractor will most likely have to make use of more crew on-site who may have to work overtime, both of which increase the need for co-ordination and supervision, and almost always results in higher costs.
Aiming to drastically minimise costs should be carefully looked at when selecting a contractor. It is critical that a qualified, experienced and competent flooring installer is hired to ensure that a floorcovering looks good and performs well. Firstly, start by looking for a contractor with a history of experience and satisfied clients. Also look for a qualified contractor who stays up-to-date on flooring technology and is able to point out techniques that will make a job proceed more smoothly and effectively.
Inexperienced or sloppy contractors can generate extra costs in several ways, such as:
• Ordering more flooring material than is necessary to make the project easier for them.
• Purchasing extra floorcoverings to simplify the matching of patterns at the seams.
• Not adequately testing the sub-floor for moisture.
• Failing to follow manufacturer’s installation directions, which can risk voiding a manufacturer’s warranty.
It is imperative that one finds a contractor with a good industry reputation who can be relied on and has proven themselves. This will minimise costs while at the same time expanding the lifespan of a floorcovering as a result of qualitative installation practices, primarily due to the specific contractor chosen.
Selecting a certain product for a certain commercial application is dependent on a variety of factors, one being the associated costs. After careful consideration of the environment and its requirements, whether it is to withstand heavy wear and tear, or to be conducive to areas exposed to high moisture levels, or even climatic conditions such as direct sunlight, the floor type will be chosen to serve a variety of specifications and needs.
Due to the influx of new flooring products as a result of innovative technologies, it has become even more important to be educated on what is available and for which applications a specific product is best suited. Knowledge here is key, as this will guide one’s choices, and in turn, direct one to various price options, posing the question: Does cost directly impact the quality of a product?
It is generally accepted that if a product is cheap, it is usually at the expense of quality, and even though this still applies in certain instances, it doesn’t necessarily imply that its performance will be poor. The quality of a product will affect its lifecycle costs, and should be viewed from a long-term perspective in order to measure cost implications effectively.
Often, the floors are the last thing to be installed, so when it comes to cutting budget, it usually comes down to cutting the budget of the floor, which is a very risky action to take. In any building, the floor usually endures the most exposure, which is why it cannot be skimped on.
Initially, at the onset, the floors may result in additional expenditure, however, should an inferior product be used, it would invariably have to be refurbished or replaced in the long-run. It will undoubtedly cost even more than the initial expenditure had a quality product been chosen, while repairs and replacements could disrupt the functioning of the facility.
If one had to represent this by looking at a graph, then costs will be demonstrated as initially being high from a price point of view should a premium product have been selected, but in the long-run, maintenance costs will remain constant, and as such, the graph will indicate a decline in costs. In turn, an inferior product will have lower initial costs, but because of the rapidly increasing maintenance costs to maintain its visual appeal and performance, the graph will represent an increase in lifecycle costing.
If a quality or premium product is installed that is both beautiful and effective, people may be motivated to take care of it. This is where maintenance plays a significant role when exploring the cost implications of floorcoverings.
Faced with stringent cleaning requirements, there is a constant need for cleaning methods that are both effective and save money. Furthermore, environmental aspects are playing an increasingly important role as well. Finding a cleaning solution that offers productivity, effectiveness and sustainability benefits is a challenge, however, there are a range of products and technologies that enable professionals to achieve these goals.
As cost plays a crucial role in product selection, a lot of focus is being placed on maintenance programmes in the form of cleaning that will enhance the lifespan of a floorcovering to maximise cost efficiency, while concurrently ensuring that it keeps its looks for several years to come – factors that cannot be ignored when looking to serve stringent budgets. However, selecting the correct cleaning machinery, maintaining this machinery correctly and using quality cleaning products also add significantly to cost savings while dramatically minimising maintenance expenses.
A number of elements play a role in achieving the expected cleanliness on hard-to-clean floors. For example, industrial floors involve dealing with dirt such as tough oils and fats. Such challenging cleaning applications require robust and heavy-duty cleaning equipment but even more essential is a systematic maintenance regime that will avoid large build-up of tough dirt. Cleaning regularly is better than having to do a deep scrub and restore in terms of time and labour savings.
• Productivity and budget
In addition to the above effective benefits, innovative technologies and product enhancements will create opportunities for reductions in cost of operations. Making use of high-quality materials and parts, manufacturers ensure a solid construction that extends the performance life of machines. Durability and reliability pay off in the long-run as they avoid damage to the equipment and subsequent repair costs. Choosing the correct cleaning machinery that is easy to operate reduces the risk of abuse or incorrect operation, and when combined with proper service and maintenance, uptime and the life of the machine is maximised, protecting investments in cleaning machinery and adding to cost-efficiency.
• Health & Safety
The implementation of an effective floor maintenance programme is a very important step in the prevention of various health and safety issues. Not only do slippery floors present hazards, but indoor air quality and noise can also affect the wellbeing of operators, staff and residents. Slip and fall accidents account for a large number of lost days of work, high medical costs and even higher insurance rates. Indoor air quality can be improved by ensuring that no dust particles become airborne by effectively sweeping and scrubbing the floor, which positively affects a worker’s health. In addition, ensuring that cleaning is done with the least possible disruption is essential in environments where cleaning is done when people are present, such as hospitals, retail environments etc.
Incorporating effective cleaning programmes that make use of the correct products and machinery plays a prominent role in saving costs, while concurrently enhancing the lifespan of a floorcovering.
All of the above ensure that budgets are adhered to, that an installation is cost-effective and that expenses are adequately controlled to achieve excellence both in terms of aesthetic appeal and performance to enhance a product’s lifespan and lengthen its lifecycle expenditure.
Acknowledgement and thanks are given to the following for the information contained in this article: www.europeancleaningjournal.com; www.facilitiesnet.com; Alex Pugh and James Mabaso from FloorworX; Lori Dowling, President and CEO of StarNet Commercial Flooring Cooperative and Bill Bohrer, President of Wall 2 Wall Floorcoverings, Ketchum, Idaho.