Main Image Credits: Floors International South Africa

Flooring in healthcare facilities are specialist products and require professional installation to achieve the results that are needed. This guide on specifying and installing quality healthcare floors covers some familiar topics, and some new ones that have arisen post-pandemic. 

Selecting a flooring system 

Vinyl flooring is the usual choice for healthcare facilities. With many options available and constrained budgets, it is advisable to involve all stakeholders from the beginning for a successful installation of the right fit-for-use product. 

Some key factors to help you get it right: 

  • A checklist ensures that all stakeholders on the project are on the same page – this includes the specifier, contractor and installer. 
  • Call on the technical knowledge of the advisors from both the flooring and underlayment manufacturers to find a fit-for-purpose solution at the right price. 
  • Selecting a well trained and experienced installer who guarantees on site supervision, reduces the risk of floor failures and costly repairs. 

Top tip: When considering new products, do a trial of the installation to ensure that they perform as required. A mock-up is also recommended which must be approved by all stakeholders and the standard used as the benchmark for the rest of the installation. 

Timing is everything 

Flooring installers are one of the last trades to work on the project, often giving rise to significant pressure to fast-track installation. However, the time requirements of a flooring installation are not always negotiable. 

A substrate which has not cured sufficiently may provide incorrect moisture readings, leading to additional costs related to moisture management that could have been avoided, or to repair failed flooring installations.  

Top tip: Allowing time for surface preparation and for the products within the flooring system to cure, avoids failures and the downstream expense of repairs. 

Installation matters 

A good installation is the first step, as a poor installation is hard to correct. Gapping between sheets and unsealed corners allow for the ingress of water during cleaning, which can cause the flooring to lift or damage the substrate. 

Top tip: Allow sufficient time between installation, trafficking of the floor and cleaning before handover to the client. 

Clean, not shiny 

Modern vinyl sheeting does not need polishing or wax, as this may damage the floor covering. In renovation projects, understanding the pain points of cleaning the existing flooring for the maintenance department or third-party cleaning company allows greater insight into the needs of the client.  

Top tip: When all affected parties are included in the discussions prior to specification or installation of the flooring, different choices might be made to better accommodate these needs.  

Long-term maintenance 

It is important to provide the correct cleaning and maintenance information to either the maintenance team or third-party cleaning contractors of the healthcare facility. This ensures that the facility’s warranty on the flooring is protected, as well as the aesthetics. 

Product manufacturers can provide information on compatible cleaners and training on how to maintain a floor after installation. Many manufacturers currently offer this service to ensure the longevity of their product and the installation. This is preferable to calling installers back for a failure that is caused by the incorrect cleaning of the flooring system.  

Top tip: Speak to the manufacturers, they are a valuable resource beyond supply and fit.  

Infection control 

Covid-19 raised awareness of performance in terms of cleanliness and infection control, which is affected by: 

  • Poor installation, allowing for the growth of bacteria. 
  • Damage from over-cleaning. 
  • Not cleaning the flooring or not cleaning properly. 
  • What chemicals are allowed in the facility? Neutral detergents are recommended. 

Issue: Specifying and installing floors in healthcare facilities. 
Solution: Collaboration with designers, installers and manufacturers at the beginning of the project delivers the best results. Pre-construction meetings, checklists and ongoing communication smooths the way for success. 

Sustainability 

Building with sustainability in mind, reducing the carbon footprint of the project and achieving net-zero emission targets are increasingly important. Specifiers and designers should request information from the manufacturers on: 

  • Green credentials of the product, if any. 
  • Sustainable manufacturing procedures. 
  • If and how the packaging of the product is recycled. 
  • End-of-life recycling of the product. 
  • Lifecycle CO₂ emissions of the product. 

Top tip: Ask the hospital what their specific sustainability needs are. 

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to https://www.floortrendsmag.com/, www.fisa.co.za and www.polyflor.co.za for the information in this editorial. 

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