Interior finishes play a vital role in the healthcare environment and contribute substantially to the delivery of healthcare services and the protection of staff and patients, and flooring is a critical component.
Flooring is probably the most important dimension of a health facility, contributing to public and patient perceptions. Floor finishes cannot be considered independently of their applicable subfloor, installation, adhesives or underlays and the relevant cleaning protocols, and need to be evaluated in terms of the various criteria and flooring categories in total.
The 4 main categories of floor finishes are:
1. Hard finishes
This includes rigid finishes such as porcelain, ceramic and marble tiles or seamless coatings such as cementitious or epoxy coatings.
2. Resilient finishes
Flexible and semi-flexible sheeting such as vinyl, linoleum, rubber and cork fall into this category.
3. Soft finishes
This includes textiles such as carpets as well as walk-off mats and anti-fatigue mats.
4. Hybrid finishes
This is a relatively new generation floor finish commonly called LVTs/LVPs that combine various materials and is topped off with a wear layer.
Selecting the right flooring for a specific environment
• Each flooring type has different applications and resultant benefits and disadvantages. The various characteristics need to be weighed up against the functions of the different areas within a healthcare facility.
• Environmental aspects in the choice of finishes also need to be considered. These include the embodied energy of materials, life cycle costing and toxicity which effects the quality of the indoor environment.
• Selecting the correct finish is a complex process with many aspects to take into account. However, in healthcare facilities, the prevention of infection must be prioritised and impacts the choice of materials in two ways. Firstly, whether the surface likely to become a reservoir for infectious agents and secondly, the ability to clean the floor.
Resilient and vinyl for internal flooring
Resilient finishes are generally flexible floor coverings that provide a continuous impervious finish well suited to the needs of the healthcare environment. It is critically important that the subfloor is of adequate strength, perfectly level and has controlled moisture content as any failure in the substrate will affect the performance of the floor finish. Any imperfections will be emphasised, creating scuffing and uneven wear.
All sheeting must be fully bonded to the substrate as per the manufacturer’s specifications and all joints heat welded for a seamless finish.
Benefits and key considerations when using vinyl
Vinyl sheeting is commonly used as a floor finish in health facilities because it provides a durable, resilient and impervious finish. FloorworX has various ranges to choose from, namely homogeneous, directional or non-directional patterns and uncoated or coated surface finishes.
• Vinyl sheeting has been found to inhibit the growth of bacteria, and particularly MRSA. The welded joints prevent dust or dirt congregating in areas that are difficult to clean, and the integral skirting supports this seamless appeal. Some heterogeneous products also have silver-ions in the finishing layer to create an antibacterial surface.
• Vinyl sheeting is relatively soft underfoot and has superior sound absorption qualities.
• Vinyl sheeting can be installed with a variety of skirting solutions. The use of the flooring material as an integrally welded skirting, forming a coved joint between the wall and the floor, is the best solution in terms of infection control as the joints are welded and the ‘corner’ is smooth, rounded and easy to clean. The cove former which supports the turn-up of the sheeting, can be sealed at each end to ensure there is no access to this gap.
Ensuring the perfect finish
Extruded PVC-skirting is usually set to abut the floor-sheet, with a small ‘foot’ taking the curve into the wall. The set-in skirting is then welded against the floor-sheet. Capping strips can be used with all these types of finishes to create a neat line on the top edge. A complete range of colour co-ordinated Extruda vinyl accessories is available from FloorworX to ensure a perfect finish.
Contact your nearest FloorworX Account Representative or the FloorworX Technical Department directly via Tel: 011 406-4024 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to assist your design team in selecting fit-for-purpose healthcare facility materials and finishes.
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