Image courtesy of LX Hausys America Inc.

Safety, comfort, acoustics, mobility, aesthetics and sustainability are key advantages of the latest flooring products for hospitals. This is good news for facilities managers because health care flooring needs to withstand rigorous disinfection protocols as well as static and dynamic loading from heavy patient beds.

Hospitals are looking for durable solutions they can rely on to withstand wear and tear due to foot traffic and the movement of equipment. Floors with sustainable properties are gaining importance as well. Because excessive noise is detrimental to patient rest and recovery, health facilities managers are seeking floors that have sound-absorption properties.

Widely chosen

Resilient sheet flooring as well as luxury vinyl tile (LVT) are widely chosen because of their ability to meet a wide range of health care requirements, according to Fred J. Reitz III, vice president of commercial at AHF Products, Mountville, Pa. AHF Products’ flooring brands include Armstrong Flooring, Parterre and Bruce. “In addition, new technology has brought more colors and patterns, better wear and installation characteristics, and improved chemical- and stain-resistance.”

Hospitals are focused on maximizing positive outcomes through evidence-based design, says Paula Meason, health care segment expert at Interface Inc., Atlanta. “Facilities managers look to flooring to help create restorative environments that support patients and caregivers while meeting space-specific needs. This means that superior performance, ease of maintenance, safety, design flexibility and sustainability continue to be critical factors in flooring selection.” 

When specifying flooring for hospitals, designers must consider the variety of spaces that define a health care environment and how each plays a different role in the patient and caregiver experience. “In procedure and operating rooms (ORs), for example, durable, easy-to-clean and easy-to-install flooring is critical,” says Keith Richardson, director of performance markets for health care and senior living at Patcraft, Cartersville, Ga. “In addition, mobility and adaptability are critical in these fast-paced environments.” 

In the area of colors and design, warm gray, taupe, brown and beige flooring are being specified more often and cool neutrals less so, according to Tom Hume, vice president of segmented sales for health care at Mohawk Group, Dalton, Ga. “Some health systems and health care designers are moving toward an upscale retail look for their outpatient facilities, which has allowed for more nontraditional styles to be specified in these spaces.” 

Flooring requirements differ slightly for small, off-site health care facilities. Because these spaces are often leased and have fewer technically trained cleaning services, price and ease-of-cleaning have a large influence on the selection of flooring products. “Off-site facilities also prioritize aesthetics to positively contribute to patient and staff experience, so we see more LVT, vinyl sheet and carpet tile specified for these spaces,” Meason says.

Affordable aesthetics are important at off-site buildings, many of which are leased, according to Casey Johnson, director of health care business development for North America at Forbo Flooring Systems, Hazleton, Pa. “As a result, we see increased use of modular products such as our PVC-free Impressa planks and Flotex carpet tile, which provide a more spa-like experience.” 

Range of products

A wide range of flooring products has been introduced to the health care market. For example, AHF Products has introduced the Ascendant LVT collection under the Parterre brand, which features 3-mm wood grain designs in each pre-cut pattern for floor installations. Nine designs are available in herringbone and chevron cuts for a total of 18 options. The wood grain flooring designs use a glue-down installation method. “Each individual plank is secured to the subfloor, making it a durable and secure LVT flooring option,” Reitz says.

AHF Products also has unveiled contract “Mixed and Variegated” homogeneous sheet flooring. “This vinyl sheet collection offers a selection of popular colors combined with our innovative coating technology, resulting in a floor that is beautiful and built to last,” Reitz says. In addition, the company offers Armstrong Flooring-branded Unify, a quick-ship LVT program. A simplified 2.5-mm LVT assortment, the Unify Collection, features warm wood and textile visuals, influenced by Scandinavian design.

Patcraft has expanded its homogeneous sheet collection, Holistic, by introducing two new styles — Holistic Shades and Holistic Thrive — to create a collection of three coordinating products that are available in a broad range of colors. The collection is designed for even wear while maintaining a consistent appearance throughout. “It incorporates an ExoGuard finish, which has gouge- and abrasion-resistance and resists soil, stains and scratches, as well as chemicals and damage from alcohol-based hand sanitizers,” Richardson says. “The collection is available in 72 colors, providing a versatile palette for wayfinding and definition of space.”

Mohawk Group has introduced Creative Terrain, a high-performance homogeneous tile system. “The product has an extremely dense surface, delivering damage- and stain-resistance, and allowing for a long aesthetic life in the most demanding health care environments,” Hume says. The company also has unveiled the Medella Hues, Medella Fleck and Medella Well homogenous sheet product lines as an extension of its Healthy Environments resilient sheet collection, which features a scratch-resistant coating. 

Mannington Commercial, Calhoun, Ga., has developed BioSpec Armor resilient sheet flooring to address the needs of ORs in hospitals. “BioSpec Armor is engineered on a molecular level to deliver a 25% increase in product thickness, a 28.5% increase in durability and a 50% increase in PSI rating,” says Steve Hadrych, senior director of health care. “It can be used in conjunction with our IdealBase Sanitary Base to create a monolithic floor suitable for all areas of infection control.” 

Hospitals have been frustrated with flooring performance in ORs for many years, Hadrych says. “As the largest revenue-generating source in a hospital, any OR shutdown due to a flooring failure has a major financial impact. The most common type of flooring used in these spaces is homogeneous sheet, which was first developed in the 1980s.” 

Ecore, Lancaster, Pa., has introduced Heritage Motivate performance vinyl tile (PVT), which is safer, quieter and more ergonomic than traditional LVT products, according to Bo Barber, chief growth and innovations officer. Featuring a fiberglass-reinforced 2-mm vinyl surface layer bonded to a 5-mm vulcanized composition rubber base layer, the 21-mil wear layer provides commercial grade durability paired with the in-demand look of realistic wood. 

“The true-to-life visuals of the surface layer offer natural wood variation among the planks for an authentic wood-grain look,” Barber says. “Also, Heritage is designed with a force reduction of 10.6% and an energy restitution of 66.7%. It is easy to install, clean and maintain.” The PVT is best suited for common areas of hospitals where families wait to visit patients or where patients walk to and from their rooms.

LX Hausys America Inc., Atlanta, has introduced the Natural Selection Plus heterogeneous sheet collection. “Designed and inspired by the restorative health benefits found in nature, the collection is a versatile flooring solution that meets the design, durability, hygienic and maintenance needs of hospitals,” says Brian Rhee, HFLOR product manager at LX Hausys. Its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial characteristics prevent bacteria and mold from penetrating the surface, thereby mitigating the spread of infections. Also, a surface treatment technology — tested to protect against micro-scratches and stains — maintains the look of the colors and patterns over time.

All iQ vinyl flooring products from Tarkett North America, Solon, Ohio, are certified “asthma & allergy friendly” by Allergy Standards Ltd. and proven to reduce exposure to allergy and asthma triggers. “iQ is fully restorable with a simple dry-buffing,” says Sandra Soraci, health care segment director for Tarkett Contract. “The homogeneous through-body structure and surface ensure resistance to stains or scratches from heavy traffic and rolling loads. iQ also supports the need for acuity-adaptable surfaces and flexibility in hospitals.”

FreeStyle BioLock homogeneous flooring from SelecTech Inc., Avon, Mass., incorporates interlocking features and safeguards against static electricity. “Some hospitals are at risk from discharges of static electricity, which could damage sensitive electronic equipment,” says Thomas Ricciardelli, president. “For those facilities, we offer FreeStyle ESD (electrostatic discharge) flooring, available in sheets and interlocking tiles. It enables hospitals to install flooring quickly and without disruption, yet still provides a liquid-tight system.” SelecTech Inc. is working with EOS/ESD Association Inc., Rome, N.Y., to develop static control guidelines for hospitals.

Purline flooring from Matter Surfaces, Stoughton, Mass., is not LVT but a new type of flooring formulated from renewable, organic ingredients, according to Rachel Pettit, vice president of brand development. The collections have a wide range of design finishes in rolled goods, planks and tile formats, offering dozens of colors and patterns including realistic wood, stone and concrete look finishes. Purline carries numerous international sustainability standards such as Cradle to Cradle Silver and Declare Red List approved. 

Stonhard, Maple Shade, N.J., has introduced a decorative option to its Stonres product family: Stonres RTZ-2. The resilient, urethane flooring system is designed for ORs and other hospital spaces, offering translucent chips as additional design options. Also, the company has unveiled decorative broadcast flooring systems. “Formulated for superior performance and cleanability in lobbies, corridors and patient rooms, Stonblend FE, Stontec FE and Stonshield FE provide attractive designs and are available for fast-track installations,” says Christopher Trageser, commercial product manager.

Interface Inc.’s latest health care-specific flooring products were launched as part of its nora rubber portfolio: norament pado and noraplan convia, according to Meason. “Both collections are made for high-function interiors such as hospitals. The rubber flooring features ease of maintenance, impact sound reduction, slip resistance, long lifespan and comfort underfoot while improving indoor air quality. The products’ resilience and durability, coupled with their ability to be fully disinfected, makes them suitable for health care facilities,” Meason says.

American Biltrite Flooring, Sherbrooke, Quebec, has introduced ABPure Infinity, carbon-neutral rubber sheet flooring manufactured with renewable natural gas. “Carbon-neutral materials reduce the carbon in buildings,” says Catherine del Vecchio, vice president of marketing. “Also, this durable flooring is easy to maintain and disinfect without the use of harsh chemicals.” The company also offers Sonata Elements, a 20-mil LVT that mimics the striated textile look of carpet tiles, which is most often requested by smaller health care facilities.

All Marmoleum natural linoleum products available from Forbo Flooring Systems now feature a new Topshield Pro factory finish, making Marmoleum more durable and wear-resistant and ensuring a beautiful, long-lasting appearance, according to Johnson. “Topshield Pro also provides stain resistance and is easy to clean and maintain for improved hygiene.”

Bona, Englewood, Colo., has introduced the Bona commercial system concrete floor solution for renovating indoor, ventilated concrete floors. The system uses a clear coat protective finish that creates a flat, monolithic surface that is free of cracks or crevices, enabling germs and dirt to be more easily removed. “The floor never needs polishing, so there is no need for harsh chemicals typically used in the polishing process, thus improving indoor air quality,” says Todd Weyhmiller, director of product management/professional and new initiatives.

Looking ahead

What advances do manufacturers see ahead for hospital flooring products? For one, sustainability is now a requirement for flooring projects, which will lead to a push for advances in raw material sourcing production methods and green circularity of products. 

Manufacturers also expect to see development of more non-PVC flooring products that are durable and have properties aimed at keeping maintenance costs low.

“At Patcraft, we are always thinking about materials because they are at the heart of our flooring innovation,” Richardson says. “Through green chemistry and cradle-to-cradle design principles, we strive to provide solutions that combine transparent materiality with durable product performance.”

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The Natural Selection Plus heterogeneous sheet collection features anti-fungal and anti-bacterial technology. LX Hausys America Inc.

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noraplan convia is one of the latest nora rubber launches, offering a simple, smart flooring solution for a variety of applications. Interface Inc.

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Stonres RTZ-2 is a decorative flooring system that offers sound absorption, stain resistance, slip resistance and sanitary design. Stonhard

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iQ Granit SD dissipates static and has the strength to support heavy medical equipment, even at the seams. Tarkett North America

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Marmoleum Striato with Topshield Pro provides improved durability and cleanability in health care facilities. Forbo Flooring Systems

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Purline flooring is durable, easy to clean and will not stain with disinfecting agents such as iodine and bleach. Matter Surfaces

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Holistic homogeneous sheet features a monolithic surface with a continuous construction designed for areas where infection control is a concern. Patcraft

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BioSpec Armor resilient sheet is designed to address operating room demands, such as heavy rolling loads and surgical instrument strikes. Mannington Commercial

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FreeStyle BioLock homogeneous flooring incorporates interlocking features and safeguards against static electricity. SelecTech Inc.

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Medella Well is a PVC-free homogeneous resilient sheet flooring product that provides a terrazzo visual in a palette of bright colors and neutrals. Mohawk Group

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Heritage Motivate performance vinyl tile provides commercial-grade durability paired with the look of realistic wood. Ecore

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The Bona commercial system concrete floor solution is GreenGuard-certified and designed to revitalize indoor concrete floors. Bona

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ABPure Infinity is a carbon-neutral rubber sheet flooring manufactured with renewable natural gas from organic waste. American Biltrite Flooring

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The contract “Mixed and Variegated” homogeneous sheet flooring vinyl collection offers a selection of popular colors. AHF Products

Neal Lorenzi is a Mundelein, Ill.-based contributor to Health Facilities Management.