Decorative Commercial Flooring
Paul Rogers on making safety flooring look attractive
TYPICALLY safety flooring is viewed as a functional necessity and rightly so, but it can often be too conventional in its design approach.
Nowadays, clients are looking for something out of the ordinary, flooring products that not only meet the desired performance characteristics in order to prevent unnecessary slips and trips, but also complement the surroundings.
In terms of guidance for safety flooring, contractors should only specify products that meet Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and European Standard requirements.
HSE and UK Slip Resistance Group (UKSRG) recommend measurement of slip resistance using the pendulum test. The test can be used to assess slip resistance in both dry and contaminated conditions and measures the coefficient of friction of a floor surface to provide a slip potential classification.
A pendulum test value (PTV) of 36 or higher is classified as low slip risk. ‘Floors need to have enough grip for pedestrians to walk safely.’
Additionally, EN 13845 is the European Standard that ensures the sustainability of slip resistance of vinyl floor coverings.
It concerns PVC safety flooring with particle based enhanced slip resistance and specifies the requirements that must be met to ensure that the slip resistant properties of the floorcovering are maintained during the life of the product.
Ultimately, it is crucial that guidance is sought from a reputable flooring manufacturer on selection of the most suitable product for the application. Floors have different roles to play within a building, so an important part of the design stage is to fully understand how a floor will be used and what the associated requirements are.
In terms of the aesthetics, many manufacturers have been working hard to dispel the myth of the usual stereotypical institutional or clinical feel to safety flooring and are stepping away from the conventional safety flooring designs.
Instead, warmer and more welcoming finishes help to create interior designs that are contemporary and very much sought after, such as wood, stone and textured designs. Modern and bright colours are also moving into the market, allowing contractors to broaden the safety flooring appeal amongst a variety of sectors such as retail, commercial and public spaces.
Nevertheless, a step away from the more traditional ‘safety flooring’ colours and designs should not signify a compromise when it comes to safety performance. Traditional safety flooring products usually contain carborundum particles in the wearlayer, which are very dark in colour and can affect the overall colour and design of the flooring.
However, pioneering technical developments have resulted in new products that are manufactured with brighter and fresher designs, yet still offer the outstanding slip resistance properties suitable for the intended areas.
With current trends calling for less industrialised aesthetics and ones that can provide softer and more naturally inspired designs, keeping in contact with a reputable manufacturer is the best way of staying in touch with the latest developments and to ensure correct products are recommended for each application.
Paul Rogers is technical specification manager at Forbo Flooring Systems
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.