Floor coverings for healthcare and educational facilities offer unique challenges to facility managers and school administrators, especially when it comes to choosing carpeting. These are demanding environments, and not all carpet types are up to the task. |
Along with being durable, the carpet selected must be relatively easy to clean and maintain, enhance safety, incorporate style and design elements that are attractive yet practical, and be protective of the indoor environment.
Further, carpet may not be the best option in certain areas of these facilities. For instance, in a hospital, the ambulatory area, trauma unit, birthing unit, children's ward, kitchens, and restrooms may be better served with vinyl flooring. Similarly, carpeting is not always the best choice in school foodservice areas, athletic areas, restrooms and locker rooms, or art and handicraft classrooms.
However, both types of facilities do provide ample opportunities for the use of carpet, and carpeting offers benefits that traditional hard flooring does not. For example, carpet in both schools and hospitals is often much more inviting, and it definitely can help quiet these facilities, a common concern. Additionally, carpet can help reduce slips, trips, and falls, and because it acts like a sponge, it is able to absorb airborne particulates and contaminants, which can help improve indoor air quality.
But to take advantage of these benefits, proper carpet selection is critical. Here are some suggestions that can make the selection process a bit easier and help facility managers and school administrators decide on the right carpet for their facilities.
Hospitals Several issues should be considered when selecting carpets for healthcare and hospital facilities. In most cases, a densely tufted, solution- dyed, nylon fiber carpet will provide excellent resilience, performance, and appearance retention. These carpets tend to be more resistant to stains and spills. And, they are less likely to fade, even in areas exposed to bleach-based cleaners and sanitizers.
Facility managers are encouraged to examine the structure of the carpet's backing. Conventional broadloom carpets, similar to those often found in homes and office environments, are porous. Spills can seep into and through the backing structure and, in some cases, become a reservoir for bacteria, germs, fungi, mold, and mildew. Structured-back carpets have an impermeable backing system, allowing spills and contaminants to be more easily removed by either carpet extraction or simple vacuuming.
Some structured-back carpet tiles are also treated with antimicrobial preservatives. These treatments help inhibit the growth of bacteria, odors, and fungi.
Additional benefits of structured-back carpeting in a healthcare environment include: • Enhanced aesthetics • Improved noise absorption • Less susceptibility to shrinking, stretching, and ripples • Less resistance to rolling traffic such as carts, beds, and medical equipment
Color is also a consideration, in both hospitals and educational facilities. A carpet that is too light in color will require considerable cleaning and maintenance to keep it looking its best. Because of this, most hospitals select darker colors, which are less likely to show stains, spills, and wear.
Schools Medical facilities and schools share many of the same concerns when it comes to carpet selection. These include, as discussed earlier, appearance, durability, and safety. However, in the always-budget-conscious educational environment, getting the best value—selecting the right material for maximum durability and the lowest long-term cost of ownership—is also a major concern.
In many schools, conventional carpeting, which is a broadloom, latex-backed carpet, will last about seven years. For carpeting to become cost-effective, when compared to hard-surface flooring, it should last 10, 15, or more years. This is why many educational facilities, just like hospitals and healthcare facilities, use structured-back carpets with durable nylon wear surfaces. These carpets can last 10 or even up to 25 years, depending on the quality of the carpet, foot traffic, and maintenance.
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