Is Rubber Flooring Right for Your Facility?

Do your campus’s floors look great when they’re first installed, only to stain quickly or wear out? The solution may be resilient rubber flooring, which offers high durability and excellent color - even under heavy traffic.

Durability Counts

Durability - which rubber flooring offers - is an important consideration when shopping for a new floor. "Look for a product that is resilient and durable," says George Ooman, senior property development officer for Harvard University Planning Group in Cambridge, Mass. "Fitness areas have a lot of concentrated heavy loads per square inch and need a durable surface."

That was the finding of The Fitness Center at the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point. "There were indentations, footprints and marks left from the fitness equipment on our floor," says Todd Hoffner, coordinator of the fitness center. "It wasn’t very appealing." The existing asphalt floor was replaced with 5,000 sq. ft. of rubber flooring and, according to Hoffner, "We haven’t had any problems with the floor; it is still perfect. We scrub it two or three times a year to keep it fresh, and that’s it."

Creativity Counts, Too

One university found that, with very little work, they could have a local source cut their school emblem out of the rubber floor and inlay it in the middle of their facility for a customized look. This floor will look great for years as rubber flooring ages gracefully. Its average life span is 10 to 15 years, with some installations reporting up to 30 years and more. A regular maintenance program, including sweeping and mopping, keeps the finish bright and the floor looking new for years.

The University of South Florida in Tampa has had the same rubber flooring in its social sciences building for 30 years. "In addition to the great masses of walkers, I have seen students skateboarding through the building’s hallways," says Dr. Curtis Wienker, professor and former building supervisor. As a result of the rubber floor’s durability in that building, the university has specified the same floor for the Sun Dome, dormitories, classrooms and recreation center.

Gotta Shop Around

When shopping for flooring, administrators should select a highly visible company. "We look at a number of factors before choosing flooring, including a company’s visibility," says Dr. Robert Patton, professor at the University of North Texas and president of Health Fitness Associates consulting firm. "We determine a company’s reputation and longevity, as well as cost, durability, selection of colors and availability to match the current decor. I suggest that college administrators talk with other administrators who use the flooring in their facilities."

Also look for a manufacturer that stocks the newest design-oriented colors and patterns. The newest trends in the flooring industry include vibrant colors of teal, blue, mauve, green and red, and specially mixed colors (like a college’s school colors).

Benefits and More Benefits

When purchasing flooring, consider the benefits of rubber flooring.

1. It feels good to walk on.

2. New colors and patterns mean you no longer have to sacrifice looks for durability.

3. It provides a safe, nonskid surface.

4. Excellent stain, chemical and burn resistance means easy maintenance and long life.

5. Superior sound-absorbing characteristics make it a great choice for classrooms and hallways.

6. In life-cycle costs, rubber flooring continues to be the lowest-cost alternative because of its longevity and easier, less-expensive maintenance.

Money-Saving Tips

When selecting rubber flooring, consider the following money-saving tips.

1. Ask the supplier for a quantity discount.

2. There may be a price break on colors that are prestocked, which are generally the most popular colors.

3. Ask the supplier for a list of area references, then ask the references: What is the floor’s performance history? Who installed it? What is the quality of the labor?

4. Choose a company with a good reputation, as you want to work with people who will resolve problems quickly and fairly.

5. Follow the written installation guideline. The vast majority of problems reported with rubber flooring are because of improper surface preparation - not the product.

6. Be environmentally conscious. Many of today’s rubber floors are made from 99 percent recycled materials. Insist on products that put rubber underfoot, not underground.

With all its benefits, rubber flooring may be just what you need for that next renovation or building project.

Jerry Pillard is sales manager for Tampa-based Tuflex Rubber Flooring.

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