Choosing the right floor covering

With an increased focus on infection control and healthy living environments the Care Sector is faced with a number of opinions and options when it comes to choosing the right floor covering, as Danfloor reports.

The use of carpets is sometimes discarded on the basis of cleaning and maintenance and replaced by hard flooring and vinyl which is perceived to be better from the perspective of infection control.. However this isn’t always the case as there are multiple benefits of using carpet within a care setting and if a quality carpet, which is manufactured with the care sector in mind, is specified then carpet can often have many more functional and practical benefits than hard flooring solutions.

Common misconceptions with carpets is that they are not efficient in assisting with infection control, that they retain dirt and are difficult and expensive to clean. All of which shouldn’t be an issue with a quality, healthcare specific, carpet that is installed with an effective cleaning and maintenance schedule.

Antimicrobial treatments which can be applied to carpets should be considered when selecting carpets for healthcare environments. The advanced technolog y deactivates harmful micro-organisms when they come into contact with the carpet fibres. The treatment inhibits the growth of mould, fungus and bacteria, including the likes of MRSA, which can contribute to unpleasant carpet odours and the spread of infection. It is a revolutionary technology that guarantees optimum freshness and hygiene for floor coverings, even after intensive use and frequent commercial cleaning.

Floor finishes should also help to improve your indoor environment, which is particularly important where recovery
is of paramount importance. Research suggests that recovery times can improve when an individual is cared for in an attractive and therapeutic environment.

The installation of carpets can improve the health and well- being of individuals who live and work in these environments by helping to create a healing environment. One way in which they do this is by improving the acoustics of a room. Corridors within care homes and hospitals can be noisy places during the day and night but by installing carpet, as opposed to a hard flooring solution, much of the sound within a room is absorbed thereby reducing sound reverberation. Carpets also help to improve the acoustics of a room by reducing impact noise. This relates to the control of sound from one space to another and helps to create a calm and peaceful environment.

Compared with a hard flooring finish carpet adds a warm and welcoming feel to any room and provides a soft cushioned layer for extra underfoot comfort. Studies suggest that carpets, when compared with vinyl, can reduce injuries caused by slips, trips and falls. It’s also been proven that gait speed and step length is greater in older people walking on carpeted areas than on vinyl. Carpets also have an added advantage of improving energy consumption due to a lower level of heat conduction. It is estimated that up to 30 days of heating can be saved by installing carpets, resulting in a 4-6 per cent energy saving and a consequent reduction in energ y costs.

Carpets can also help to improve indoor air quality and in turn contribute to a healthier living environment. The trapping of dust particles within the carpet fibre, until the carpet is vacuumed, reduces the amount of airborne particles and allergens that can re-circulate and cause discomfort for allergy sufferers. With hard flooring solutions these dust particles tend to become airborne more often with the circulation of air within a room or corridor.

The total life cycle costs of installing and maintaining carpets has been proven to be more economical than those of hard flooring solutions. Various studies and reports state that the total life cycle costs of hard flooring solutions can be up to two times higher than those of carpet (depending upon application and intensity of use).

Research also suggests that on an annual basis cleaning times for hard surface floors is 2 1⁄2 times longer than what is required for carpets and that cleaning supplies for vinyl floors are up to 7 times more expensive than those required for clean- ing carpets. Therefore maintenance time and cost saving bene- fits can also be achieved with the installation of carpets as opposed to hard floors.