Hospital designers need to select hospital flooring that satisfies numerous criteria. Flooring should be cost-effective, permit top-notch hygiene, and be durable and safe. In addition to being easy to maintain, it should also be aesthetically pleasing. Choosing the best hospital flooring may also depend on the areas to be floored; for instance, the intensive care unit may need a special flooring that differs from those in general areas. To choose the best hospital flooring, look for those that can withstand high traffic and are resilient, comfortable, and slip resistant.
Vinyl floors have dominated hospitals because they are slip retardant and have very long lives. Many vinyl-based hospital flooring products have seamless surfaces that discourage the collection of dirt, water, and other substances. It resists stains, maintains its appearance over a long period of time, and can be found in various looks and styles. The use of vinyl flooring has reduced, though, because it releases toxic substances during the production process and has a high environmental cost.
Many designers prefer to use carpet because of the comfort it provides and its noise-reduction qualities. It is, however, extremely high maintenance and is less durable compared to other materials. Some prefer to use rubber as a flooring material because of its high durability, but it is quite expensive. Linoleum is another favorite amongst designers because it is inexpensive and has less of an environmental impact. It requires frequent waxing and cleaning, though, and isn't as durable long term.
When choosing hospital flooring, the thing to keep in mind is to choose one that will still be attractive after a decade or two. Stain resistance is an important quality to look for because the flooring should be unaffected by blood spills or spillage in general. Choosing a material that has low glare is also important, as is finding a material that produces less noise on impact. Good flooring can reduce the noise generated when people walk across it with high heels, or roll equipment, or drop items.
Ideally, the flooring should be slip resistant and made of nontoxic renewable materials — many designers have begun to explore using natural materials like bamboo and cork. Marmoleum®, made from raw natural materials like limestone, wood flour, jute, and linseed oil, is easy to maintain. Easily cleaned, it has antistatic and bacteriostatic properties and can be seamlessly welded to wall and floor joints. It is also durable enough to bear heavy equipment and withstand major pedestrian traffic.