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What is the Best Flooring for Offices?

April 1, 2021

Successful businesses are prosperous because they have spaces that have been properly kitted out, allowing for all members of staff to perform to the best of their ability. Offices that have not been shown the proper care and attention not only impede on productivity, but also the health and safety of all those in the area.

Without investing in the best flooring for office spaces, workspaces can look dark and dreary – certainly not representing that brand in its best light. Employees should feel proud of their workspace, taking pride in maintaining high standards. If the company is flippant about the flooring to the point it shows clear signs of its age, damage such as indentation and lifting areas, this can either consciously or unconsciously lower standards elsewhere.

Businesses should consider what their commercial spaces are most used for and whether it is likely that anyone from outside the company, including visitors such as potential customers and associates, will be present. If anyone from outside of the company was to see the office in such a state, it will do nothing to enhance your reputation.

Differing Office Spaces

It is important to differentiate between office settings as this can have an influence on what is possible and or suitable to install in these areas.

Offices come in all shapes and sizes, from the large co-working spaces which are becoming more and more popular, to home offices which we have become all too familiar with throughout the last year or so. Modern offices will tend to go with carpet tiles and/or Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT), as well as wood in some areas, whereas more traditional building types will tend to go with a commercially-rated broadloom carpet as it is more in keeping with the setting.

Subfloor

As well as the age and style of the building, it is almost just as important to consider the subfloor onto which you are installing.

Your subfloor will have a greater influence than you might think when choosing your flooring. Let’s look at some of the different types of subfloor that are most common in office areas:

  1. Raised access - metal panels, which allow for easy access beneath the subfloor
  2. Concrete - more commonly found in basement offices
  3. Wooden floorboards - found mostly in older buildings where spaces have been converted into offices.

What flooring can I Install and Where?

So, we know what types of subfloor are most common in an office setting, now we need to know what flooring options are suitable for these different subfloors.

1. Raised access panel subfloor:

This is becoming the subfloor of choice in all new office buildings. With the more traditional office layout changing over time to a more dynamic space, the modular design of it allows for easy access to cabling below.

When considering what might be the best flooring for your office space to install on top of raised access flooring, it is important to remember that at some point you are going to need to get beneath it, or alterations to the floor layout may be required. In these instances, a non-permanent stick flooring option should be considered.

The go-to option for most offices with raised access panels is a commercially-rated carpet tile. This is because the installation process for installing carpet tiles only requires a tackifier adhesive to be applied to the raised access panelling, giving it an easy release system in case access is required at a later time.

In the event of access points in the floor needing to be moved or created, carpet tiles offer the flexibility to be able to do so with minimal disruption. It is always best to hold extras from your installation in case the above happens as this means you will have carpet tiles with the same batch ID. This means that they will blend in with your existing office flooring.

This is not to say you cannot install commercially-rated broadloom carpet. However, if any access to the subfloor was required, or if floor boxes need to be moved in the future, the following issues should be taken into consideration:

  • To gain access to the raised access panels would require substantially more effort and cause significantly more disruption to the office. As most carpets come in 4m and 5m widths, the uplift would have to start at the edge of a room – this could mean shutting down half of the office, therefore having an unwanted commercial impact.
  • If you wanted to move a floor box, the above will apply, however, the space where the old floor box has been removed would not be able to be filled, meaning a new piece of carpet would need to be installed which would incur further costs. It is likely you would not be able to get hold of the same batch, meaning you would be left with two pieces of carpet that do not match.

Another option that should also be considered is the use of a loose lay LVT. These come in slightly thicker than standard at 5-7mm, as opposed to regular LVT which comes in around 2-3mm.

We pride ourselves on our installations and following our manufacturers recommended methods of fitting. It is important to note the following before installing LVT to a raised access floor:

  • Panels must be firm, level, dry and clean
  • Lipping panels must not exceed 0.762mm
  • The height difference between panels must not exceed 0.762mm
  • Gaps between panels must not exceed 1mm

The loose lay LVT is designed to be laid with or without adhesive, as the extra thickness and weight, along with the specially designed backing, gives the product extra grip when laid. We would, however, recommend that a tackifier be used, just to give the floor covering that extra bit of adhesion to the raised access panels. Once installed, the panels below would be able to be accessed without issue, much the same as carpet tiles.

It is possible to mix and match both loose lay LVT and carpet tiles within an office area, allowing different zones to be created within one space. You may consider this option when searching for the best flooring for rolling office chairs, with one area of the office used by desk workers and another area designed for more communal purposes.

Our manufacturing partners consider this when designing new lines, meaning when you choose to have a carpet tile along with an LVT, there is a cohesive design throughout the office space.

It is possible to install other flooring options on top of raised access flooring with the use of plywood, however, this would not allow you to gain access to the subfloor should it be needed in the future without completely removing the flooring that is down.

2. Concrete subfloor:

This type of subfloor can still be found in modern office blocks, as well as older buildings, such as schools and hospitals. Having a concrete subfloor gives you a certain degree of flexibility in what you can install on top of, as long as it is in good shape.

Carpet tiles and loose lay LVT are still options, as the same fitting methods apply. However, the range of products increases to almost anything, as access to the subfloor no longer becomes an issue.

So, what other products can you install?

  • Standard LVT, 2-3mm
  • Rolled sheet vinyl, or rubber
  • Wood floor
  • Commercially-rated broadloom

With any installation of standard LVT, rolled sheet vinyl and/or rubber, we will always recommend installing a flooring grade self-levelling compound to any concrete subfloor. This allows us to install the top cover onto a flat surface, leaving you with a completely flat finish.

It is possible to install a wood floor directly on top of a concrete subfloor, along with a suitable underlay, as long as the subfloor is sound. It is worth mentioning here that once laid, this will restrict what you can do to those areas flooring-wise in the future.

Commercially-rated broadloom falls more or less in the same ballpark as wood flooring. As long as the subfloor is sound, sticking the carpet to a suitable underlay which is glued to the subfloor is the way to go. This method is used to avoid any rucking of the carpet from castor chairs through continuous use. We normally find this kind of installation suits a more traditional building, where the luxurious feel of a broadloom would be more in keeping with the style/age of the building.

3. Wooden floorboards subfloor:

We more often than not find this type of subfloor in older office buildings. Over time, these floorboards can become loose and uneven through wear and tear. It is, of course, an option to have them repaired by a joiner; stripped back, stained and varnished to have the natural look of wood throughout the office area. This does have its drawbacks, however.

It can leave the space feeling draughty due to air coming up from the floor, as well as having noise issues coming from people moving around the office. Noise can also be amplified with an echo.

It is possible to install a commercially-rated broadloom on top of floorboards as long as the subfloor is sound and level, along with a suitable underlay. As these types of subfloors are found in older buildings, we tend to find that a broadloom fits more into the keeping of the building.

However, if you wanted to install something a bit more modern, such as carpet tiles, LVT or vinyl, we would highly recommend installing a 6mm ply over the top of the floorboards beforehand as this takes out any unevenness in the floor before the top cover goes down.

Picking the Best Office Flooring for Your Office

If you would like more information on what is the best flooring for your office space, as well as any other queries regarding what has been covered above please contact us for more information on 0207 739 5051 / info@selbycontractflooring.co.uk.

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