Medical Office Flooring

Thursday January 08, 2009
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The floor surface in a medical facility should be safe and durable enough to handle a high level of foot traffic. Keep in mind that the floor must be suitable for wheelchairs, walkers and canes. It should also be hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and made with adhesives and finishes that are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are carbon-based, chemical compounds that are often used in flooring and floor materials. They are commonly associated with health problems such as allergies, asthma and respiratory disease.

Linoleum floors are a great choice for a medical office as they are resilient and made almost entirely from natural materials. A low-maintenance flooring, linoleum can last for decades when properly cared for. In addition, the surface of linoleum resists common household allergens such as mites and pollen, and deters mold and fungi growth. Wheelchairs, those with joint pain, and children can all enjoy the comforts of linoleum flooring.

Rubber can also work well as medical office flooring. Like linoleum, rubber flooring is hypoallergenic, resilient and low-maintenance. Rubber floors can be made with either natural or synthetic materials. Note that some people are allergic to latex, the substance used to manufacture natural rubber floors. Although synthetic rubber floors are petroleum-based, they can last longer than natural rubber flooring and can be recycled at the end of their useful lives.

Although tile flooring is durable and long-lasting, they can be very slippery when wet. This aspect makes them unsuitable as a floor surface in a medical office. Floors that offer a higher level of slip resistance, such as vinyl, rubber and linoleum, are more appropriate in a medical facility where the chances of a slip are higher. Concrete floors can also be slippery when wet; however, they can be textured to increase their slip-resistance. The surface of concrete flooring needs to be sealed periodically in order to prevent damage from spills and acidic substances (e.g. urine).

Floors that are made with woody materials such as bamboo and hardwood, while beautiful, may not be a good choice for a medical office. Softer types of hardwood and bamboo are prone to damage from high foot traffic. Additionally, exposure to extreme changes in humidity can bamboo and hardwood planks to expand and contract (which can lead to cupping). Laminate flooring that's made for commercial areas and high levels of foot traffic (e.g. laminate with an Abrasion Class rating of AC4 or AC5) may be able to handle the wear and tear of a medical office and can be made to look just like hardwood or bamboo.


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