Q: As the Estates Director of a university, I have responsibility for the well-being of our students. Can the choice of flooring make a difference?
A: Yes, the choice of flooring can most certainly have an impact. Let’s start at the beginning with the entrances. Chances are that your students don’t slow down or wipe their feet when they walk into the various buildings on the campus; they just stride on. This is why it’s important to install an entrance flooring product to keep the outside world, outside. Third-party tests* have proved that an entrance fitted with Forbo’s Coral with six metres walking depth can keep up to 94% of all walked in dirt and moisture out of a building, greatly reducing the potential for slips. The University of Bedfordshire coupled Coral with Forbo’s Nuway rigid entrance mats to provide an integrated entrance system suitable for the very high level of footfall they experience.
Safety flooring should be used in any areas where there is an increased slip risk. When choosing safety flooring it’s important to ensure that the product meets the HSE’s wet pendulum test value of ≥ 36 – ie a low slip risk. Loughborough University chose Forbo’s Surestep Wood safety flooring to separate the workstations from the seating area when refurbishing a large and modern, informal learning space on campus.
Another area where flooring can impact on students’ well-being is ‘air quality’ with some floor coverings being approved by Allergy UK including Forbo’s Marmoleum and Flotex. Acoustics can also be relevant, particularly in student accommodation where impact sound reduction from the rooms above can be vital. Acoustic vinyl, Flotex flocked flooring or carpet tiles are all ideal for this type of application.
Finally, there’s the choice of colour and flooring design. According to research commissioned by Architects Journal, ‘When colour is correctly fused with quality design, environments are created in which humans can prosper,’so choosing colourways that have a positive impact on both students and lecturers is a key element of well-being. With Forbo’s product range including carpet tiles and both sheet and tile resilient products, there’s a design and colour to complement any university commercial interior.
*Third-party tests undertaken by TUV Rheinland