Back to School With Spotlight on Flooring

School is back in session and the last few months have been a flurry of activity for commercial flooring contractors—finishing up installations before the first bell rings. Years ago, K-12 flooring was pretty predictable—VCT tile or sheet vinyl, highly polished, in classrooms and corridors was all that was used. Luckily, those days are gone and design has made its way into the classroom.

Open plan classroomA multitude of teaching styles is what younger grade levels are experiencing: one-on-one teaching, small group learning, and interactive classroom learning. Flooring has had to morph into a functional foundation for these flex-learning environments. Carpet tile has been a huge influence in elementary grade level design. Manufacturers have designed modular systems in coordinating patterns and colors that can be used to create large open areas, as well as delineate areas for small groups. The benefits to modular systems are many: design flexibility (of course); constructions that minimize allergens, acoustic buffering, soft surface comfort, and of course, ease of replacement of damaged tiles.

Student loungeHigher Ed has evolved to a more sophisticated statement in its flooring designs. Wood looks, stone looks, and stunning carpet designs are working together to create attractive environments conducive to learning. This market especially has discovered the aesthetic of wood and stones created in easy-maintenance luxury vinyl tile and planks. The growth of LVT in the higher education sector has been phenomenal. Even student housing on college campuses is striving for a more-homey, upscale feel and LVP has efficiently filled that niche. Once again, the old-school (predictable) days of using VCT throughout classrooms and campus buildings are all but gone.

If you feel a little bit envious of current day students, you are not alone. The institutional classroom looks of our former alma maters can’t begin to compare to the on-trend mix of floor coverings used in today’s educational settings. (Interesting thought: for what is charged for a college education today, no wonder interior design has become such an important part of the competitive landscape for attracting students.) We have to give kudos to the floor covering industry for rising to the ever-changing design challenge.

Getting Transition Molding Right

Submitted by Steve Cooper

Molding for transition from one flooring material to another appears inconsequential. It hardly seems worth a blog post. That is, until you walk barefoot over a threshold that has been poorly designed. How does a bad transition make you yelp or squirm? Let’s count the ways.

transition wood_carpet1. Too narrow

2. Too high

3. A too-sharp edge

4. Splinters

5. Nails

You’ll know what’s wrong the minute you step on it. Your foot may glide across the transition but get creased by a sharp back edge. A nailhead may snag your stocking. Or the width will be so narrow that it’s slightly painful if the molding is stepped on squarely.

transition moldingWood-molding remedies are easy as long as the design gets attention prior to installation. Don’t let one be made so tall that you can stub your toe on it. Instead, have it built at least 3 inches wide, tapering down at each side. A 6- to 8-inch-wide transition may seem excessive, but it provides comfort. All nails should be set and the holes filled. For screws, countersink holes to eliminate a potential hazard.

If you are using metal or any other material for the thresholds, check for comfort before installtion by testing it with bare feet. Make sure no screw heads will be sticking up.

Let your installer know that you are concerned about comfort at transition points. This often goes unmentioned and, since molding is the last item during installation, it does not always get the attention it needs.

For more information on flooring visit the World Floor Covering Association’s Consumer Carpet & Flooring Guide.