Restrooms in commercial facilities take a lot of abuse and require ongoing cleaning to maintain proper sanitation. The right flooring system is a crucial first step.
By Sophia Daukus
When customers or guests visit a facility’s public restroom only to find it dingy, outdated or not in keeping with other areas within the building, they can be left with a less-than-favorable impression of the business or service. Compare that to a location that has fresh, updated and beautiful décor throughout, including the guest restroom, underscoring a standard of excellence respective hygiene and overall quality of the entire establishment. A customer who experiences a high level of cleanliness and aesthetics when visiting the facility restroom notices it — and appreciates it. And in this day and age of instant dissemination of facts, digital photos and opinions, who can afford to have customers turned off by grimy, worn out public restrooms or questionable sanitation?
If the establishment is a restaurant, and the customer finds the restroom has dirty, cracked or moldy floors and fixtures, it’s almost certain that his or her next thought will turn to the sanitation and conditions of the kitchen. Make no mistake — customers or clients are less likely to return or refer others after a negative public bathroom experience.
The Wrong Materials Encourage Bacteria and Mold Growth
Not all problematic restrooms are in visibly poor condition — the problems may be hidden, at least for a time. Some bathrooms feature beautiful wooden stalls or polished stainless-steel framing. Perhaps the floor covering is a popular ceramic tile pattern or vinyl surface that looks attractive when first installed. What may not be obvious, however, is that many of these materials do not perform well in high humidity and/or high traffic locations. Depending on their construction or installation method, many flooring products can encourage mold growth, even within the materials themselves, leading to damage, unpleasant odors and an unsanitary environment.
If the floors are vinyl sheeting, laminate or linoleum, there can be a tendency for moisture to enter into the seams, encouraging the material to buckle, crack, peel, stain or otherwise deteriorate. Surfaces originally designed primarily for single-family households can be difficult to keep clean in busy public restrooms and often don’t perform well under twice-daily exposure to heavy-duty cleaners. Dirt and grime can collect in crevices, seams and grout lines and particularly where the floors meet the walls. The resultant mold, bacteria and pathogens are then able to make their way into the air and into the floor covering. Eventually, costly repairs or renovations are necessary.
It Starts with the Right Flooring
Restrooms in commercial facilities take a lot of abuse, due to their heavy usage and the fact that they are very moist environments. They require ongoing cleaning to maintain proper sanitation and the right flooring system is crucial to supporting these needs.
Ceramic tile, though still seen frequently, is a less than optimal choice in public restrooms. Mop water and moisture tend to gather in grout line depressions, becoming a perfect environment for the proliferation of bacteria and pathogens. Rather than isolating water and fluids on the surface, the seams and grout can draw the liquids in, encouraging the growth of bacteria and mold in between tiles and even underneath the floor covering. With time, the room’s air quality can suffer, while the unpleasant and unhealthful odors can become almost impossible to eliminate, even with the harshest commercial cleaning agents.
In the same vein, plank and sheet goods, such as laminate and linoleum floors, are often unable to withstand rigorous cleaning protocols. These flooring systems can be more prone to buckling or edge warping in highly frequented, damp public restrooms. Again, any water absorption can lead to problems and the need for repair or replacement.
Flooring Must Stand Up to Different Stresses
There are additional factors to consider. Depending on the purpose of the facility, and the types of people who come and go, issues of durability need to be thought through when planning a new flooring system. Will your visitors have strollers or wheelchairs? Will workers be wearing heavy shoes/boots and tracking in more than the usual amounts of snow, salt or chemical de-icers, sand, dust or dirt? The floors need to be able to withstand the added pressures brought on by exposure to any heavy equipment, impact, chemicals and strenuous cleaning protocols.
The Same Quality AND Branding Message Throughout
Successful restaurant and retail operations put their best face forward for customers and guests with creative themes, designs and enticing displays. To take best advantage of their opportunity to positively impress visitors, informed managers understand that these motifs must extend throughout the entire establishment. If the facility’s public restrooms are of noticeably lesser quality, it’s a logical leap in the minds of visitors that high standards and attention to detail may not be true for everything that company represents, including products or services.
Today, commercial restroom facilities can be included in the overall design and aesthetics of the rest of the establishment. And there’s no need to sacrifice beauty for industrial-grade quality and ease of maintenance. With budget-friendly fluid-applied resinous flooring, restaurants and retail business managers can have durable designer flooring that is exceptionally simple and economical to clean, even as it withstands the strenuous conditions of busy operations over the long term.
Eliminate Needless and Costly Repairs and Replacement
For additional protection, incorporate integral floor-to-wall cove bases in public restrooms, which eliminate the intersecting seam where the wall meets the floor. Coved floors can be an ideal solution to alleviating this notoriously difficult-to-clean location where dirt, moisture and bacteria gather and start their process of breaking down the flooring and wall materials. This unsanitary condition, when left unchecked, can eventually result in the need for repairs or replacement. Integral floor-to-wall coving, whether it extends vertically 4 or 6 inches, is a special feature of resinous flooring that provides a seamless, curved intersection for exceptionally effective, efficient cleaning and sanitizing. Additionally, properly selected chemical resistant resinous flooring can withstand exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals, urine and other fluids without staining or absorption. Depending on the system, fluid-applied floors can be installed to handle heavy impact, compression by large equipment or abrasion. Thanks to its industrial-strength resins and today’s new designs, these floors can meet the needs of restaurants and retail facilities, both practically and aesthetically. They offer some of the lowest lifecycle costs available, providing significant overall value.
Proper Flooring for Beauty, Easy Cleaning and Long-Lasting Durability
One of the best solutions for an easily maintained and sanitized restroom floor is a resinous fluid-applied flooring system. These high performance, impervious floor coverings help eliminate the unsanitary conditions brought about by porous materials, bacteria-laden grout lines in tile floors, or un-coated concrete slabs, and provide beautifully decorative, highly durable, impact- and slip-resistant surfaces. Antimicrobial features are also available.
Resinous fluid-applied flooring systems are available in a broad spectrum of designs, ranging from strictly utilitarian in appearance to virtually limitless custom designs and colors. For additional excitement, corporate logos and motifs can even be embedded into the flooring itself, carrying the company’s brand and themes throughout the entire facility.
Fortunately, there’s no need to sacrifice beauty and style in order for facility restrooms to meet the same high standards as the rest of your restaurant or retail location. With properly selected and professionally installed resinous flooring, owners and managers can feel confident that their restrooms, like the other areas of their establishment, support the company’s reputation of high quality products and services, cleanliness and attention to detail — with no hidden surprises.
Having a high performance, impervious and slip-resistant public restroom floor that is easy to clean, extremely durable, and pleasing to the eye has a strong and positive effect on the brand image. Take steps to implement this change and reap the benefits.
— Sophia Daukus is marketing communications manager for Florock Polymer Flooring, manufactured in Chicago since 1952. Florock offers one of the most complete lines of epoxy flooring and concrete floor coatings on the market with decorative, high performance solutions to address the unique conditions of nearly every application. For more information, visit www.florock.net.