As our world keeps changing, the adage “our children are our future” has never been more true or more important. While households and families are the most vital aspects of child development, we here at Europine recognize the special role that formal education holds in a child’s growth and development.
Schools and universities are where children become students and grow into their identities. As such, the ergonomics and design choices of an educational facility can go a long way in determining the outcomes of future generations.
Aside from this special responsibility, schools and universities must also consider factors such as budgets, city codes, and health regulations. This makes choosing the right flooring materials for education quite the challenge.
Traditionally, educational facilities’ floors have been comprised of flooring products such as carpet, laminate, and vinyl composite tiles (VCT). While these types of school flooring have had their various pros and cons, the flooring industry is now offering new options for education flooring.
Luxury vinyl flooring, particularly luxury vinyl plank (LVP), has become a popular flooring solution for many of the challenges school floorings face. In this article, we will examine some of the considerations schools and universities must keep in mind when choosing the right flooring, as well as how LVP represents the best flooring option overall.
Stimulating Creativity and Engagement
It has been well established among academic circles that public education systems are modeled after the circumstances that public education was created in, namely the Industrial Revolution. Ringing bells, specialized wings for subjects, cookie-cutter classroom designs, and other facets of educational facilities all bear resemblances to factories.
Modern science has shown that this model, while perhaps effective at first, is no longer the best way to stimulate and engage students. Using colorful and unique aesthetics in the classroom can lead to increased creativity and productivity, especially at younger ages. While elementary and middle schools can greatly benefit from vibrant designs, high school students have also responded positively to colorful visual environments.
Luxury vinyl plank flooring has quickly grown in popularity among educational administrators as 3D printing capabilities allow a nearly unlimited range of visual designs. LVP is often selected to emulate the look and feel of wood-style floors, but it also excels with abstract patterns and designs. This allows schools to modify the floor aesthetics to match the classroom’s subject matter, such as using space designs in a science classroom or depicting octave scales on a music room’s floor.
Meeting Health and Safety Standards
Wherever there are children, there are sure to be health and safety concerns. Human bodies do not stop growing and changing until the ages of 18-25. Some crucial standards that need to be met are: indoor air quality, hygienic properties, and slip resistance.
In the past, there was little knowledge on the relationship between air quality and flooring materials. However, it is now known that some flooring materials present an environmental risk via the release of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. While modern version of traditional flooring materials have greatly reduced the emission of VOCs, luxury vinyl planks are constructed to emit zero VOCs.
As most school curriculums include some time for outdoor activity, be it recess or P.E. classes, it is an inescapable truth that outside contaminants will be brought indoors. It is not just the dirt and mud on the bottom of shoes; all sorts of microbes and debris can be tracked inside. Carpet is especially vulnerable to these hygiene risks, but even VCT and laminate flooring can present health concerns if they are not rigorously cleaned and waxed. LVP flooring in education buildings are immune to these risks as the plank material is engineered to be anti-microbial. This property allows luxury vinyl planks to meet stringent hospital standards, making it perfect for schools.
The well-being of students requires more than hygienic protections. Between vending machines, water fountains, and rainy weather, the potential for water to accumulate and pose a slip-risk is always present at schools. Coupled with youthful energy and desire for play, students can inadvertently slip and fall. While it may seem most students can slip, fall, brush it off, and get back up rather effortlessly, the reality is that a single fall can lead to a well-placed concussion or head injury that can pose serious, and sometimes fatal, outcomes. LVP is naturally waterproof and slip-resistant, making it a superior choice for preventing any major accidents or grave injuries.
Picking the right design and pattern for a school floor can lead to more than just providing creative juice and increasing attentiveness. It can also help make differently-abled students feel more included. Educational flooring can be laid with a specific pattern called a “way-finding” design.
These designs can help students with poor vision, color-blindness, or other developmental differences to find their way around the school. The way-finding designs essentially provide visual cues as to which way to go, and specialized color schemes (such as tritanope, greyscale, deuteranope, and protanope) can ensure no information is lost for color-blind or color vision deficient students.
There is a growing need to maximize space within educational facilities. Whether due to budgeting constrictions or efficiency optimization, there is a growing trend among schools to create multi-purpose areas.
Having a multi-purpose area means having the flexibility to meet spontaneous challenges, such as scheduling conflicts. If an art or music room is suddenly unavailable, having an area that can serve as a “jack-of-all-trades” section can prevent headaches and issues.
Creating these areas is tricky, however. To effectively construct a space that is capable of serving multiple different needs with little to no transitional downtime, the space must maximize the power of design and texture. The room needs to simultaneously feel both “general” and “specific.” If the area is not being used, it should be hard to guess what the area is used for. Likewise, when in use, the area should not feel “wrong” for the activity taking place.
Luxury vinyl plank is a perfect educational flooring for this purpose. With the right textural design and visual aesthetics, LVP can convey a perfectly balanced milieu for a flexible, multi-purpose room.
Most, if not all educational institutions, are subject to budgetary concerns. Generally speaking, most schools and universities remain open for decades. Whereas other businesses and operations may relocate or shut down after a few years, educational facilities must always think long-term.
The upfront cost of flooring installation is not the only financial concern; the long-term costs of cleaning, maintenance, repair, and replacement are crucial when selecting the best flooring for schools and universities.
Likewise, the time it takes to install or renovate floors must also be factored in (this may not apply as much to institutions that experience summer breaks).
By choosing LVP as an education flooring option, time and money can be saved. Luxury vinyl plank is slightly more expensive than VCT upfront, but after 3-5 years the total costs are evenly matched. LVP is the easiest floor to clean, requiring nothing more than sweeping and mopping (that means no expensive waxing). This reduces the cost of cleaning materials as well as the cost of labor. It is also relatively cheaper to perform repairs or replacements should there be any damage. However, LVP is extremely resilient and typically does not require replacement as quickly as other floors. It is quick and easy to install or repair, eliminating any time constraints typically associated with other types of flooring.
Have Additional Questions?
If you are considering installing new floors or replacing old flooring in your educational facility, it would be our absolute pleasure to answer any questions and quell any concerns you may have. At Europine, we believe in engaging clients with open and honest discourse. Contact us today to open up a dialogue regarding your educational flooring needs!