Never have there been so many options available for hospitality flooring as there are today. Designers and hoteliers can choose from natural hardwoods, carpet and carpet tiles, synthetic materials like luxury vinyl tile and new materials designed to dampen sound.
LVT vs. Hardwood
As we’ve noted before, there are several benefits to using LVT in hotels, especially in terms of durability and long-term costs. “LVT allows operators to avoid the more frequent replacement and maintenance costs of carpet, ceramic tile and hardwood alternatives,” said Paul Eanes, VP of sales for Metroflor. “LVT maintenance is easier, and it wears better over time in heavy traffic areas.” Waxes, strippers and sealers are not required for LVT floors, which results in lower water consumption and fewer chemicals for cleaning. In the long run, the reduction of chemicals and water means the area’s groundwater is less likely to be contaminated.
There is an aesthetic benefit to LVT, as well. The material can imitate other hard surfaces while providing designers with unique design choices—for example, natural wood or stone or ceramic tiles.
The LVT available today is decidedly more advanced than what was available just a few years ago, especially regarding the advent of rigid core products. “Rigid core floating floors install quickly, are 100-percent waterproof and have antimicrobial qualities,” Eanes said. “Underfoot comfort and lower noise levels versus other types of hard surface are other key factors in this evolution to LVT in hospitality settings. Floating floors are preferable especially when a noise-abating underlayment that will not foster mold or mildew is selected." “Floating” floors can install over existing hard surface floors, including ceramic tile, and hide minor subfloor imperfections.
On the other hand, some designers might prefer hardwood floors, especially if the hardwood can be combined with synthetic materials. “While LVT telegraphs every little nuance in the subfloor if it is not perfectly flat, real wood hides subfloor imperfections,” said Jason Brubaker, VP of sales & marketing at Nydree Flooring. “Even though HD imaging technology has recently improved the look of LVT, nothing compares to the natural variation and warmth of real wood. Acoustics are also often much better with real wood.”
Nydree infuses wood with acrylics, which Brubaker says improves the life of the product. “It will never have to be replaced in the life of a building,” he said. “Wear characteristics alone indicate an LVT floor will need to be replaced long before our acrylic-infused real wood floor.”
Every wood species inherently has a different degree of hardness, he continued, which makes different types of wood suitable for different areas depending on traffic. For high-traffic areas, Brubaker recommends harder species like maple, oak and ash.
Broadloom Carpets vs. Carpet Tiles
For softer flooring options, hoteliers can lay down large broadloom carpets or smaller carpet tiles. “To compare broadloom and carpet tiles, you need to compare them as a fully installed product,” said Mark Oldfield, SVP Americas at Brintons. “Broadloom carpets typically include a pad that is glued to both the floor below and the carpet above. Normally, the installation is a bit cheaper with carpet tiles because you don't have to buy a pad with carpet tile.” Similarly, carpet rolls can be as wide as 13-feet across, while tiles often come in 3-foot squares, minimizing leftover material.
Carpet tiles also can be easily removed replaced as they wear down. “The challenge comes a bit further down the line when the carpet's been in use for a few years,” Oldfield said. “It's been cleaned, it's been walked on. The appearance has changed over time. And then you put a brand new carpet tile into an installation—it can stick out a lot more than that carpet tile that's been damaged.” Oldfield recommends replacing worn-out or damaged tiles with pieces from the edge of a room, and putting the new tile on the perimeter where it’s less noticeable.
In May, Hilton debuted its “Five Feet to Fitness” guestrooms with a dedicated workout space. This fitness zone includes specialized flooring from Ecore that looks like hardwood, but is specifically designed for a workout. In July, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville also installed Ecore’s flooring in its updated 2,000 square-foot fitness room.
Constructed from recycled materials—primarily rubber—Ecore’s floors provide force reduction and energy restitution that minimize the constant impact exercise exerts on the body, specifically the knees and joints, said Bo Barber, VP of marketing and business development at Ecore.
The company’s most popular products are part of the Rx Collection, which bond a 5-millimeter recycled rubber backing to a heterogeneous vinyl sheet from Polyflor. “The result: a surface that provides more safety, acoustic, and ergonomic benefits than LVT or rubber mats over a concrete surface,” Barber said. “You want your guests to be safe and avoid injuries, to have an optimal fitness experience by working out on a floor that provides force reduction and energy restitution, and you want to contain the sounds in the fitness space to the fitness area. The guests sleeping above the fitness room don’t want to hear weights dropping or the TV that’s blaring while someone is on a cardio machine.”
Different companies have used different products from Ecore for fitness centers—or guestrooms, in some cases. Hilton, for example, uses Ecore’s ECOFit and Forest rx surfaces in its fitness-focused suites. “Marriott, on the other hand, uses a variety of Ecore surfaces for its fitness suites, including surfaces from the ECOsurfaces and Rx Collections, as well as specialty products, like cork and turf,” Barber said.
The fitness center in Marriott’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, meanwhile, uses ECOfit, a 3.2-millimeter ECOsurfaces layer fusion-bonded to a recycled rubber backing, and Bounce 2, a synthetic wood-grain surface that is fusion-bonded to a 5-millimeter rubber backing.