Last edited 23 Jul 2021

Resilient flooring



[edit] Introduction

The term ‘flooring’ refers to the lower enclosing surface of spaces within buildings. This may be part of the floor structure, such as the upper surface of a concrete slab or floor boards, but typically it is a permanent covering laid over the floor. There are many types of flooring materials available. For more information see Types of flooring.

[edit] Resilient flooring

Resilient flooring is loosely defined as flooring manufactured from elastic materials. Products made out of these materials share certain characteristics - they are durable and firm, but they also offer a degree of 'bounce' or resilience. Examples include; cork, vinyl, linoleum, rubber, polymeric and mastic asphalt flooring.

[edit] History of resilient flooring

The earliest form of resilient flooring is rubber. The use of rubber for flooring was first recorded in the 12th and 13th centuries, but it became more widely adopted after Frank Furness patented the first interlocking rubber floor tiles in 1896. For more information see: Rubber flooring.

Linoleum was patented as a flooring material by Frederick Walton in 1860 and became popular shortly after its introduction. Its use declined after World War II, but it is currently experiencing a revival, due to its environmental performance. Most linoleum products are made from natural components - linseed oil, wood, limestone, cork and resins. For more information see: Linoleum and Cork flooring.

Shortly after it was introduced around 1900, cork flooring became the most popular resilient option. Mastic asphalt flooring was introduced around the same time and became widely used up until the 1950s. For more information see: Mastic asphalt flooring.

Vinyl flooring became available to consumers following the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933, but due to material shortages during World War II, it did not gain market share until the late 1940s. Despite its late arrival on the scene, vinyl is now one of the most commonly used materials for all types of flooring.

[edit] Resilient flooring applications

Rubber was originally made into mats for automobiles and backing for carpet. Now it is used in commercial applications such as hospitals, sports facilities, laboratories, schools, dance floors, restaurants and manufacturing sites, and for domestic applications such as playrooms, shower rooms, garages and home gymnasiums.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, resilient flooring became increasingly popular. Customers favoured these materials for their durability, noise reduction, comfort, slip resistance and static control. Most resilient flooring options were relatively easy to clean and maintain, and many were more affordable than some of the flooring options they were engineered to reproduce.

Their elasticity also made them popular in places where people were required to walk or stand for long periods of time. The bounce inherent in resilient flooring helped reduce foot and leg fatigue.

[edit] Characteristics of resilient flooring

Most types of resilient flooring are available as sheets or tiles, although some are also offered as interlocking tiles or clickable planks. Glue is a common form of installation for sheets and tiles, although another possible option for sheet flooring installation is welding - either with heat or chemicals.

With careful installation, these types of resilient flooring can help to bridge slight bumps and gaps that occur on an unfinished surface.

Mastic asphalt and polymeric floors are poured as liquids and spread out across surfaces to harden and cure. This creates a finish without seams. While mastic asphalt and polymer flooring options are not commonly used, they do have advantages in both commercial (in particular industrial) and domestic applications where water protection and durability are high priorities.

One disadvantage to some resilient flooring products is the possibility of indentation. Intense pressure from sharp objects (such as heavy items that are dropped or weighty equipment or appliances with unprotected feet) can permanently damage resilient flooring.

[edit] Maintenance

In most domestic installations, resilient flooring can be cleaned by vacuuming debris and then washing surfaces with soap or a neutral chemical cleaner and water. Many are manufactured with a special finish to retain a shiny appearance without the need to apply wax on a regular basis.

For commercial applications, it may be necessary to use professional products designed specifically for the type of environment or the surface. For instance, antibacterial products can be used on vinyl or rubber flooring installed in healthcare environments to reduce the chance of infection.

At the end of life, many resilient flooring products can either be disposed of as solid waste or recycled.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

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