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Ultimate Guide: How to Choose Matting & Flooring for your Workspace

With health and safety a top priority in any commercial workspace, you need to factor in several considerations when choosing floor coverings. Not only do they need to be hard-wearing, but they also need to be safe to walk on, easy to maintain, meet sustainability targets, look good and make a statement.

Warehouse flooring

This can be quite a challenge; how do you choose the right matting or flooring for your workspace floors?

Flooring location

The first thing to consider is where the new flooring will be installed in the workspace. The flooring in an office will be very different to the flooring in a warehouse because each workspace's needs are different.

Flooring for stairs, steps or shop floors also has different requirements. So, before you consider what type of flooring you are going to need, assess how much use the flooring will endure and its safety aspects. Entrances, gyms, swimming pools, and industrial walkways are often better with tough indoor matting, safe to walk on and non-slip or ribbed.

The questions you need to ask include:

  • What location is the flooring for?
  • Its usage, i.e. will it be used by just staff or customers too?
  • Will it be used in areas where it is exposed to oil, chemicals or sunlight?
  • Does it need to provide drainage?
  • Does it need to be hard-wearing, and if so, what wearing rating do you need to consider?
  • Practicality, i.e. does it need to be easy to clean?
  • Does it have to provide anti-fatigue benefits for staff?
  • Do different areas need to have different types of flooring?
  • Does it need to make an impression, such as flooring in a shop, or is it utility-based, like a warehouse floor?
  • Do you need to add any flooring accessories, like wayfinding stickers, stair covers and treads or tape to mark out specific areas or distances, as recently seen with the pandemic social distancing rules?
  • What is my budget? Perhaps the biggest question as this may determine the type of flooring you select

Workplace flooring

What to consider when choosing flooring for the commercial workspace

There are so many types of flooring available it can be challenging to know which is most suitable for your needs. But there are certain aspects to consider when making your decision.

Safety - in any workspace, safety is a high priority. In certain areas, like warehouses or factory floors, there are some regulations for commercial floors that need to be adhered to for compliance. The main aspect to think about is slip resistance, particularly in areas where there is a greater risk of slipping or where there is a tendency for spills that could result in slips. Many safety flooring's have a slip rating ranging from R9 for a high risk of slipping to R13 with a low risk of slipping. GRP (Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic) flooring sheets are a great option to cover large areas. As well as being textured and anti-slip, they are hard-wearing, can be used for forklift traffic, are easy to fix and can be used indoors or outdoors.

Sustainability - a major factor that many businesses need to consider as more and more people, including employees, are more environmentally aware. Using products with materials that are recyclable as well as reusable should always be the aim.

Maintenance - making sure the flooring you choose is easy to maintain and highly durable is essential. In commercial workspaces, you can expect heavy footfall and frequent use of machinery, such as forklift trucks. The wear and tear on this type of flooring will be much more significant than you would find in an office space. Most manufacturers assign a wear rating to their flooring, such as a wear rating class 33 for high usage areas. Other aspects to consider are resistance to stains and spills, the castor chair test and how well the flooring will retain its colour, particularly if you have used different colours to denote different areas in the commercial workspace.

Matting in the commercial workspace

Workplace flooring

In some commercial workspaces, rubber matting is often best, particularly from a safety aspect. In addition, most of today's commercial rubber matting is reusable and recyclable.

Rubber matting can be designed specifically for different applications, in varying thicknesses depending on requirements and styles. For example:

  • Anti-fatigue matting (or flooring) is a great option to relieve tiredness and reduce the risk of injuries in areas where employees stand for long periods of time. They are available with different anti-slip designs that also provide comfort, with or without a foam base, are stain-resistant, easy to maintain and keep clean, and some even have an absorbent pad.
  • Oil-safe matting for use in areas where oil is present, for example, near lathes or milling machines where cutting fluid may spill onto the floor. Nitrile rubber or PVC matting with drainage holes that allow liquid to disperse quickly is ideal
  • Electrical safety mats (ESD) are ideal for use in workshops or electrical workspaces where there is a need to reduce static build-up
  • Ribbed and retardant matting is good for use in welding bays or other areas that are at risk from sparks or hot spills – ensuring higher levels of safety for workers
  • Cold area matting is designed to withstand temperatures as low as -23°c. It's suitable for use in refrigerated vehicles, cold rooms and commercial freezers providing slip resistance in icy conditions
  • Entrance mats are often the most common type of rubber matting. Available in multiple thicknesses, they have a non-slip surface, can be used indoors or outdoors, and can also come with a carpet cover that has absorbent properties and can trap dirt and debris
  • Swimming pool and gym mats are essential in areas with a high risk of slipping, such as changing rooms, pathways and boat decks. Some are solid with anti-slip properties, like raised patterns, while others have holes that allow water and any other debris to fall through to the floor underneath but still retain their anti-slip capability
  • Industrial walkway mats are essential in areas where a high level of durability is needed. They can be used indoors or outdoors, are often ribbed to be able to withstand harsh environments, and are available in high-vis yellow for safety

In the last couple of years, we have seen a substantial increase in hazard tapes and wayfinding stickers to mark out social distancing areas and walkway routes. Industrial floor marking tapes and anti-slip stickers can be applied to just about any type of floor and come in various lengths, widths and colours, depending on requirements.

If you're unsure what type of flooring or matting you need for your commercial workspace, our highly experienced, knowledgeable team is on hand with valuable advice and guidance.

ESE Direct is a leading supplier of products for business, schools, colleges and universities, workshops and warehouses. With a wide and diverse range of products, more than 40 years' of knowledge and experience in the industry, a bespoke design and installation service and exceptional customer service, you can trust ESE Direct. Speak to Mark or Stuart in Technical Sales Support. T: 0808 258 2172 E: [email protected]

Photograph of Debs

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