Whether it is a school or a hospital, library or leisure centre, a high-quality entrance flooring system should always form an integral part of the building’s design scheme. Here, Sharron Kapellar, National Framework Manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, explains why and advises on how to design an efficient system.
When entering a public building, people will generally rush through the entrance to get to their destination without slowing down or stopping to wipe their feet. This results in dirt and moisture being traipsed into the building, which not only makes interiors look unattractive but can also lead to slip risks. It is therefore little wonder that Health and Safety legislation and the Equality Act imposes a duty of care on those who own and manage public buildings to prevent interior floor surfaces from becoming hazardous.
By carefully considering the floor coverings, local authorities can play a key role in helping to ensure that their buildings remain as safe as possible. Starting at the front door, entrance flooring can stop up to 95% of dirt and moisture being walked into a building, which can dramatically reduce the potential for slipping. However, because of the need for a firm surface, the use of loose lay mats and coir is strongly advised against by the Health and Safety Executive. Instead, a high quality entrance flooring system should be chosen for any public building.
The role of an entrance flooring system
The British Standard 7953:1999 states that an entrance flooring system is necessary in order to reduce the risk of slip injuries, prolong the life of the interior floor finish as well as reduce cleaning, repair and overall maintenance costs. And by incorporating an entrance flooring system, it should scrape, wipe and retain soil, making contact with both feet of people entering the building and, in the case of wheeled traffic, with the circumference of the wheels, releasing dirt easily when cleaned.
Designing an effective entrance flooring system
For an entrance flooring system to be effective, a number of different factors need to be considered, including its location, volume of traffic — the number of people walking in and out in a given period and the walking routes they will take once inside — as well as, the type of traffic that the building is expected to encounter. All of this information should then be applied in the design of the entrance area.
The industry recommendation is to use at least three metres of an entrance flooring system for light use areas and up to seven metres for busy entrance areas. The general rule is the more matting used, the more effective the entrance flooring system is at preventing dirt and moisture from entering a building.
Taking a zonal approach
One of the best ways to plan an entrance flooring system is to take a zonal solution approach, as each zone will require an entrance flooring to perform a different function. The complete system is guaranteed to efficiently remove dirt and moisture from feet and wheeled traffic, protecting interior floor coverings throughout the building and helping to minimise cleaning and maintenance costs.
For zone one, the exterior entrance flooring is placed immediately outside the building to defend against soil and scrape the coarsest of foot-borne dirt prior to crossing the threshold. In this zone, a rigid engineered entrance system such as Forbo’s Nuway (shown in the header image) is the ideal solution as the range offers some of the most durable and structurally integral products on the market. Choose from single or double-sided mats in a choice of wiper stripes or scraper bars, carriers or inserts, which will allow entrance systems to be co-ordinated with the overall interior finishes.
Moving inside, zone two covers the main entrance and is the next line of defence to remove moisture and finer dirt particles from all feet entering the building. Products used in this zone should provide maximum dirt removal, unrivalled dirt retention and exceptional moisture absorption. Forbo’s Coral Duo for example retains 10% more dirt in the first few metres than any other textile entrance flooring solution on the market, making it an ideal choice.
Zone three, often referred to as the ‘clean-off’ zone, applies to all other circulation areas within the building, which will also suffer from residual soiling, such as reception areas, corridors and walkways to other parts of the building, like stairs and lifts. In this zone, Forbo’s Coral Brush is a functional all-rounder, absorbing moisture and removing dry soiling as the weather demands whilst serving as an eye-catcher or self-effacing support for the rest of the floor design. On the other hand, research shows that just two steps on Coral Classic’s moisture absorbing yarn is enough to absorb half the footborne moisture that would otherwise be carried inside on the soles of people’s shoes.
Minimising cleaning and maintenance
Choosing to install an entrance flooring system will not only optimise the long-term wear and appearance of interior floor coverings, but it will also minimise the requirement for intensive floor cleaning throughout the rest of the building. With budgets becoming tighter year-on-year, and data suggesting that floor coverings can account for up to 60% of a building’s total cleaning and maintenance cost, the potential savings are considerable.
In fact, testing by Cleaning Research International shows that Forbo’s Coral collection can stop up to 95% of dirt and moisture from entering a building, with each m2 of Coral able to remove up to 5kg of soil or six litres of water, which in turn can reduce the time spent cleaning the building’s other interior floor coverings by up to 65%. The savings made within six months means that the product and fitting costs for Coral are recouped within six months of use, demonstrating the significant cost benefits of using an effective entrance flooring system.
With 95% of dirt being traipsed into a building coming from the soles of shoes or treads of wheeled traffic, there is no doubt that entrance flooring systems have a critical role to play in safety. Tough and resilient, they can also help to keep interiors looking fresh and presentable year in, year out. Therefore, when it comes to working on your next public building project, it is recommended that you liaise with a reputable manufacturer at the start of your project to ensure that you specify the correct and most effective entrance flooring system for the job.
For more information on Forbo’s entrance flooring systems please visit www.forbo-flooring.co.uk/efs