A realtor and I visited an office building in Framingham recently. As we walked through the front door and into the lobby, she mentioned her concern that prospective tenants seemed to have a bad first impression of the building. The interior finishes looked worn and drab, and there was no ‘wow’ factor, which she feels is an important part of developing a tenant’s interest. She considered the idea that investing in the lobby and common areas of the property is just as critical as investing in the marketing the property. “Small changes in common area carpet and paint can make a realtor much more optimistic about the marketability of a property.”
Are your common areas doing all they can to sell your space?
Imagine yourself walking up to your building for the first time. What would you see? A nicely-designed lobby, or would you notice the stain on the carpet in the entry way, the ripples in the halls, the frayed carpet seams, would it feel dark or out of date? How would you feel about locating your office in this building? Does it need a little sprucing up? It’s not as complicated as you might think. With some well-planned and well-maintained flooring choices, you can add pizzazz, without even having to pull a permit. The simple act of changing flooring can have a transformative effect on a space, and it’s a high-impact, low-stress project.
Selecting the Right Materials
The commercial flooring universe of options is pretty complex, even though your local residential flooring company might have only a tiny section of their showroom devoted to it. That’s why for commercial applications, it makes sense to work with a contractor who specializes in commercial work and has daily experience with specifying commercial materials. Each material has benefits and limitations; we believe finding the right match of the floor’s intended purpose to the correct materials maximizes the useful life of the flooring for the money you’re investing.
Dressing it up: Consider a Pattern
To really change the look and feel of an area, consider selecting carpet with a dramatic pattern, or with contrasting borders. Larger patterns also hide stains and wear better than smaller or solid color carpets. If using tile, consider large format tile, which makes an area feel larger and more open, or having it installed on a 45-degree angle with a border around the edges.
Floor prep: What you don’t see makes a big difference
A commonly underestimated element is proper floor preparation. You’ve probably seen bubbly carpet, pitted vinyl tile or cracked ceramic tile. Often, these problems are caused by improperly prepared floors. When done right, the surface of the substrate is filled in with appropriate materials to withstand the daily pounding of foot traffic. When done wrong, or not at all, installed materials will telegraph the craters and bumps of the subfloor, causing flooring to wear out more quickly.
Entry Mat systems slow the wear and tear
Soon it will be winter in New England. Think of the money spent to sand and salt the walkways and parking lots around your building and the way this soil is routinely tracked into the building. It is estimated that 85% of the soil tracked into a building comes from the soles of people’s shoes, and most is distributed within the first 15 feet of carpet. As a result, floor covering maintenance can start outside the building with an entry system that will scrape dirt and debris off people’s shoes before they grind it into your new floors.
A Clean Routine
Creating and sticking to a maintenance plan will also extend the life of your flooring. Vacuum cleaning alone can remove up to 80% of the dirt from carpet, and when combined with regular cleaning using manufacturer-approved methods (hot water extraction, dry foam, dry absorbent compound, etc.) and spot stain treatment, carpet can have a longer lifecycle. Other materials such as VCT and ceramic tile need to be mopped regularly to avoid abrasion caused by dirt. Check with manufacturer guidelines to determine the best way to care for your floors, or ask your floor covering provider to help.
As flooring wears, maintenance issues arise. Trip hazards, broken seams and other maintenance should be repaired as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the materials. A good, full-service commercial floor covering contractor will be available to handle smaller service calls, not just large scale projects.
The Bottom Line
If your building needs a simple facelift, new flooring is an excellent option that dramatically changes the “feel” of a space. To get the most for your budget, be sure to select an experienced commercial flooring contractor who can help identify the best materials for the job, and make sure they’re installed and maintained properly.