Design must lay good foundations

Style, safety and durability key considerations when it comes to flooring

CUSTOMERS judge first with their eyes; a fact more inherently true for bars, restaurants, nightclubs and hotels than it is for most other businesses.

When it comes to an overarching appearance in the on-trade, the right flooring plays a significant part – but there’s more to selecting a type and style of flooring than meets the eye.

As a venue’s flooring is subjected to everything from boots to stilettos, it also needs to be hard-wearing, safe and simple enough to clean and maintain – in addition to looking good.

“Flooring is often the single biggest internal canvas on which a venue can state its style and demonstrate to customers its seriousness in a particular marketplace,” said Ross Nicholl, managing director of The Wooden Floor Store.

Operators, said Nicholl, have to consider the difference between venues which have “something funky, stylish and on current trends with the right décor versus something worn, out of fashion and needing replaced”.

He said: “I know which one I would rather visit for a night out.

“The flooring must be right and can make or break the whole décor – everyone sees it.”

Richard Blockley, co-owner of Glasgow-based firm Allfloors, agreed.

“Flooring is one of the things that has to be right, it can have a massive visual impact on the customer’s first impression,” he said.

Flooring is often the single biggest internal canvas on which a venue can state its style.

Choosing the right flooring naturally depends on the particular venue and there’s a few aspects to contemplate, said Blockley, including appearance, how much wear and tear it will be subjected to, ease of maintenance and cost as well as a potential need to be slip-resistant – especially in an industry where spills are commonplace.

In fact, with the safety of customers and staff paramount, slippery flooring has to be avoided at all costs, said Nicholl of The Wooden Floor Store.

He advised operators to “stay away from smooth gloss finishes” to prevent trips and slips.

“A textured brush finish would be recommended in these environments from an anti-slip point of view,” he said.

And from a stylistic point of view, Nicholl said there has been an increased clamour for parquet and chevron-style flooring, which he said are particularly on-trend, as well as a rise in demand for “minimalist European light colours which have come back into fashion”.

It’s also becoming more commonplace to mix styles of flooring, said Nicholl, who believes the right combination can refine a venue’s overall look.

He said: “For example, a restaurant could have the same sort of colouring throughout but some in a herringbone finish and others in wider longer planks with narrower planks elsewhere or an oak with a trendy walnut parquet board; the opposite can work well when tied in with furniture and other decor.”

Finally, buying quality was said to be crucial to getting the most from flooring – changes to styles and fashions notwithstanding.

“A well-chosen floor can easily last over 20 years if well-maintained,” said Blockley of Allfloors.

“It pays to invest in the best quality flooring that you can.”

The Wooden Floor Store’s Nicholl reinforced this point, saying an increased initial investment in flooring can save money in the long term.

He said: “Go for a heavy veneer if buying engineered wood flooring.

“A few more pounds now can get you double the veneer thickness, the installation cost is the same and the lifetime you get is much, much greater.”