Guy Stanton, director, Nora Flooring Systems UK, highlights some of the useful qualities of rubber floor coverings in the educational environment.
The physical environment has a strong influence on learning and with floor coverings forming a major component within the building they require careful consideration.
Those responsible for planning and constructing educational buildings are faced with widely differing challenges. However, all projects have one thing in common: the practically airtight construction methods that are used today to save energy. These minimise air exchange in buildings and make the use of low emission materials absolutely indispensable.
Ensuring healthy indoor air is vital. This not only relates to the floor covering itself, which must be harmless to health and ecologically safe, but also installation materials such as primers, fillers and adhesives, as well as the quality of the work, all play a major role in achieving a healthy learning environment.
Rubber floor coverings are the ideal solution for educational projects. They are exceptionally kind to the environment and provide warmth underfoot, they are comfortable enough for pupils to sit on and have excellent acoustic properties and can also reduce the severity of injury in the event of a fall, making it practical for all ages from nurseries through to adult education.
In terms of health, rubber floor coverings do not contain any PVC or plasticizers, are slip resistant and are toxicologically safe in the event of fire. The closed dense surface of rubber floor coverings does not require a coating, therefore there are no minuscule cracks or holes which can appear over time for dirt or bacteria to penetrate. This prevents the need for subsequent renewals that are not only time-consuming and expensive but also lead to considerable operational disruptions during the refurbishment process.
In terms of day-to-day maintenance, the floor coverings are dirt repellent, and naturally resist bacteria and mould. The dense, closed surface allows for easy and economic cleaning, without the use of aggressive cleaning agents. There is even a system using pads impregnated with microscopic diamonds that cleans and polishes the floors using nothing more than water.
Rubber is a versatile material and can be produced in a wide range of colours and bespoke design options, creating environments which are not only healthy but also have a motivating, visual appearance. Pictograms, signs and instructions can also be inlaid to the flooring to give the design added value functionality.
New products are continually being developed. The latest to be launched this year is a self-adhesive rubber flooring system: the back of the flooring is lined with a rubber-based adhesive under a protective film that is simply peeled off prior to installation.
The range also includes special installation materials like filler and primer for preparing the subsurface – all components are perfectly matched to each other. Not only is this new product extremely fast to lay, the system is also completely moisture-tolerable saving valuable time that would otherwise be spent waiting for the floors to dry.
Rubber flooring can really make a strong contribution to the creation of a healthy and aesthetically welcoming building, one that makes people feel happier. It is perhaps unsurprising that students learning in these environments often perform better.Notre Dame Catholic College, Liverpool
© Hufton + Crow Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet
© Hufton + Crow