Hygiene standards in public spaces will be subject to unprecedented levels of scrutiny as the world emerges from the COVID-19 crisis. The retail and leisure sector was perhaps the hardest hit during the period of lockdown, with shops, cafes and showrooms remaining closed and vital revenues being lost. In order to comply with Government safety rules in relation to social distancing, retail outlets are having to reconfigure how they operate and in some cases, redesign their premises. Flooring is a crucial part of any refurbishment. Therefore, David Hockley, Area Technical Manager at Sika, looks at systems which have been developed in order to maintain the highest levels of cleanliness, particularly in hygiene-critical public spaces.
COVID-19 has forced an abrupt and fundamental change in our domestic, working and social lives. Adapting to a ‘new normal’ will be vital for the country’s post-lockdown economic recovery, particularly as we return in number to high streets and shopping centres. Confidence is key to the fiscal bounce back. Shoppers obeying new queuing and distancing rules need assurance that the risk-averse strategy is supplemented by retail outlets being emphatic in enforcing strict hygiene control. For some business owners, it could mean reconfiguring their premises to prevent crowding, while others might choose refurbishment as a way of optimising cleanliness in line with Government directives. If the latter option is abided by, then it should be worth noting that smooth, easy-to-clean flooring helps create a sanitised environment.
Joint and crack-free walls and flooring are a must in hygiene-critical spaces, which no longer only include hospitals and health facilities. Therefore; resin, rather than traditional floorcoverings such as linoleum or tile, represents a more hygienic option in these areas.
Resin-based flooring solutions, such as those within Sika’s ComfortFloor range, are completely free from joints and seams – even at colour changes in the design or at floor-to-wall transitions – that offer a hiding place for dirt and other microscopic bacteria to develop. The system’s smooth and hard-wearing finish is quick and easy to clean, as well as being able to withstand aggressive sanitary regimes without damaging the flooring itself.
ComfortFloor’s rapid-curing property is another benefit, minimising downtime for shops and workspaces where it is installed. This cost-effectiveness extends to the way in which ComfortFloor systems can be efficiently and easily regenerated, to; therefore, offset significant revenue loss for the store or property owner. Extending the service life of an existing flooring system through the resurfacing of a topcoat compatible with the original floor provides a brand-new surface and the option of changing the colour. Regenerating a thicker floor is possible with diamond grinding pads which remove any existing surface damage and restore a ComfortFloor to the same glossy surface of a new system.
With its ComfortFloor range, Sika provides a system with the environmental credentials to match its superb performance. It is the only resin flooring solution in the market to be classified in the BRE Green Guide with an A+ rating, setting a benchmark for sustainability in the industry. No emissions are released during application of Sika ComfortFloor systems, which are installed without adhesive or underlay. This contributes to a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional flooring systems and creates a healthier indoor environment.
Style and substance
Style needn’t be obscured in the desire for hygienic flooring. For shops and other retail spaces, creating an environment that is welcoming and attractive could be the difference between making a sale or a customer choosing to walk on by. ComfortFloor Marble FX, a new addition to the ComfortFloor range, is a unique decorative system. It has almost limitless design possibilities and can be tailored to incorporate colours, patterns and imagery to suit a particular need. It means as well as helping uphold the highest hygiene standards, ComfortFloor Marble FX can be used as a promotional tool by carrying a company’s logo or an inspirational message. Who said flooring had to be boring?
Staff and public safety, however, ought to remain the prime consideration when it comes to floor specification. This includes reducing accidents, as well as preventing microbe and infection spread. Sika ComfortFloor systems exhibit superb levels of slip-resistance, a vital property in public spaces, which attract visitors of all ages and physical ability. Its adeptness at withstanding invasive, corrosive substances also makes it ideal flooring for outlets involved in food and drink preparation, for example, where spillages are a regular occurrence in a busy, productive environment.
With the world a far more hygiene-critical place than it was just six months ago, the retail sector will be looking to meet the much higher sanitary standards being demanded of them. Social distancing is a major part of the solution to stemming the deadly virus’ spread, whilst stores installing the right materials throughout a building’s most heavily-trafficked areas – and ensuring robust cleaning regimes are regularly adhered to – also has as a crucial role in keeping interiors healthy and infection-free. It’s an enormously responsible task that can be made all the easier with the specification of Sika’s ComfortFloor.