By John Gelm
You’ve heard time and again how curb appeal and the inside look and feel of a self-storage facility are subtleties that make customers feel safer and more secure about their choice of where to rent. For better or worse, flooring is a dominant feature of any room. Old or poorly maintained flooring makes an office feel drab, dated or dirty. New or revitalized floors drastically improve the character of a room.
This article discusses the topic of flooring for a self-storage facility’s office and manager residence. In particular, it will familiarize you with a new option that fits the needs of the typical storage site.
Although there are many flooring types, each with its own pros and cons, natural floors such as wood plank, granite, slate, marble or other types of natural stone finishes bring a richness to any office, immediately improving the class of the operation. The cons to these types of floors are expense, difficult maintenance, a time-consuming installation process, and a high cost to repair when damaged.
Traditional commercial sheet vinyl (linoleum) or vinyl composition tile offer more durability and are easier to maintain but make an office feel sterile and generic. Carpet offers almost unlimited color and pattern options but is the least durable and the most difficult to maintain. Nothing looks worse than a stained or dirty carpet.
What you may not know is how flooring technology has advanced in recent years from these traditional options. A new generation of floor covering has taken a hold, offering the look, texture and feel of natural materials. It’s easier and less disruptive to install, has longer durability, and requires less maintenance.
A New Choice
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is the fastest-growing floor technology. Manufacturers include Armstrong, Decoria, Mannington, Shaw and several imports. (Be careful of the imports, as some are much better than others.) Multiple design choices, colors and textures make for a look and feel that is almost indistinguishable from traditional natural materials and captures the essence of woods, stones, metals and more.
Do not confuse LVT with “peel and stick” or other types of do-it-yourself tiles or strip flooring found at your local mass merchant. It’s a new category of commercial flooring rated for heavy commercial use, and each piece is unique. The manufacturer takes photographs of the natural materials being replicated and transfers them to the tile. It then embosses each tile to match the appropriate texture. You should see no printing pattern or duplication, and the tile should be thick, approximately one-eighth of an inch. It’s also relatively stiff compared to sheet vinyl, with a noticeable knurled profile on the back, and requires a specific adhesive. It will never be pre-glued or self-adhesive.
LVT combines the best of design and technology in one product that’s more durable, requires less maintenance and is easier and less expensive to install. Natural stone and ceramic-tile floors have great design, architectural and sculptural qualities but can be expensive, hard to clean, and prone to damage in commercial environments. Here’s more about the benefits of LVT:
- It resists scuffs, stains, mold, scratches and wear. LVT has quickly become the choice to use in supermarkets, hospitals, hotels and other high-traffic, high-wear applications where the visual effect of a natural material is desired. You’ve probably walked on it and not even realized it was not the natural material itself.
- It features different installation options. You can use it with or without grout, or choose from grout color options for a limitless number of possibilities. Intricate or designer patterns can easily be accomplished.
- Maintenance is minimal. LVT requires no sealing, polishing, chemicals or special cleaners. To clean it, use only a neutral floor cleaner and water.
- Installation is simple. There are many good contractors who can do a professional installation, but because LVT is simple to install, self-storage operators can do it themselves. If you do use a professional, be sure he’s able to produce proof of insurance with a certificate of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
An attractive and cost-efficient floor is just one of many ways to keep your self-storage facility maintained with a professional look and improve customer satisfaction. When it’s time to replace flooring at your facility, weigh your options carefully. Consider durability, price and aesthetics before making a final decision.
John Gelm is the president of All From 1 Supply, an online retail store of building and maintenance supplies specifically for the self-storage industry. For more information, call 877.424.7181; visit www.allfrom1supply.com .