How to Select Sustainable Commercial Flooring

When it comes to selecting a commercial flooring system, there are many factors to consider beyond just aesthetics and durability. In recent years, sustainability has become an increasingly important factor in the decision-making process for many businesses and communities. The selection of a commercial floor for your installation or remodel doesn’t need to be complex when you take into account these factors to reduce your impact on the environment. 

Entrance to a commercial kitchen with Jetrock epoxy flooring installed over quarry tile

Feature Flooring installed JetRock Epoxy flooring in a commercial kitchen over existing quarry tile.

What Are the Most Sustainable Commercial Flooring Types?

Hardwoods like bamboo and cork flooring can be very environmentally friendly, but they are not always the best option in commercial settings that need to withstand moisture, high temperatures, and continuous foot traffic. Typically, hard-surface flooring materials like resinous epoxy flooring are non-absorptive, chemical resistant, and seamless. They are also the most sustainable flooring options that can accommodate intense cleaning for hygienic or safety reasons.

Linoleum: Linoleum is made from natural materials like cork dust, wood flour, linseed oil, and rosin—making it a sustainable choice for commercial flooring. While it is easy to clean or maintain, it is susceptible to high traffic or moisture damage. Excessive humidity or temperature change can also cause corners to curl and require frequent repair.

Rubber: Rubber flooring made from recycled tires, can make it a sustainable choice for commercial spaces. It’s also slip-resistant and very comfortable underfoot—perfect for high-traffic areas like schools and hospitals. The main drawback of this flooring is seams can let water through to the subfloor causing damage or mold build-up.

Broadcast: Broadcast flooring systems are made from recycled materials that are broadcasted into the floor – making it a sustainable solution. The flooring typically includes recycled material, paint chips, glass, or quartz.

Vinyl: Vinyl flooring tiles (VCT or LVT) is often offered as a sustainable option for commercial buildings since the manufacturing process has a relatively low carbon footprint. Installation requires an immaculate subfloor so that it doesn’t crack after installation. If you’re looking for a durable vinyl floor it may require adhesives that are not eco-friendly to ensure a long lifespan and durability under traffic or heavy use. 

Urethane Concrete: Urethane concrete flooring systems are very sustainable (if installed correctly) and can last for decades without fading, cracking, or being in need of a replacement. Also, most concrete floors are made of recycled materials including marble or quartz chips, metal shavings, and crushed glass. The most economical feature is concrete’s ability to retain heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer. This also reduces the impact on the environment by lowering or raising the temperature of the room without using a powered heat furnace or AC unit.

Epoxy: Seamless flooring systems, like JetRock, offer all of the sustainable benefits of rubber flooring and urethane cement with none of the drawbacks. One of the largest benefits that is typically forgotten is the ability of Jetrock to be applied directly over existing quarry tile floors without having to rip up and dispose of old floors which reduces debris in landfills. JetRock also has a reflective finish to help better reflect natural light through windows to warm and light your areas.

Top Considerations for Sustainable Flooring

We know you’re juggling many requirements for your flooring project while balancing your top environmental needs. We’ve compiled answers to the top questions our clients ask us when they are selecting sustainable JetRock epoxy flooring for their commercial space.

Is epoxy flooring non-toxic and safe?

Not all epoxy flooring is environmentally friendly – There are a couple of product lines that don’t release the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the curing period. These VOCs can cause a variety of health effects including nose, eye, and throat irritations. Also if the toxic fumes are inhaled directly they could be the source of headaches, and loss of coordination, nausea, even damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system. 

How long will epoxy flooring last?

An epoxy floor will last as long as you keep up with the maintenance and cleaning methods. Epoxy floors can fail where heavy foot traffic occurs, solvents break down the layers of epoxy, or an action happens that damages the floor. Typically you will see a broadcast epoxy flooring system last 3-5 years.  A more robust system such as JetRock can last upward to 10 years if cared for correctly.

How much flooring demolition is required for remodels?

If you’re looking for sustainability, removing an old quarry tile floor and replacing it with a modern flooring system is one of the best things you can do. However, not a lot of systems have the ability to go over your old floor. So the demo team will typically demo your old floor out leaving you with a concrete sub-floor. This process is very unsustainable, adding tons of old quarry tile to landfills to sit for decades and never decompose. 

One of the main benefits that a nonporous epoxy floor like JetRock offers is that it can be applied over existing floors like quarry tile or other subflooring. The best way to avoid quarry tile in landfills and save energy used to transport debris is to apply an epoxy floor overtop.

Before and After Epoxy installed by Feature Flooring

Before and after pictures of tile floor (before) and nonporous epoxy (after) in a commercial space

Major restoration project with seamless JetRock epoxy flooring installed.

Before and after pictures of a damaged tile floor that was sanded down (before) and then overlaid with JetRock epoxy flooring (after)

Damaged quarry tiles can be sanded down before applying JetRock epoxy flooring.

What are the negative environmental impacts of maintaining flooring?

In addition to increasing landfills with quarry tiles that do not decompose, other negative impacts on the environment are related to the maintenance of floors. Oftentimes there are commercial floors that can only come clean through the use of hazardous chemicals. This is especially true when bacteria grows in seams or grout lines. With mopping the floor the bacteria has a chance to grow and spread through the kitchen. You may use more water to clean a seamless floor, but the amount of chemicals needed to keep it clean is far less.

What flooring system is best for a sustainable restaurant?

There are many options to pick from and it depends on your individual situation at your location, but for new construction and no timetable to open, urethane concrete is your best sustainable floor. For a remodel, where you want to open the next day JetRock epoxy is your most sustainable flooring system.

Consult with a Flooring Professional

Looking to install a new or replacement commercial floor that is eco-friendly and sustainable? Let’s connect soon to discuss your specific needs. If your project is following US Green Building Council guidelines, ask your consultant about how to ensure your project qualifies for LEED Certified credits too.

We can design a solution that meets your environmental considerations as well as your safety and durability requirements.

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