Get A Grip On Rubber Flooring

Landfills full of used tires are becoming a thing of the past. Now, manufacturers and recyclers are finding a number of uses for discarded tires, such as horse stall and trailer mats, flooring in pet centers, backpacks, purses, wallets and much more. In fact, what is evolving as one of the most successful reuses of old tires is right under our feet. Rubber flooring, especially in heavy-use public facilities, such as those for park and recreation, is growing in momentum and popularity.

Although manufacturers are invariably changing how tires are made and what chemicals and ingredients are used, for the most part tires contain approximately 65 percent rubber, 10 percent fiber and 25 percent steel by weight. Once quite difficult to recycle, tires can now be reused for many purposes through a grinding, shredding, magnetic-separating, screening and sorting process.

Rubber–often referred to as protective flooring due to its considerable durability–was used for flooring long before the popularity of recycling tires took hold. However, it was rarely a manager’s first choice. Sure, it was durable and fairly easy to maintain. But because of its utilitarian look and a lack of design innovations and ingenuity, rubber flooring was often “back-of-the-house” flooring, used for back staircases, warehouses, docks and industrial areas.

Now, however, several traditional and relatively new flooring manufacturers are producing rubber flooring, using new textures, designs and colors. Instead of its being hidden away in the back areas of a facility, today many schools, office buildings, retailers, hospitals, park and recreation centers and others are installing rubber flooring, finding it attractive as well as environmentally responsible.

Benefits Of Rubber

Before delving into the benefits of rubber flooring, let’s first address some cost issues. When compared to some other floor coverings, such as vinyl composite tile (VCT), one of the least expensive floors, rubber flooring is an expensive alternative. Other types of hard-surface floors as well as commercial-grade carpeting also may be less expensive.

However, when it comes to price, rubber flooring is viewed as a “value solution.” There are few floors that can last as long as rubber, or are as durable. Further, when compared to carpet, VCT and other hard-surface floors, maintenance requirements of rubber flooring are minimal. Rarely will rubber flooring appear soiled like carpet; and although a finish can be applied to rubber floors, most are left in their “natural” state. Often, only vacuuming and damp mopping with a neutral cleaner are required to keep them clean.

Some of the other key benefits include:

· Safety–Rubber has a natural slip resistance, and many rubber floors are designed with “studs,” or risers, that help minimize the possibity of slips or falls, even when wet.

· Flexible design–Once available only in black, one manufacturer now produces rubber flooring in 30 colors, and colors can be “transitioned,” fading from one color to another, to add unique interest and design flexibility.

· Reduced life-cycle costs–Several studies indicate rubber is one of the most cost-efficient flooring selections.

· LEED certification–Using recycled, post-consumer materials, such as vehicle tires in construction or retrofits, can help facilities earn points toward LEED certification.

Maintenance Issues

Although rubber flooring tends to be relatively easy to maintain, facility managers need to be aware of certain issues and concerns to ensure the long-term satisfaction and appearance of their rubber floors. First and foremost, follow the manufacturer’s instructions as to proper care and maintenance.

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