Know-How: Flooring/Carpeting

Administrators have many options for flooring in their school facilities. Carpeting, tile, resilient flooring, wood and concrete surfaces are commonly found in schools.

“Flooring should be durable to withstand heavy use without requiring frequent replacement, be easy to maintain, contain recycled content, be recyclable, contribute to a comfortable indoor environment, and not adversely affect human health,” says the U.S. Department of Energy's National Best Practices Manual for Building High Performance Schools.

The manual states that to maintain indoor air quality, schools should select flooring that is made with water-based coatings and adhesives; is nontoxic and non-polluting during installation and use; is resistant to moisture or inhibit the growth of biological contaminants; and is easy to clean with non-polluting maintenance products.

Classrooms and administrative areas are the most common school spaces with carpeting, the manual notes. Areas of a school where noise is a problem also can benefit from installing carpeting.

The Carpet & Rug Institute says that densely tufted, tight-loop construction works best in a school. Dark colors are easier to maintain and keep clean.

Other areas of a school typically will have a hard floor surface, such as tile, resilient flooring, concrete or wood.

Resilient flooring is most suitable for high-traffic areas or where liquid spills are likely, the best practices manual says. Ceramic tile and terrazzo are found in areas that require high durability and low maintenance, but don't need the acoustic benefits of carpet.

Concrete flooring also is suitable for high-traffic areas, such as hallways, cafeterias and gathering areas. Wood flooring is typically specified only for areas where its performance characteristics make it desirable: gymnasiums, stages and dance studios.


NOTABLE

81

Percentage of teachers surveyed who believe having a quiet classroom environment with good acoustics makes a strong impact on learning.

32

Percentage of teachers surveyed who believe attractive colors, textures and patterns on classroom floors and walls make a strong impact on learning.

43

Percentage of teachers who say their classrooms are carpeted.

33

Percentage of teachers who say that carpeting would be inappropriate for their classrooms.

Source: National Survey Of Public School Teachers, March 2001, conducted by Beth Schapiro & Associates for The Carpet And Rug Institute and The International Interior Design Association Foundation. The survey is based on responses from a nationwide sample of 1,050 public school teachers.

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