Getting your property covered

Floors in social and privated rented homes must meet a wide range of needs. Peter Kelsey of Designer Contracts advises on specifying safe and durable floor coverings.

Before purchasing a floor covering for a rented property, specifiers should first consider the type of property, and look into the specific needs of the occupants. In short, it is important to establish who the user is, as opposed to simply knowing what the product is used for.

Supplying floor coverings that are technically appropriate and within budget is key in ensuring a safe and inclusive environment within any property, be it in social or private rented home. It goes without saying that choosing a reliable contractor is vital to the success of an installation.

So, in selecting a contractor, opt for a company able to offer a wide selection of affordable – yet durable – floor coverings to suit the nature of the building. There are a number of specialist manufacturers of flooring solutions on the market which will stand the test of time.

Making the right choice

Careful planning and consideration should be taken before any flooring selection is made, particularly where it needs to adhere to strict requirements. Ideally, the chosen flooring has to be hardwearing, hygienic and stain-resistant.

Flooring that can be easily cleaned is essential for a busy care home for example. Practical options and slip-resistant vinyls should be considered for any wet areas. Where appropriate, the product should be suitable for occupants with bare feet and in cases where social care workers are involved, as they are likely to wear shoes when assisting occupants in and around wet areas.

Carpet still remains a staple flooring option, with beige once being the colour of choice, now greys are the most popular selection for new build rented properties, where it sits comfortably with modern interiors.

The advanced manufacturing techniques used for vinyl tiles and laminates make it difficult to tell the difference between these and the real thing, yet they’re much easier to maintain. Many ranges also meet health and safety guidelines for installations that require additional criteria to be met.

In high traffic areas, such as hallways and kitchens, luxury vinyl tiles and fashionable laminates continue to grow in popularity as a practical alternative to real wood, stone or ceramic tiles. Their hardwearing nature also makes them a popular choice for the rental market catering for families with young children and pets.

Challenges and regulations

Individual rooms and apartments should be approached in a completely different way. Noise disturbance in some properties can be a real problem if the room above hasn’t had suitable flooring fitted. Softer flooring and underlay options should be considered, able to save a great deal of hassle in the long run. High traffic entrance areas will require a thicker wear layer and surface protection to increase the longevity of the product.

There are regulations and requirements that should be considered when selecting flooring products. R10 is the German DIN Standard slip resistant test (ramp test), which is the accepted test method for Europe, however in the UK HSE guidelines prefer the Pendulum Test, providing a classification of 36+ when dry, wet and contaminated. So if a floor is going to be prone to product spillage – shampoo, shower gel or general bathroom related products – it will need a low potential for slip (>36 ) with a surface roughness of >20 microns as outlined in BS7976-2.

Ease of installation is incredibly important. Time is money, so contractors should be able to replace and install flooring to tight deadlines. As well as new properties, some older care homes and rental properties have to be upgraded to comply with modern needs and changes in regulations.

Having access to the most up to date products and being aware of new and innovative products, often in advance of them being introduced to the industry, is important for any contractor working with those managing or maintaining social and rented properties.

It’s also important to build a trusted relationship with any property owner, so picking up the keys and completing the work as soon as possible mean a swift and efficient turnaround with fewer disturbances for residents.