School is hard enough for kids—there are bullies, relationship drama, pop quizzes—but we can try to make school a little more comfortable for them with our flooring choices. From the color to the comfortability of the floor underfoot, the decision between different types of floors can help create a more welcoming atmosphere that makes their educational experience slightly less traumatizing.
There are many different types of flooring used in schools, but a few stand out as the most comfortable, durable, and realistic options. Keep in mind that there are different considerations for different rooms in the school. You may need different types of floors in the cafeteria, hallway, classroom, library, theater, and gym.
Vinyl flooring is a good choice for classrooms. While vinyl can be scratched over time, especially with regular movement of heavy furniture like cafeteria tables, it is a solid choice for rooms where furniture is not moved as often, like the classroom. Vinyl flooring doesn’t possess the noise-canceling qualities of other flooring options, though, so you may want to consider adding an underlayment to save your ears.
Available in sheets or tiles, vinyl flooring can mimic both wood and stone looks. Sheet vinyl is typically more water-resistant (unless you’re considering investing in luxury vinyl) because there are fewer seams for water to seep into, unlike vinyl tiles. The benefit of vinyl tile is that individual tiles can be easily replaced if damaged or dented. If you’re considering vinyl for a classroom, consider how much water exposure it’s going to get. If there will be kids’ volcano science experiments bubbling over onto the floor, or watercolor paintings dripping on it, vinyl sheets may be a better option.
While many schools turn to hard surface flooring because of ease of maintenance, carpet is also a great option for classrooms. It is soft underfoot and hides dirt well if you choose the right color –plus it can be non-slip if installed correctly.
When choosing between hard floors and carpeting, consider the ages of the children using the rooms. For kiddos who have naptime and storytime worked into their busy school schedules, the room should have a carpet or rug. A cozy area is a necessity for small children’s classrooms, and an area rug is a great way to do that. Area rugs can be added on top of hard floors or even on top of a thinner, low-pile wall-to-wall or modular carpet.
For tweens, teens, and “young adults” (Who knows what they want to be called these days?), carpeting isn’t as important, as they, most likely, will not be napping on the floor quite as often. But you should still consider the comfort of the room based on the colors and textures of the floor. Beige, sterile tile may hide dirt well and be easy to clean, but it may make school feel like a hospital or prison—not exactly a comfortable environment.
In terms of design, it’s all about balance. Fun patterns and colors can inspire creativity, but if the flooring is too interesting to look at, it may be distracting to students.