12 Best Flooring for High-Traffic Commercial Areas: A Quick Guide


Commercial and industrial areas often go through high amounts of traffic and activities and often, the floor gets beaten up pretty badly. Foot traffic, heavy equipment movement across the surface, splashes and spills from the kitchen, object dropping, chemical spills, and other multitudes of abuses can often be experienced by the floor. A good high-traffic commercial and industrial flooring should be durable enough to withstand these kinds of beating.

Some of the best flooring to use for high-traffic commercial areas include porcelain floors, concrete floors, natural stone floors, rubber floors, terrazzo floors, and vinyl floors. There are more floors you can use as well, each with different characteristics, and are included in the list below.

Durable commercial and industrial floors are best for spaces such as in schools, airport, retail and business spaces, hotels, entertainment facilities, offices, hospitals and other medical facilities, sports facilities, restaurants and bars, manufacturing plants, laboratories, and other spaces that involve high amounts of people, equipment or machinery.

Not all floors are made the same and each kind will perform differently in different situations. When deciding on the right floor to use, you should start by identifying the activities that will go on in the space or room where it will be installed. Ask yourself these kinds of questions: How heavy will the foot traffic be? Will there be heavy objects falling on the floor? Will there be possible liquid or chemical spills?

As you identify the activities, you’ll have a pretty good idea what kind of floor you need to look for. Below are the important characteristics you should be evaluating in a durable floor to be used for high-traffic commercial areas:

Durability – The floor should be able to withstand and last long under all possible sources of heavy wear and tear it will encounter. Causes of wear and tear include abrasions from foot traffic and movement of equipment, objects dropping, liquid and chemical spills, and others.

Ease of Maintenance – The floor should be fairly easy to clean and maintain. Cleaning or maintaining it should not have any significant effect on the operations of the space. This also goes hand in hand with durability; it will not be good for a floor needing constant maintenance because of breakage issues, and maintaining it can disrupt the operations of the space.

Cost Effective – A cost effective floor has a good balance between the initial cost to purchase and install it and the lifelong cost to maintain it. This will depend on your budget and long term plans. A floor with high upfront costs with low lifelong maintenance costs could be better than a cheap floor that will accumulate high maintenance costs in the future.

Beauty and Design – Depending on the space you’re installing the floor in, this may or may not be a priority. Areas such as hotel lobbies, reception areas, or retail spaces will have to be aesthetically pleasing to attract clients and visitors. On the other hand, back of the room areas such as storage spaces, kitchens, or workshops may prioritize functionality over aesthetics.

Below is a quick guide to the list of 12 best floors you can use for high-traffic commercial or industrial spaces. I’ll discuss more about them later in detail.

Floor MaterialAdvantagesDisadvantagesSpaces They’re Excellent ForSpaces To Avoid
1. Porcelain Tiles– easy to clean and requires little maintenance.

– waterproof and stain proof.

– chemical resistant to some degree.

– scratch proof.

– have non-slip options.

– one of the cheap floor options.

– aesthetically versatile and is available in a multitude of colors, styles, textures, and sizes.
– doesn’t offer cushioning; fragile objects that are dropped may break or shatter.

– may chip or break if a very heavy object drops on it.

– replacing a cracked tile can be a challenge.
– wet areas such as in commercial kitchens or public toilets or bathrooms.

– receptions and lobbies.

– office spaces.

– retail and business spaces.

– schools.

– restaurants and bars.

– food manufacturing spaces.
– high-impact gyms and other sports facilities.

– high-impact industrial spaces.
2. Quarry Tiles– cheaper than porcelain tiles.

– water and stain resistant to a certain degree.

– scratch proof.

– non-slip.
– doesn’t offer cushioning; fragile objects that are dropped may break or shatter.

– very limited color and design options.

– may chip or break if a very heavy object drops on it.

– replacing cracked tiles can be a challenge.
– commercial kitchens.

– back of the house areas such as storage spaces.

– retail and businesses with rustic design theme.

– food manufacturing spaces.
– high-impact gyms and other sports facilities.

– high-impact industrial spaces.
3. Natural Stone Flooring– elegant looking.

– will last a lifetime.

– very hard and durable.

– waterproof and stain resistant to a certain degree.

– scratch resistant.

– easy to clean and maintain
– high upfront cost.

– does not offer cushioning.

– polished stones can be a bit slippery.
– lobbies and reception areas.

– office spaces.

– high-end retail and business areas.

– restaurants and bars.
– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.

– high-impact gyms and other sports facilities.

– high-impact industrial spaces.

– commercial kitchens.
4. Vinyl Flooring– resilient.

– offers a bit of cushioning; fragile objects may not break easily when dropped.

– high scratch resistance

– waterproof and stain proof

– one of the cheap floor options.

– easy to install.

– very easy to clean and maintain.

– aesthetically versatile and is available in a multitude of colors, styles, textures, and sizes.
– can get dented from heavy objects.

– can get damaged from highly corrosive chemicals.

– office spaces.

– restaurant and bars.

– hospitals and other medical facilities.

– schools.

– transitional spaces such as hallways.

– low-impact sports areas such as dance, yoga, and martial arts facilities.
– high-impact gyms and other sports facilities.

– high-impact industrial spaces.

– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.
5. Engineered Bamboo Flooring– easy to clean and maintain.

– offers similar look to hardwood floors.

– high scratch resistance.

– high water and stain resistance.

– hard wearing for high foot traffic areas.
– susceptible to water damage.

– can get damaged from highly corrosive chemicals.
– retail and business areas.

– lobbies and reception areas.

– low-impact sports facilities such as dance, yoga, and martial arts studios.
– wet areas such as in commercial kitchens, and public toilet and bathrooms.

– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.

– high-impact industrial spaces.
6. Laminate Flooring– inexpensive alternative to real wood floors.

– high scratch resistance.

– high water and stain resistance.

– offers a bit of cushioning; fragile objects may not break easily when dropped.
– can be a bit slippery.

– susceptible to water damage.

– can get damaged from highly corrosive chemicals.

– can get dented from heavy objects.

– will wear faster than other floor options.
– retail and business areas.

– lobbies and reception areas.

– medical facilities.

– low-impact sports facilities such as dance, yoga, and martial arts studios.
– wet areas such as in commercial kitchens, and public toilet and bathrooms.

– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.

– high-impact industrial spaces.
7. Commercial Broadloom Carpets– can keep noise down.

– soft to walk on and offers high cushioning.

– colors and design can be customized.

– non-slip.
– needs frequent vacuuming and periodic deep cleaning.

– stains easily.

– not water resistant.

– can harbor dirt, dust, and allergens.

– torn or worn areas are hard to repair.

– can get damaged from highly corrosive chemicals.
– hotel lobbies.

– reception areas.

– offices.

– museums.

– theaters.
– wet areas such as in commercial kitchens, and public toilet and bathrooms.

– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.

– hospitals and medical facilities.

– high-impact industrial spaces.
8. Carpet Tiles– can keep noise down.

– soft to walk on and offers high cushioning.

– non-slip.

– easy to replace worn out tile.
– needs frequent vacuuming and periodic deep cleaning.

– stains easily.

– not water resistant.

– can harbor dirt, dust, and allergens.

– can get damaged from highly corrosive chemicals.
– hotel lobbies.

– office spaces.

– retail and business areas.

– museums.

– theaters.
– wet areas such as in commercial kitchens, and public toilet and bathrooms.

– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.

– hospitals and medical facilities.

– high-impact industrial spaces.
9. Rubber Flooring– sound absorbent; can keep noise level down.

– very resilient and can absorb impact from heavy objects that are dropped.

– soft to walk on.

– non-slip

– easy to clean and maintain.

– hard-wearing.

– waterproof and stain-proof.
– rubber smell can linger long after it is installed.

– limited design and finish options.

– can get damaged from highly corrosive chemicals.

– can be punctured by a sharp object.
– high-impact gyms and other sports facilities.

– hospitals and other medical facilities.
– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.
10. Terrazzo Flooring– can be elegant looking.

– aesthetically versatile; design can be customized.

– very hard and durable.

– hard-wearing.

– very easy to clean and maintain.

– waterproof and stain proof.

– high scratch and impact resistance.

– high chemical resistance.

– will last a lifetime.

– low lifetime costs.
– high upfront costs.

– hiring professional installers are needed to install it.

– doesn’t offer cushioning; fragile objects may break or shatter when dropped.
– hotel lobbies, and other reception areas.

– airports.

– schools.

– showrooms.

– shopping centers.

– hospitals.

– restaurants and bars.
11. Sealed Concrete Flooring– very easy to clean and maintain.

– very hard and durable.

– hard-wearing.

– waterproof and stain proof.

– high scratch and impact resistance.

– high chemical resistance.

– low lifetime costs.

– will last a lifetime.
– doesn’t offer cushioning; fragile objects may break or shatter when dropped.

– can stain with poor floor sealer.
– schools.

– commercial kitchens.

– high-impact industrial spaces.

– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.

– manufacturing facilities.

– retail and business spaces with industrial style design.
12. Epoxy Floor Coating System– hard-wearing.

– high chemical resistance.

– non-slip.

– very easy to clean and maintain.

– very hard and durable.

– will last a lifetime.

– low lifetime costs.

– design and look can be customized.
– doesn’t offer cushioning; fragile objects may break or shatter when dropped.

– needs a skilled professional installer to apply it.

– improper application may result in chipping, peeling, or cracking.

– can have a higher upfront costs depending on the quality of product used.
– spaces involving handling of highly corrosive chemicals such as in laboratories.

– manufacturing facilities.

– high-impact industrial spaces.

– commercial kitchens.

– retail and business spaces.

– schools.

– hospitals and other medical facilities.

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12 Best Flooring for High-Traffic Commercial and Industrial Areas

Below are the 12 of the best floors for high-traffic commercial and industrial areas discussed in more detail.

1. Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are made from a mixture of clay minerals and water. It is similar to ceramic tiles but are processed differently. They are baked at higher temperature and is made more denser and stronger than ceramic tiles.

It is one of the cheaper floor options you can use and has a wide range of colors, styles, and textures to choose from. They even have designs that mimic the look of wood or stone which makes them a good alternative to the real materials if you are have limited budget.

It is waterproof and stain proof making it also very easy to clean. You rarely need to deep clean it and if you do, it can handle a very wet mop without damaging it, unlike most wood floors. This makes them an ideal floor for wet areas such as in commercial kitchens or public toilets and baths.

It is a very durable floor and is virtually scratch-proof, making them an ideal floor for high-traffic areas such as in schools, and hospitals.

Unlike glazed ceramic tiles that are usually slick, porcelain tiles have non-slip options that has good traction even when they get wet.

Porcelain tiles are hard floors and fragile objects such as plates and glasses may break if it drops on it. They are also susceptible to chipping or breaking if a heavy object falls on it like a barbell or dumbbell, which makes them a bad floor to use in areas exposed to high-impact activities such as in gyms or some sports facilities.

Porcelain tiles can be difficult to install and you’ll usually need an experienced installer to install these for you. Damaged tiles or plank can also be a challenge to replace.

2. Quarry Tiles

Quarry tiles are made from red clay and are processed similarly to ceramic or porcelain tiles. They are made thicker and are usually unglazed. They usually come in a much lower price than porcelain tiles but is equally durable. They can stand up well to high-traffic as equally as porcelain tiles.

It is also water resistant and stain resistant to a certain degree. Because it’s made without any kind of coating, it can still develop stains if you leave any spills for a long time. It’s not always a bad thing, and it can add to its unique patina.

It has a very limited range of colors, and are usually on the red and brown shades. It is scratch proof and also non-slip. They are an ideal floor to use in commercial kitchens and back of the house areas such as in storage spaces or utility areas. They may also work well with retail and business spaces with rustic design themes

Similar to porcelain tiles, they can chip or break if a heavy object drops on it, which makes them a bad floor to use in spaces with high-impact activities such as in gyms or industrial spaces. Being a hard floor, it does not offer any cushioning if a fragile object falls on it.

Cleaning and maintaining them is similar to porcelain tiles and is fairly easy. Regular sweeping and damp mopping will keep it clean.

3. Natural Stone Flooring

Natural stones are elegant looking, very hard and durable, and will last a lifetime when maintained well. It has a higher upfront cost but lifetime costs for maintaining it are fairly low. Cleaning and maintaining it is also very easy.

For high-traffic areas, stick to the harder varieties such as granite, limestone, or sandstone. They are scratch-resistant and can hold up against heavy foot traffic. Some polished stones can be a bit slippery though but you can address this by applying a non-slip coating.

It is an ideal floor to use for areas that need a touch of elegance such as in hotel lobbies or reception areas. It can also be used in high-end restaurants and bars.

It can chip off from a high-impact activities and as such will not be an ideal floor to use in gyms or industrial spaces. Although it has some chemical resistance and will not easily get damaged, harsh chemicals can severely stain natural stones which is why it is also not recommended for spaces that handles corrosive chemicals.

4. Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or a type of hard flexible plastic. It is waterproof and stain-proof and has a very high scratch resistance ideal for areas exposed to heavy wear and tear. It is a resilient flooring which means it can absorb a heavy impact and can spring back to its original shape.

It’s still a hard floor but not as hard as porcelain tiles, it offers a little “give”. Fragile objects dropped on it may not break as easily as compared to if dropping them on porcelain tiles.

It is aesthetically versatile and is available in a multitude of colors, styles, and textures. They even have impressive wood and stone looking designs. It is available in sheets, tiles or planks. vinyl sheets are ideal to use in schools, hospitals, and other spaces that require fewer seams.

Being affordable and one of the cheap floor types, luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) and luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are a popular choice to use for retail and commercial areas. They’re also easy to install which helps make installation costs lower.

It can permanently dented from heavy objects and is not ideal to be used for spaces dealing with high-impact activities such as in gyms and industrial spaces.

They are ideal for office spaces, schools, hospitals, high traffic hallways,and low-impact sports areas such as dance and yoga studios.

5. Engineered Bamboo Flooring

Engineered bamboo flooring has a similar aesthetic and feel to hardwood floors. They are harder, denser, and more scratch-resistant to solid hardwood floors making them a good floor to use for high-traffic commercial applications.

Hardwood floors can easily scratch and may not last long in high-traffic situations. An engineered bamboo floor is the closest you can go for that can look and feel like hardwood floor but has a better scratch and wear resistance. It also has better water and stain resistance compared to hardwood floors.

It is susceptible to water damage and could swell if it gets submerged in water which is why it is not an ideal floor to use in wet areas such as in commercial kitchens. It also has little resistance to corrosive chemicals and can severely damaged if it gets exposed to some.

It is a good floor to use in retail and commercial businesses. It is also a good floor to use for lobbies and reception areas, low-impact sports facilities, museums, and other areas with high foot traffic.

6. Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is made of a plywood core and a melamine resin wear top layer over an image layer often mimicking the look of wood or stone. It is a durable and budget-friendly alternative to hardwood floors.

Its wear layer gives it a very high resistance to scratches, and stain, better than engineered bamboo floors. They can wear faster though and can’t be repaired if gets worn out.

Because of the plywood core, it is still susceptible to water damage. It can also be a bit slippery especially when it gets wet which is why it is not an ideal floor for wet areas such as in commercial kitchens, or public toilets and baths.

It is also not an ideal floor in spaces that deals with corrosive chemicals, which they can easily get damaged if it gets exposed to some.

They are however, a good floor to use in commercial retail and business spaces, lobbies and reception areas, medical facilities, and low-impact sports such as dance and yoga studios.

For high-traffic areas, it is recommended to use laminate floor products with thicker wear layers such as 12mm or 15mm thick.

7. Commercial Broadloom Carpets

Commercial broadloom carpets are of a stronger quality than what is used for wall-to-wall residential carpets. They last longer and their piles don’t easily wear out. They are soft floors that can hold up well against heavy wear and tear.

Commercial carpets are ideal for spaces that needs a quieter environment. It is soft and comfortable to walk on, and offers high cushioning. It is non-slip as well.

It is versatile in that the color, patterns, and design can be customized. Similar to natural stones, it can bring a feeling of elegance when used correctly. It is usually used in hotel lobbies, reception areas, offices, museums, and theaters.

They are however, the flooring option that requires the most maintenance. Since it harbors dirt, dust, and allergens, it needs frequent vacuuming. Deep cleaning thru carpet shampooing services will be needed periodically to keep it looking clean and new.

Since it is not water and stain resistant, it is not ideal to install them in wet areas such as in commercial kitchens and bathrooms. They are also not an ideal floor for laboratories as well as chemicals can damage them.

8. Carpet Tiles

Carpet tiles have similar qualities to commercial broadloom carpets. The difference is that, because they are in separate tiles rather than in rolls, it is much easier to repair or replace worn-out carpet tiles than to repair a broadloom carpet. It is often used in office spaces, lobbies, and reception areas.

9. Rubber Flooring

Rubber flooring is a very durable and resilient flooring that can absorb high-impact forces, such as dropped heavy objects. They are good sound absorbers and can be soft and comfortable to walk on.

They are slip-resistant and are perfect for high-traffic areas. They are usually the flooring choice for high-impact gyms or other sports facilities. They can also be an ideal floor to use in some hospital and medical facilities that need a durable and resilient flooring that offers good cushioning.

It is also waterproof and stain-proof. It is also very easy to clean and maintain. A quick sweep or mop is enough to keep it clean.

It can get damaged though from high corrosive chemicals which makes them a bad floor choice for laboratories or industrial spaces that handles chemicals.

Being a soft floor, it can be punctured by a sharp object.

It is not as versatile aesthetically as other floors and may offer a few options design-wise.

Rubber flooring, though easy to install and maintain, may off-gas and the rubber smell may linger for a few weeks after it has been installed.

10. Terrazzo Flooring

Terrazzo flooring is a composite material consisting of stone chips such as marble, quartz, granite, or glass, and mixed in a cement binder. It usually poured on site or installed as tiles. When it hardens, it becomes a hard-wearing and durable flooring that can stand up well to any type of beating.

It is waterproof, stain-proof, high scratch and impact resistance, and high chemical resistance. You can virtually use it for any high-traffic commercial or industrial applications. It will last a lifetime if maintained well.

Cleaning and maintenance is quite easy. Being a smooth floor, just a regular sweep and mop will do the job of keeping it clean.

Since it can be poured in place, it is very versatile design-wise. Colors and patterns can be customized to the needs of the design. It can have a look of elegance if designed well.

It does costs high initially but the lifetime costs to maintain it are very low.

It is a hard floor though and it may not be a good floor to use if you need a bit of cushion.

It is an ideal floor to use for heavy foot traffic areas such as in airports, schools, showrooms, shopping centers, and hospitals.

11. Sealed Concrete Flooring

Sealed concrete floors is another hard-wearing, high scratch and impact resistant, and high chemical resistant flooring. It is also waterproof, and stain-proof as well. It will need proper floor sealer though to keep it stain-proof though.

It is a fairly cheap floor option to use if you need a long-lasting, and hard-wearing floor.

It is usually used for industrial style and minimalist designs that offer a seamless clean look. It can be polished or textured. It can also be tinted, acid-stained, etched and stamped to give it a different look.

It will last a lifetime if you maintain it well.

You can use this for commercial kitchens, schools, high-impact industrial spaces, manufacturing facilities, and retail spaces with industrial style designs.

12. Epoxy Floor Coating System

Epoxy floor coating systems are a poured chemical coating, usually poured over concrete, that forms a smooth surface that is very hard and durable, highly chemical resistant, and hard-wearing.

It is usually used for commercial and industrial spaces that involves high-impact, high-abrasive, high-traffic activities. It can also be used in facilities handling highly corrosive chemicals as it can stand up well against most chemicals.

You do need to have a skilled professional to install this for you as an improper application may result in it chipping, peeling, or cracking.

It can also have a high upfront cost depending on the quality of product used, but the lifetime maintenance costs will be very low.

Angelo

He is an architect for more than 20 years. He is passionate about design and architecture and enjoys sharing his knowledge and information with people as well.

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