Room With a View
by Larry Mundy
July 2006


Hotel Floor Surfaces - Hard or Soft?


 
The lodging business was a lot simpler when we weren’t expected to have floors.  Just erect a little hut over a flat piece of earth, scatter some straw inside, and you were in business.  Then came wood and concrete, and colorful fired tiles brought from exotic lands by great wooden three-masters.  At the peak of human civilization (August 24, 1962), really upscale hotels had marble lobby floors.  Then some chemists at DuPont had too many martinis for lunch, and modern hotel flooring materials were born.

Your initial flooring decision is simple – should it be a hard or soft surface?  Areas subject to high traffic or spillage (kitchens, back-of-house, the 3 square feet under the dripping icemaker on 7) cry out for hard, easy-clean surfaces.  More refined areas like guestrooms and boardrooms require soft, plush carpeting.  Lobbies and restaurant seating areas can go either way, depending on the look and feel you’re after and how many of your guests wear those irritating clicky-sounding shoes.

But that’s the last easy decision you have.  Once you’ve decided on a hard surface, should it be tile that looks like marble, plastic that looks like wood, or vinyl that looks like cobblestones?  Should it have a flat, matte finish that absorbs dirt and oil, or a hard, shiny surface that attracts slip-and-fall claims?  Should it be able to withstand the weight of a locomotive, or the much greater stress of a 90-pound woman in stiletto heels?  Should it be glued to the subfloor, making later removal a job for a road grader, or “loose-laid” so it will curl at the edges and relocate itself periodically?

Those are easy topics compared to carpet selection.  Real wool carpeting is now priced by the square inch, so many hotels select a synthetic carpet for durability and cost-effectiveness.  “Synthetic” is a catchphrase for “made from discarded soda bottles and other compounds not found in nature,” and means that millions of non-biodegradable yards of the stuff will be puzzled over by future anthropologists, who themselves will resemble giant cockroaches long after we’re gone.  “This appears to have been a highly developed civilization, which ritually ground lipstick into their floor coverings.”  Our future electricity needs will be satisfied by harnessing the static electricity of a rubber-soled convention crowd shuffling along a nylon-carpeted hallway, then touching special metallic power receptors.

The big problem with carpet is that it cannot be mopped, at least not with enviable results.  Properly cleaning fine carpet requires a huge “extraction machine” whose noise will wake the dead, or at least the hung-over guy in 306.  Many synthetics can be cleaned with a mixture of pool acid and liquid bleach, but these also require extraction or they will dissolve guests’ shoes.

Special rules apply to floor surfaces which are exposed to moisture, like the entryway, pool deck, and the room below the leaky commode.  These require high-traction surfaces, the polar opposite of smooth marble or cheap toilet paper.  Such surfaces are best maintained by ignoring them, because the same properties which keep guests from slipping, also make cleaning impossible.

Don’t get me started on patterns and colors.  I recommend a drab, neutral color which does not attract attention.  At home, I rarely reflect on how dirty my flooring is, because I never look at it unless I drop something.  It takes an audible and tactile “crunchiness” to alert me to its sorry state.

Just remember that the bright, swirly pattern that looks so good on the sample board can induce seasickness when spread over a broad area.  Fast-food restaurants have pioneered carpet designs so multicolored and “busy” they can disguise a whole day’s worth of dropped food, wadded wrappers and abandoned infants.  If your pay-movie sales are down, perhaps your guests are turning off the TV and watching the carpet instead.



Larry Mundy works for a hotel company in Dallas.  His views are his own, and may differ considerably from those of a sane person."
 
Contact:

Larry Mundy
LJM2804@yahoo.com

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Also See: Hotel Bathroom Origami - That Tiny Detail of Carefully Triangulated Toilet Paper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
A Chain, a System, a Franchise, a Collection, a Group, a Brand... / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Forensic Hotel Housekeeper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Exercise Room in Your Hotel - Sweating the Details / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Remembering the old-time Hotel Engineering Department / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Curse of the Hotel Lobby-Dwellers / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
What Do You Do With an Old Hotel? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Hotel Smokers: A Dying Breed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May  2006
The New Food & Beverage – Food “Just Like Home”  / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Guest Privacy – It’s Not Just a Door Tag Anymore / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
The Future of Hotel Reservations / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Soon Every Town in America Will Have an Unused Convention Center / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Hotel Pool Safety 101 / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Where Not To Build a Hotel / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
“Exterior Corridors” – Disappearing, Because They Never Existed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy
My Top Ten Worst Hotel Inventions / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
Bed Tech / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
A Sense of Arrival / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006



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