Entrance flooring systems tend to be short-life components with high whole-life costs. Peter Mayer of Building LifePlans assesses options and costs for entrance matting
The basic function of an entrance flooring system is to reduce the quantity of soil and moisture carried into a building by footwear or wheeled items. By absorbing the dirt and damp that would otherwise cause wear and tear on a building's main floor finishes, entrance flooring systems are, in effect, sacrificial components with relatively short service lives.
The whole-life cost benefits of well-specified entrance flooring systems are:
- Reduced risk of slipping accidents and consequent compensation costs
- Increased life and reduced cleaning requirements for interior flooring, resulting in reduced through-life costs.
Specifiers are spoilt for choice with entrance matting types. However, specification guidance is limited. The British Standard for entrance flooring systems, BS 7953, is descriptive, and does not set out quantifiable criteria by which components can be specified or compared.
Technical data provided by manufacturers is variable, not always comparable and not always based on British or European Standards.
The most common specification options include:
Entrance matting These are generally for internal use. Material options include natural fibres such as cotton and more commonly coir, and synthetic fibres such as nylon, polypropylenes and carbon fibres. There is great variety of fibre configurations that enable dirt to be brushed off and moisture absorbed while allowing the mat to be easily cleaned. Qualities such as pile density, thickness, twist and construction may influence durability and ease of cleaning. PVC or rubber may also be specified in sheet or grid configuration for internal or external use.
Composite systems These typically comprise a grid or mesh with an integrated tread. Systems may be rollable to facilitate cleaning the underside.
The grid is usually made from stainless steel, brass or aluminium, which can be anodised for a more attractive finish. It helps scrape off soil, and gaps in the grid allow the this to drop below the surface. Grids may also be plastic and may be supplied as interlocking tiles.
The tread is laid in strips between the grid. Tread options include the same material options as for entrance matting. The grid may also have rubber or PVC backing for improved acoustic and wearing functions. The grids may be connected with stainless steel or galvanized steel wire or plastic interlocking strips.
Expected service lives
Performance in use can be very variable, depending on how well usage matches specification. Typical service lives are in the range of 3-10 years where the entrance flooring system matches the expected traffic.
Factors to take into account
- Number of daily crossings - extreme traffic may result in more than 5000 crossings a day.
- Location: internal or external; covered or open entrance.
- Identify the likely nature and quantity of soil, oil and moisture in the dirt to ensure the entrance system is effective in absorbing, drying and scraping it from shoes.
- Some functional requirements depend on location and use such as: fire resistance (BS 4790, EN 13501-1), thermal insulation, acoustic properties (BS EN 717), electrostatic propensity (ISO 6356, ASTM D149), ultraviolet light resistance (ISO 105 B02), dimensional stability (ISO 2551), load resistance, impact resistance, slip resistance (DIN 51132), wear resistance, anti-bacterial properties. The standards quoted usually refer to a range of classes for each characteristic. It is important to ensure the properties quantified are suitable for the purpose and material.
- Accessibility, to meet the requirements of barrier-free design BS 8300. Best practice would be to specify a detail with no change in level between threshold, entrance matting and internal flooring. Surfaces should be firm and slip resistant, so no deep-pile carpets or coir matting.
- Mats with backing should be specified where the underlying floor surface needs to be protected or acoustic performance is important.
- For heavy traffic, consider a system with zones of matting. Some makers recommend up to three zones with different areas of matting specified to remove soil, moisture and dust.
- Area available: the larger the better, ideally allow for six or more footfalls on the matting. Entrance flooring systems may be 6-10 m in length for effective operation.
Regular maintenance is essential to ensure continued performance of entrance mats.
Typical maintenance regimes comprise:
- Daily vacuum cleaning, soil removal
- Weekly water and detergent clean
- Periodic extraction cleaning.
Notes for table: Entrance flooring systems
- A discount rate of 3.5% is used to calculate net present values.
- Costs are based on entrance matting component only, no allowance has been made for mat wells or ramping.
- Costs include for replacement, cleaning and minor repairs.
- No assessment has been made of cost savings resulting from reduced cleaning requirements to other floor coverings.
- A cost analysis based on project specific information is essential for a realistic best value appraisal.
- Building LifePlans provides latent defects warranty for buildings. See their website (linked below) for more information.
- For building component durability information email email@example.com or telephone 020-7204 2441.