August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5
By Mike Pigeon
The flooring industry over the last few years has seen a large demand for a wider variety of wall base options in certain marketplaces. With the growing selection of resilient, carpet, wood and tile offerings, architects and designers are requiring a more appealing finish to a completed flooring installation. The institutionalized look of the standard 4-inch rubber or vinyl base was just not cutting it. So what did the flooring industry do? We acknowledged and embraced the challenge with the introduction of profiled bases.
Now this is not a new product category by any means as it has been available for some years now. However, the popularity of wall base is increasing exponentially, especially in healthcare, hospitality, senior living and corporate buildings. The wide variety of profiles adds a special touch and finish to complete and even accent the floors. Advancement in manufacturing technology opened the door for the production of some really unique interior finishes, including unique options to transition from the floors to the walls.
One of the best places to see this trend is in the hotel industry, where taller bases with creative profiles options are being paired to match popular wood looks. With wood being susceptible to denting and scratching, the need for repainting has really changed the mindset of the A&D community when it comes to a more resilient option. Most of these products are made in the U.S.A. and meet FloorScore, NSF 332 Gold and CHPS criteria. Some manufacturers have options for PVC-free, Phthalate-free and even Red list chemical-free products to increase the appeal to the design community.
The options for profiles are numerous. Some just need a simple profile at 3 inches, whereas the more elaborate designs can be as high as 8 inches. I’ve seen even higher profiles at hotels in Las Vegas that look like they were closer to the 10-inch mark with a very attractive profiled face. Some options will even come with a matching color chair rail and corner guards for protection from the service carts. Again, most of these products are co-extruded.
Some of the other benefits of purchasing profiled bases through flooring manufactures are the color options. The wide variety of color palettes is a huge benefit when looking for accent colors to match the flooring product. The options normally include the ability for a custom color to match other interior finishes if needed. Send in a paint chip or a piece of fabric and suppliers can often make it work. The options truly are endless.
Coming from an installation background, I want to address a few items on this topic that are very important, especially after the material has been specified and is ready to install.
Installation is not for the average base installer. The mindset of the technician needs to be more of a finish carpenter’s frame of mind. Production is going to be slower than with regular base, although it does pick up as the installation proceeds. In addition, tools and equipment are going to be completely different. All of this needs to be discussed before the installers are sent to the jobsite. A conversation with the general contractor ahead of time to set expectations for wall conditions usually saves hassles in the long run. The more proactive the installer and flooring contractor are on the front side, the better the installation ends up on the back side. Punch lists and callbacks always affect the bottom line along with reputations.
Mike Pigeon, CIM, is a technical installation specialist with Roppe Holding Co. He has extensive background in flooring installation and currently serves on the Certified Installation Manager Task Force.