Room by Room: Enhancing Every Space with Flooring and Coating


By Nate Wolff, Sherwin-Williams; Brenda Knowles, Shaw Industries

Design builds communities by creating spaces that draw people together, infusing comfort and connection into every detail. This includes flooring and coatings, a combination of elements that makes a big impact on how people perceive a space — whether calm and soothing or vibrant and energetic.

It is important to look for products that can stand up to the levels of wear floor surfaces undergo. Specifying the latest technologies will reduce the need for touch-ups, repainting or flooring replacement, as well as ensure that a building looks great for years to come. Here are some other important features professionals should look for when selecting coatings and flooring for every space in a commercial building, from high-traffic hotel lobbies to employee breakrooms. 

Lobbies and Common Areas

Commercial buildings have many different areas, but the lobby and common spaces are typically the first places a visitor will notice. These areas should be welcoming and impactful while still being functional.

Professionals can leverage the capabilities of flooring and coatings in these areas and craft a specific design aesthetic that will set the tone for the entire building. For instance, consider using color in unexpected ways to draw attention to specific zones. This will help visitors navigate the space easily and increase visual interest without adding significant costs to the project.


For coating attributes, professionals should look for durable paints with high washability and hide, while for maintenance, they can use a stain-blocking paint and primer in one coating to help block against common stains such as grease, grime, food and cigarette smoke.

A seamless look can be created by choosing a hard surface product with a 5mm construction, which allows for installation alongside carpet without the need for transition strips. Today’s carpet-tile styles offer various colors and innovative looks. Stunning and resilient luxury vinyl tile (LVT) includes realistic hardwood and stone visuals. These floor coverings offer various dimensions and graphics inspired by biophilic design trends, bringing the outdoors in to create a sense of calm and well-being. 

Breakrooms and Cafeterias

Breakrooms and cafeterias often become the go-to hub for social gatherings. This means higher levels of traffic and increased wear on materials.

To ensure maintenance and a uniform appearance, select a higher-gloss finish or a technically advanced washable flat, which allows for frequent cleaning. Choose coatings that resist food stains and high moisture levels and wash easily. Also, consider a coating with odor-eliminating technology to help reduce ambient odors of organic origin or lingering odors from cooking, smoke and pets.

Choose waterproof, resilient flooring for a cost-effective, attractive solution in areas prone to spills and accidents. Use a luxury vinyl plank (LVP) to create a hardwood look that will flow seamlessly between spaces. A variety of vibrant and muted shades in carpet tile and hard surfaces can aid in navigating spaces and support open environments while creating a sense of functionality across spaces. For durability, look for a product with a high wear layer and psi.

Bathrooms, Spas and Gyms

Water and mildew resistance are key attributes when specifying for a bathroom or wellness area. Whether it’s a gym for college students or an oasis for guests at a boutique hotel spa, the space can remain in top condition by selecting durable products that stand the test of time.

Consider a waterproof LVT for floors. Its durability and protection against water are needed, and its natural stone and hardwood visuals can be coordinated with other elements of the overall design scheme. Plus, LVT can be installed five times faster than traditional ceramic.

As for walls, pick a coating that provides high levels of resistance against water-spotting or moisture. A paint formulated with antimicrobial agents will inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on paint and prevent the growth of bacterial odors. Applying the right product in these spaces will also allow for fewer repaints and quicker service.

Patient Rooms, Offices and Classrooms

People should feel at ease in the spaces where they spend the most time, and with the right products and specifications, designers can create a beautiful and comfortable refuge that helps visitors focus and relax.

Improving air quality is becoming a main priority for people everywhere. This can be achieved by specifying a coating with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or any product that has achieved GreenGuard Gold Certification, meaning the product is certified to GreenGuard standards for low chemical emissions into indoor air during product usage. (For more information, visit ul.com/gg).

Another innovation is formaldehyde-reducing technology. This promotes better indoor air quality by reducing airborne concentrations of formaldehyde and other aldehydes. It also helps reduce levels of VOCs from potential sources such as insulation, cabinets, fabrics and other building materials.

Modular flooring — whether carpet tile or LVT — continues to grow in popularity throughout commercial environments because of the ease of installation and maintenance and the ability to create a wide range of designs to support navigability, corporate branding and other aesthetic priorities. Innovations that provide creative options at relatively low cost, such as the lightweight carpet tile, can be used in markets with tight budgets.

Selecting a single-source flooring provider can help ensure that the products coordinate effortlessly and optimize the design. When selecting the ideal flooring for your space, look for third-party certifications that align with your sustainability objectives — including Cradle to Cradle Certified, FloorScore and CRI Green Label Plus as well as GreenGuard Gold.

Paint and flooring technologies keep improving each year, particularly in the solutions provided for commercial buildings. Selecting the right products can have a significant effect on visitors’ satisfaction and the durability of a space, as well as on long-term savings in cost and labor.

To learn more, visit patcraft.com or shawcontract.com and sherwin-williams.com/painting-contractors.

Claims or positions expressed by sponsoring authors do not necessarily reflect the views of TPC, PaintSquare or its editors.

Nate Wolff, Sherwin-Williams; Brenda Knowles, Shaw Industries

Nate Wolff is director of marketing, commercial markets at Sherwin-Williams, and Brenda Knowles is vice president of commercial marketing and product development at Shaw Industries.