The renovation game

The renovation game

How facilities managers can make the most of a floor renovation

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” This quote resonates in many circumstances, particularly in construction. Failing to prepare for a floor renovation can be costly and facilities managers should consider how careful planning can make a renovation go smoothly. Here, Connie Johnson, vice president of marketing at surface preparation equipment manufacturer National Flooring Equipment, explains how facilities managers can best plan for a floor renovation.

There are many reasons to renovate a building. An older facility might need renovating so that it is safe to work in or a commercial building might need to change its aesthetics to attract more customers. No matter the objective, facilities managers should think about how changing the floor can improve the facility.

Flooring is often an afterthought during a renovation, but it can make an impact on staff and customers in a facility. A poorly maintained floor can have breaks or bubbles that can increase the risk of slips and trips, one of the main causes for sick days. For example, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) predicts that slip and trip accidents cost employers over £500 million a year in sick days, injury claims and production delays.

Choosing the right floor covering can increase safety but also impact the aesthetics and functionality of a building. For example, warehouse workers will struggle to manoeuvre packages and equipment in a carpeted factory. However, they can easily work on a polished concrete floor and the reflective floor can also reduce the need for as much artificial light, increasing energy efficiency.

After deciding on the objective of the renovation and understanding what the new floor covering will look like afterwards, facilities managers can start to plan the renovation.

Finding the right contractor

Facilities managers will work closely with contractors during a renovation, so it is important to choose someone that can complete the work to the desired specifications. Working with a contractor with the right equipment, tooling and expertise can improve productivity on the jobsite and achieve the desired final floor.

A good contractor will have access to a range of equipment that can take up an old floor quickly and efficiently. For example, a larger building requires a larger machine to get the work done and different floor coverings require different tooling. Facilities managers should work with a contractor that takes the time to understand what equipment is needed to complete work efficiently.

Communicating with the contractor early in the renovation ensures that they can bring everything they need to the facility. The contractor should also be able to visit the site before the renovation so that they can plan efficiently, and facilities managers should also let contractors know the timeline of the work so that they are productive when on site. For example, surface preparation should be completed later in the renovation. If the floor is done first, it may cause problems when electricians come to wire the house. Even something minor like wet paint spatter from the walls can impact the quality of the floor finish.

Machine power

Understanding the available power sources in the building will also be important for contractors. The availability of single or three phase power will determine what equipment the contractor can bring. If the job requires a larger machine, but the facility only has single phase power, contractors may need to bring three phase generators to complete the work efficiently.

Facilities managers should also prepare the building for the contractor and the machines that will be used to ensure the whole floor is properly prepped. All equipment should either be removed from the worksite or covered to prevent any damage. Making the contractor aware of any equipment or furniture can help them better prepare.

Managing the renovation

Sufficiently planning for a renovation can help to reduce disruption of day-to-day activities. Before work begins, facilities managers should decide how much of the building needs to close during renovation. Is it easier and safer to close the whole facility for a shorter time period or close smaller areas of the facility and let employees or customers around the rest of the building?

Factors such as health and safety and the difficulty of the job will help facilities managers to decide how much of the facility to close. By communicating with the contractor, they can understand how surface preparation could impact anyone in the facility. For example, shot blasting or cutting concrete releases silica dust into the air. If anyone inhales a large amount of silica, employees or customers can contract silicosis, a potentially dangerous lung condition.

Facilities managers should ensure that the contractor takes precautions to mitigate silica dust inhalation. Most surface preparation equipment attaches to dust collectors that remove a large amount of dust in the atmosphere. Ensuring that a contractor brings dust collection equipment can keep construction workers and employees safe while on the job site.

Great expectations

From conception to completion, facilities managers and contractors need to manage one another’s expectations. Once the work has started, it is important for facilities managers to contact the contractor daily. This way, they can understand each stage of the work and ensure that it is going well.

Facilities managers need to know what the desired finish of the floor should be before the job starts and communicate that to the contractor. Once both the contractor and manager understand the expected finish, they must work together to reach this and understand how long it will take.

Facilities managers should allow contractors to take the time necessary to complete effective surface preparation. If a floor renovation is rushed and done incorrectly the covering may not bond to the substrate, causing loose flooring or bubbling, that is both visually unappealing and can be a safety hazard. Fixing any problems caused by rushing will increase costs and delay completion of the whole renovation, so allowing the contractor to take longer and do it correctly first time is crucial. 

Future maintenance

Considering how to keep the new floor in good condition from the outset can extend the lifespan of the flooring. The contractor can suggest if there are any coatings that can be put under or over the floor to prevent extended damage. For example, if water damage was the reason for the renovation, the floor contractors can lay a moisture barrier underneath the new covering to safeguard the new floor.

Preparing the floor correctly in the first place is the best way to extend the lifespan of a new floor. Facilities managers should employ a contractor that knows how to efficiently remove the previous covering including any adhesives used to lay the original floor. They then need to prepare the substrate, which is usually concrete, so that the new covering can be put on a clean and level floor that has the right concrete surface profile (CSP).

Taking the time to prepare for a renovation can help guarantee success. In surface preparation, choosing the right equipment and tooling is key when planning a renovation, so facilities managers should be in close contact with contractors to ensure the floor renovation is a success.


The renovation game