It’s 9am, the school bell rings signaling to teachers and students of Arbor Grove Elementary in Oklahoma City that the day is about to begin. The kids scamper to their respective classrooms. Each teacher greets the students with a smile and a wave or high-five. The atmosphere is calm, quiet, and upbeat, setting a positive tone for the day.

“We wanted the school, including its hallways, to be a welcoming and safe place for our children to learn,” said Arbor Grove Elementary Principal Brenda Davis, “whether it’s going to specials, coming in from recess, heading to lunch, or leaving at dismissal. The safety of our children is paramount.”

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Photo courtesy of REGUPOL

To bring to life the kid-friendly environment that school officials envisioned, the architect moved away from the vinyl composition tiles that were once the mainstay of academia and instead chose a more sustainable material: REGUPOL Revolution rubber flooring. The versatility, longevity, and beauty of REGUPOL Revolution provided designers with the inspiration to design a modern yet functional educational building.

Made of 100% post-consumer tire and post-industrial EPDM rubber, REGUPOL Revolution is inherently slip-resistant, durable, and comfortable underfoot but above all else is fashionable. A range of 46 standard colors and textures with options for custom color and logos lend itself to fresh designs and seemingly endless design choices.

The design team and school administration chose the color Mountain Top from the Progress Series for its timeless appearance and subtle, earth tones. Set against the bold, primary colors of the other design elements in the hallways, the floor design helps strike a balance between over-stimulation and lack of stimulation. It promotes playfulness and positivity.

“When choosing the best flooring, schools should consider a wide range of factors: the function of the space, aesthetics, lifecycle, maintainability, durability, comfort, acoustics, indoor air quality, and cost,” said John Connors, of Performance Surfaces.

How Rubber Flooring in Schools Boosts Learning

Rubber flooring has become a valued flooring choice among many interior designers and architects, particularly those designing for education. Rubber flooring is durable and time-tested, maintaining its beauty under heavy foot traffic and use. It is scratch, scuff, and stain-resistant, so floors look newer, longer. Maintaining its like-new appearance is easy with a vacuum and damp mop. And unlike hard surfaces, rubber floors do not require a copious amount of time to strip and recoat with wax each academic year.

The process of removing old layers of wax and dirt, preparing the floor to be refinished, restoring its appearance, and protecting it from future damage requires substantial time and money. To put it in perspective, the average cost to strip and wax a floor ranges from $1.00 to $1.33 per square foot depending upon the condition of the floor. Factor in the annual coating costs over the life of the floor, and suddenly the seemingly cheaper initial cost per square foot of a non-rubber floor skyrockets.

The elimination of harsh chemical products associated with waxing and stripping can also contribute to healthier indoor air quality. The distracting and often irritating scent of chemical cleaners is no longer a problem, which helps create a more pleasant environment for students and staff—and a safer one as well.

At the same time, rubber flooring helps address the growing trend in green school initiatives. Rubber flooring does not emit substances in toxic concentrations or contain any PVC, plasticizers (phthalate), or halogens (such as chlorine).

Minimizing School-Time Noise

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Photo courtesy of REGUPOL

Noise is an increasing concern in educational environments. High-noise levels hinder teaching and learning in schools and negatively impact productivity in offices. With flooring, one of the most abundant finishes in the built environment, the opportunity to positively influence the acoustical performance of a space is great. Commercial rubber flooring like Revolution is known for its sound-absorbent qualities and proven effectiveness in minimizing sounds associated with echoes in the hallway, student chatter, and heavy foot traffic to a more tolerable, less distracting level.

Arbor Grove School officials appreciated the performance features rubber brought to the project. REGUPOL Revolution is resistant to traffic patterns, as well as indentations from desks, chairs, and miscellaneous equipment, extending the life of the flooring. And the flooring provided the volume control necessary to promote a quieter environment for students to learn, concentrate, and ultimately perform better.

Six years after completion of the project, school officials at Arbor Grove Elementary are continually pleased with its performance year after year. “REGUPOL Revolution covers nearly 16,000 square feet at Arbor Grove from hallways to classrooms and a staff lounge and every inch looks as good as the day installed,” said Davis.

The benefits of rubber flooring in schools and other educational facilities are significant and should not be ignored. You can trust the flooring to maintain its original beauty through the years with less effort and money spent on cleaning and maintenance. It stands up to constant wear and tear and the abuse that life’s everyday spills and accidents create, ensuring a long life. Ergonomics provide added comfort to teachers standing for several hours on their feet. Rubber flooring contributes to improved indoor air quality and an environment that is conducive to learning, all while providing a generous color palette and patterns for endless design choices.

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gb&dPRO members are recognized experts in their fields and contribute opinion columns as one of their member benefits. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and may not reflect the view of gb&d. We are committed to a diversity of voices advocating for high-performing, sustainable built environment practices. We’d like to hear what you think about this article or any of our other coverage. Send us an email at [email protected].