Designing a religious institution, whether it’s the construction of a new church or renovation of an existing facility, requires a delicate and poignant approach — one that pays tribute to the authenticity and history of the space, but is also mindful of the events and activities that take place within these religious environments.
The most salient element of designing the interior of a place of worship is selecting a flooring product that authentically harmonizes with the surrounding aesthetic, but is also durable enough to withstand the foot traffic experienced in most settings.
And while it’s not rare to see the use of natural hardwood, stone, ceramic and even carpet in these worship facilities, luxury vinyl tile has quickly become a preferred alternative for applications like church flooring — not only for its durability, but also due to its unparalleled design versatility.
However, determining when and where to use vinyl flooring is wholly dependent upon your desired design approach. In general, vinyl makes the most sense in a few particular areas within worship facilities.
Ideal Applications for Luxury Vinyl Within a Place of Worship
Common Space: Most places of worship feature a common area to accommodate after service gatherings, as well as community meetings, events and get-togethers. Because these spaces often experience a heavy amount of foot traffic like a cafeteria or restaurant, the flooring selected should be durable enough to withstand wear and tear, scuffs and spills.
Luxury vinyl, as a result, is becoming one of the more popular products for these common areas. Not only does the design versatility of vinyl allow for numerous design styles within a space, but it is also easier to maintain than other common church flooring products like carpet.
Speaking Platform/Stage: Whether it’s a raised lectern or an auditorium-style stage, the speaking platform/staging area of a worship facility is an important focal point and should be designed as such. Because of its frequency in use, church flooring selections like ceramic or hardwood are not recommended because it can create unwanted noise and can also be cost-prohibitive.
Therefore, the use of carpet is at times a consideration, though it is limiting in design authenticity. Luxury vinyl, therefore, is an ideal alternative due to its ability to replicate the look and texture of wood and stone, and is quieter underfoot than other hard surface materials.
Aisles: The aisles of a worship facility, whether in the center or along the sides of the seating, is a high-traffic area — which means it is far more susceptible to wear and tear. Often, you’ll notice carpet is used in aisles due to its sound-absorption qualities; however, constant foot traffic may break down the carpet fibers, backing or pad, causing visible wear such as discoloration or matting.
Additionally, carpet is not as aesthetically flexible for places such as church flooring when taking a design approach that adheres to the authenticity and history of the worship facility itself.
Luxury vinyl flooring is becoming a preferred alternative due its durability and ease of maintenance, as well as sound qualities when compared to other hard surfaces.
Additionally, vinyl flooring allows you to achieve an old-world look and feel found in most historic and modern places of worship, replicating the look of natural wood or stone.
Because aisle space often takes up a large amount of square footage, luxury vinyl becomes an ideal option — not only for its price comparison and durability attributes, but also due to its ability to replicate natural materials.
Entryway: The entry (and exit) area of a place of worship is a common place to congregate before and after services and events. As a result, this space experiences heavy foot traffic and – undoubtedly – the most exposure to the outdoor elements being brought inside, such as snow and dirt.
While carpet appears to be a popular choice in these spaces, it’s clear that this option for places such as church flooring can become easily worn down and damaged due to the usage and exposure of dirt debris.
Hard surfaces can be used in this space, but so too can luxury vinyl. In either scenario, a walk-off mat should always be used in this area. Vinyl flooring, however, features an unparalleled cleanability compared to other hard surfaces.
Under Seating: The under seating within a worship building or structure should not be overlooked. These areas are also exposed to the debris brought in from the outside, so the flooring selection should be resistant to scuffs and scratches, and should be easy to clean.
While carpet is a popular choice here, the accessibility for cleaning (e.g., with a vacuum) is not always ideal. Luxury vinyl flooring, as a result, is the preferred choice due to its cleanability, as well as design benefits.
Why Luxury Vinyl Is the Preferred Church Flooring Alternative
The benefits of using luxury vinyl flooring in worship facilities cannot be understated. As mentioned earlier, not only does luxury vinyl possess durability characteristics unlike other flooring products, but it’s second to none in terms of design versatility and is competitively priced when compared to carpet and other natural surfaces.
Worship centers today must feature flooring that is easy to clean and maintain — just think of all the services that take place on a daily and weekly basis. Additionally, areas like church flooring must be easy to maintain and replace, so as not to impact scheduled events and services.
Lastly, the acoustical value of a place of worship is an important consideration when selecting the right flooring for various spaces within.
Unlike other interiors and commercial spaces where sound absorption is adequate or necessary, to church facilities, for example, the projection of sound — whether it’s from speakers, choirs or instruments — is an integral part of the service and/or religious practice. Often, the use of carpets will absorb too much sound, muffling the overall quality.
This article is courtesy of Parterre Flooring, www.parterreflooring.com. Since 1991, Parterre Flooring has offered luxury vinyl tile, plank and sheet flooring products with superior quality and performance. Their broad selection of flooring solutions authentically mirrors the look of granite, marble, limestone and wood, as well as metallic surfaces and other unique finishes.