Cost-Effective Higher Education Flooring Solutions

There are more than 4,300 higher education institutions in the U.S. as of 2024. That number represents about 78 square miles of flooring—roughly the size of the city of Cleveland, Seattle, Cincinnati, or Baltimore. In financial terms, that adds up to about $10 billion in flooring.

With today’s budget limitations and high-traffic spaces, finding indoor and outdoor flooring that withstands daily wear and tear without breaking the bank can be challenging, especially when you consider that flooring prices have risen about 30% over the past five years. So, getting what you need at a reasonable price is crucial.

Controlling Flooring Costs

Here are a few ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality.

Set Minimum Performance Standards, Not Luxury Finishes

Of course, aesthetics matter, but function trumps form for education flooring. Concentrate specifications on durability, acoustic performance, stain and soil resistance, and longevity over striking designs or glossy finishes destined for scuffing.

Utilize Ground Floors and Upper-Level Floors

Cost-efficient options like polished concrete, stained concrete, or commercial sheet vinyl work well in basements or on upper-level floors with less visibility. Exposed concrete classroom flooring can also produce an industrial chic look where noise echoes less than tiled floors.

Seek Volume Discounts and Rebates

Leverage economies of scale by bundling multi-building projects into a single bid request. Vendors typically offer better rates if consolidating work allows them to optimize scheduling and purchasing.

If possible, you may time bid requests for slower seasons when demand lulls, allowing suppliers to sweeten pricing to fill capacity. Promotional rebates on specific manufacturer product lines may also generate surprising savings, so stay open to options.

Look for Cooperative Purchasing Opportunities

By working with E&I Cooperative Services, a member-owned, non-profit sourcing cooperative that focuses exclusively on education, you can find substantial savings. With 6,000 member institutions, E&I Cooperative Services competitively sources contracts with top education flooring providers. These ready-to-use contracts meet procurement requirements to save time and money while working with local and regional suppliers.

Economize on Maintenance

You can manage costs for classroom flooring by taking maintenance into account. For example:

  • Use interchangeable carpet tiles: Rather than selecting a single uniform carpet tile, choose complements in varied colors or patterns. Rotating tile placement spreads wear evenly across the floor over time, eliminating noticeable traffic lanes. Stock extra inventory of each variation to enable quick hot swaps for damaged sections.
  • Employ proactive cleaning: Preventative cleaning reduces costs long term by avoiding stains, damage, and premature replacement. Establish consistent floor care regimens using environmentally friendly solutions compatible with flooring materials. Train custodians to immediately spot-clean spills before they set.
  • Educate users and facility managers on best practices: Engage faculty, staff, and students to protect your flooring investment by reporting spills or moisture issues rapidly. Discourage transporting food or beverages through carpeted areas and promote a culture of shared stewardship.
  • Consider DIY repairs: Equipping facilities teams with tools for basic carpet, vinyl, or tile repairs bridges the gap until professionals can permanently fix bigger issues. Even damaged sections of hard flooring like concrete, stone, or tile may be amenable to DIY grinding, filling, and refinishing.

Focus on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

While the upfront purchase price is important, always focus on the total cost of ownership. Investing in durable, long-lasting education flooring will save money over time, with fewer repairs or replacements needed. By considering the total costs across a product’s lifespan, you can make better decisions for wiser procurement.

Stretch Your Campus Flooring Dollars Further

By taking a holistic focus beyond initial flooring costs to total lifetime expenses, higher education institutions stretch dollars further. Simple preventative measures also guard the quality of appearance that upholds college and university brands for decades rather than just a few years.

Ultimately, flooring decisions allow limited campus funding to be applied to other mission-critical needs. E&I Cooperative Services has multiple contracts with top education flooring suppliers to help you find exactly what you need.

From carpet to tile to hardwood to sustainable flooring options, find cost-effective flooring solutions with E&I Cooperative Services.:

Contact E&I Cooperative Services today to view available contracts for education flooring.


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