Flooring Solutions for Higher Education Institutions

A Tale of Two Universities

One higher education institution was looking to replace the dated carpeting in its library. As a low-cost solution, the procurement team chose to install wall-to-wall carpeting over the summer when student traffic is low. However, they soon realized the carpet’s poor durability could not withstand the high traffic once students returned in the fall. Within months, the carpet showed terrible wear patterns, requiring frequent patching and repairs.

The other institiution faced a similar need to replace 30-year-old carpets in some academic buildings. Their procurement team thoroughly researched various commercial flooring for higher education institutions’ options for durability and ease of maintenance. Though the initial investment was higher, they chose modular carpets with high-density cushions and stain-resistant fibers. Facilities crews could easily swap out only worn carpet tiles as needed over time. Despite heavy student foot traffic, the carpets maintained a fresh, clean look for over a decade with minimal upkeep.

Smart flooring decisions yield significant long-term dividends. Choosing the right flooring turns your teams into problem solvers.

Types of Flooring Solutions

There is a wide variety of hard and soft higher education flooring solutions for different needs. Some of the most common types of flooring include:


Modular carpets are highly versatile for colleges and universities. Damaged or worn tiles can be easily taken up and replaced when needed instead of replacing entire areas. Features like high-density cushions and stain-resistant fibers better withstand heavy foot traffic from students, faculty, and staff.

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)

For classrooms, hallways, and other heavy-use areas, luxury vinyl tile mimics wood or stone aesthetics at a lower cost while providing exceptional durability. LVT’s waterproof, slip-resistant surface makes it ideal for the inevitable spills in dining halls and science labs.

Rubber & Poured Floors

Rubber floors have long been the athletic facility standard, boasting exceptional impact absorption. Newer poured floors offer similar cushioning properties to protect athletes from injuries during sports like basketball, volleyball, and indoor track. Properly installed, these seamless floor systems are also highly slip-resistant when surfaces are wet.

Antimicrobial options also help resist germs in locker rooms and pools.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

Both ceramic and porcelain tiles deliver bold style for dramatic design statements in entryways, lobbies, cafeterias, and restrooms. When properly sealed, these tiles stand up well to heavy foot traffic and the most rigorous cleaning. Porcelain tile offers greater stain and water resistance, while ceramic tile provides more slip resistance.

Tiles also simplify future spot repairs.


For a classic, natural look in lower-traffic spaces like administrative offices and meeting rooms, hardwood flooring adds warmth and elegance. Durability varies widely based on factors like lumber grade and finish.

Choosing the Right Flooring Solutions for Your Institution

Here are four tips for choosing the right commercial flooring for your higher education institution.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Procurement leaders know that from a financial standpoint, considering TCO and not just initial cost is the smart decision. How often will the floor require replacement? What is the cost of ongoing maintenance? How easily can small sections be spot-repaired?


Safety should be a top criteria. Floors must offer slip resistance when wet, especially in entryways or locker rooms. Ease of mobility around corners or through doorways also promotes better accessibility.

Performance and Durability

The amount and type of traffic each area will see is critical. Entryways may require walk-off mats to capture dirt and grit before they damage floors. Soft surfaces like carpeting withstand heavy foot traffic better than hard flooring options but may wear faster.

Performance factors like noise transmission or acoustic absorption may dictate floor choices as well. Consider carpeting or rubber floors in theaters, music rooms, and residence halls to absorb sound.


As colleges and universities look to improve their sustainable practices, look for flooring with natural ingredients or recycled content. Some flooring companies offer products that are carbon neutral during manufacturing, while the use of low volatile organic compounds (VOC) adhesives also boost healthy indoor air quality.

Leverage Contracts Through E&I Cooperative Services  for Savings on Commercial Flooring for Higher Education

From modular, resistant vinyl to laminates, concrete, wood, carpet, rugs, and more, E&I Cooperative Services has competitively solicited cooperative contracts for all of your needs for higher education flooring solutions. E&I contracts leverage the bulk buying power of more than 6,000 member institutions, providing you with considerable savings while maintaining relationships with local providers.

You can also leverage design and installation services from a variety of contract providers.

E&I Cooperative Services is the only member-owned, non-profit sourcing cooperative exclusively focused on serving the education community.

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


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