Incorporating value engineering and life cycle costing into commercial flooring projects

Commercial flooring is a tremendous undertaking for any construction project. It’s important to have a floor that looks good, lasts a long time and sets the tone for the overall aesthetics of the design – after all, flooring is the one element always visible. The downside? Commercial flooring can eat up a large portion of the construction budget.

The floor is a constant-use element. It can be challenging to find a flooring material with visual appeal while also capable of dealing with an enormous amount of wear and tear. How do contractors find a balance between cost, aesthetics and durability? Value engineering.

Value engineering is the coordinated and purposeful method of identifying the best-value solutions to fit your budget, design and facility environment. This method is applicable to all aspects of a construction project. Essentially, it is relying on expert knowledge of materials and matching them up with a set of criteria to determine the sweet spot in balance between cost, aesthetics, function and durability.

Much of that is determined through life cycle cost analysis – the practice of examining the cost of material over its usable life as opposed to solely the upfront cost. Life cycle costing calculates the approximate dollar amount for the purchase of material, installation, cleaning, maintenance, repair, removal, disposal and replacement. The formula is then divided by the number of months or years the material is expected to last. In many cases, the selection of materials is often constricted by strict budget requirements. Because of these strict budget requirements, plenty of research and relying on experts will go a long way into finding that ideal balance.

How to save money on commercial flooring: value engineering, better materials and smarter solutions

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When incorporating value engineering and life cycle costing into your designs and material specifications, your design team should start by asking themselves a few questions:

  • What are the different functions the space must support?
  • What kind of wear and tear will the space see?
  • How long do will the facility be in use?
  • What look is the client trying to achieve?
  • What kind of message does the client want to convey?

Answers to these questions help gather important information about the project so that your team can research solutions and begin to specify ideal flooring materials. Once those materials have been identified, applying the life cycle costing formula will further narrow your selections to determine the best-value materials that still meet aesthetic, function and durability requirements.

Flooring materials to help meet your LCC goals

Here are some common flooring materials to consider for your next flooring project with life cycle cost analysis applied (all figures are approximate per square foot costs):

Quarry Tile – Durable and easy to maintain, quarry tile is a commonly found in food service areas. The tiles are made from a mixture of fired clay. In terms of per square foot costs, Quarry title has an installation cost of $6.83, a life cycle cost of $16.13 and an expected lifespan of 50 years. This calculates to a cost of $0.32 per year per square foot.

Vinyl Composition Tile – These tiles come in a variety of colors and grades. Vinyl Composition Tiles have good UV light and heat stability while also durable and impact resistant. Due to its porous nature, VCT requires specific cleaners. VCT has an installation cost of $3.91, a life cycle cost of $18.35 and an expected lifespan of 10 years. This calculates to a cost of $1.83 per year per square foot.

Laminate – Made up of multiple layers, laminate flooring is mostly a high-density fiberboard surrounded by a backing, a decorative print and a heat fused laminate layer. This laminate layer protects the core and design from dirt and liquids. Laminate has an installation cost of $8.84, a life cycle cost of $17.77 and an expected lifespan of 25 years. This calculates to a cost of $0.71 per year.

Terrazzo – Highly durable and aesthetically appealing, terrazzo traditionally has a higher upfront cost but is very resilient. Terrazzo is a composition made from various stone and glass chips mixed with portland cement or epoxy resin. It has become very popular for green flooring since it is easily installed without the use of hard chemicals. Portland Cement Terrazzo has an installation cost of $14.88, a life cycle cost of $24.27 and an expected lifespan of 30 years. This calculates to a cost of $0.81 per year per square foot.

Stained Concrete – Versatile in a lot of applications, stained concrete is easily installed and maintained. It’s safe, long lasting and durable in addition to being green friendly. Stained concrete has an installation cost of $12.40, a life cycle cost of $24.60 and an expected lifespan of 25 years. This calculates to $0.98 per year per square foot.

The differences between these options vary drastically. Generally speaking, one material is not better than the other. Instead, it’s about finding what material is right for your flooring needs when balancing the cost, aesthetic and functionality of the material. These are all viable options for many commercial flooring needs.

How to save money on commercial flooring: value engineering, better materials and smarter solutions

We’ve packed 350,000 projects worth of unbiased recommendations into this brief, no-nonsense guide. Read it to arm yourself with valuable negotiation insights, source the right materials at the best prices and cut through product hype.