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I INNOVATION


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very single piece of equipment and every finish has an impact on the performance of a commercial kitchen, and this is as true of the flooring as it is of the ventilation system or the cooking range. The choice of flooring affects the level of hygiene and safety a kitchen can achieve, both of which will influence the quality of the food.


A kitchen floor must meet several requirements, most of which are determined by the fact that much of it is permanently exposed to high stresses. Wherever food is prepared, hygiene and safety are the top priorities, so the floor must have a surface that is both easy to clean and offers enough traction to prevent slipping. Beyond these considerations, however, flooring is not always given the attention it deserves.


“Flooring trickles down to the bottom of the list of kitchen design priorities,” says consultant Jim Petersen FCSI. “Usually the architect makes a choice of quarry tile or something else, and as designers we have health department regulations covering all finishes to ensure that they are smooth and easy to clean. Usually you see tiles or sealed concrete or some synthetic products, either in sheets or in liquid form, that can be trowelled on and left to set. As consultants we discuss issues with architects, but there is a dilemma in terms of the requirements. “Easy to clean means smooth, which also means slippery. So, we always suggest there is some grip, although that makes cleaning harder. At one extreme you could have a rough material like they use on aircraft carriers, but the raised elements trap dirt, so a smoother product that still has grip is more suitable for a kitchen. When we talk to architects about the material, we


60 Troughs


allow a large volume of water to escape


“Flooring trickles down to the bottom of the list of kitchen design priorities”


say it should be smooth but also with traction. Ultimately, however, the architect chooses and clears it with the health department,” he adds. The final choice of a flooring solution in a commercial kitchen may lie with the architect, but getting to that decision is the result of a collaborative process that involves the designer and the plumbing engineer, as drainage is a vital factor in determining how effective a floor covering is. The consultant’s role in that process is to contribute some insight into the operator’s needs. “The floor must be pitched to the drains at the lowest part so that there is no standing water,” explains Petersen. “The architect is responsible


for the location of the drains. A steep pitch is better than a shallow one, but it makes equipment harder to use as it may roll down the slope. Fixed equipment can be levelled, but mobile equipment presents a problem. Some equipment can be connected to drainage so that water does not meet the floor; other items require an air gap to prevent back up, and may need to be near a floor drain. “Floor troughs – long rectangular drains – might be used if a lot of water meets the floor, such as when items are hosed down and a large volume of water needs to escape,” he continues. “Flooring solutions need to take into account the type of drainage systems in place and how the space in the kitchen is used. “As well as working in harmony with the preferred drainage systems and being watertight, a flooring solution must be installed seamlessly around the installed equipment and provide a non-slip surface to prevent accidents. For optimum hygiene, it


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