Way back in 2013, we wrote about a client our Long Beach architecture firm was doing some work for—a community center in Long Beach. They were looking to update the locker rooms used by their members. Our architecture firm presented them with a design, which included material suggestions for things like flooring.
The facilities committee that the client had put in charge of making decisions about the locker room loved the overall design, but didn’t like our firm’s suggestion of ceramic tile for the locker rooms. They wanted something that would feel warmer underfoot, and were also concerned about the grout lines requiring too much cleaning. Price was an issue as well. The flooring needed to be budget-friendly.
The committee consulted with an interior designer from another firm and she suggested using sheet vinyl—a product often used in hospitals. Yes, it’s durable, easy to clean, and affordable, but instinctively, using it in this setting seemed like a bad idea to us. The facility had experienced water infiltration issues in the past, plus, the highly used locker rooms would naturally see a lot of water on the floors and I warned the committee that moisture could get trapped under the flooring and cause issues.
The client ultimately decided on the vinyl flooring, despite my warnings.
Here’s what we wrote back in 2013: “In a high-use locker room space that is shared by both adults and children, materials that are slip resistant, easy to clean, and perform best when constantly wet seem to be the most appropriate choice. Materials such as stone or ceramic tile are natural choices. We presented several stone and ceramic options, but durable vinyl was ultimately selected by the client as it meets most of the qualities they wanted. But because vinyl is not porous it may trap moisture and prove to be an issue long term. Time will tell.”
Well, time did tell. Only six years later, the client is replacing the same section of flooring again. This time, they are using the type of flooring we suggested in the first place—ceramic tile.
This isn’t meant to be an “I-told-you-so” type of blog post. We were honestly hoping the vinyl would work out well for the client and last for many more years. Rather, this post is meant to serve as an encouragement for people to trust those who are experts in their respective fields. As architects, we have first-hand experience with a variety of materials. There are reasons why we recommend time-tested products for certain applications—like tile in locker rooms.
At our architecture firm, we have clients come to us all the time with their own ideas—and we welcome them! We do our best to get everything our clients want into their home or commercial building designs. But sometimes it’s necessary to come back to them with alternatives. This isn’t because we don’t value their ideas, but because there may be an unintended consequence they haven’t considered, or a code issue that prevents us from doing exactly what they want. Ultimately, we want what’s best for our clients.
Trust your architect (assuming you’ve done your research and have hired a trustworthy one). Trust their experience and training, and that they’re looking out for your best interests. It could save you from costly “re-dos” in the future.
If you need a Long Beach architect for your upcoming project, contact us at Grisafe Architecture. You can trust that we’ll help you design a space that will serve you well long-term.