While there are nearly limitless possibilities for exhibit flooring at tradeshows, a common denominator typically impacts all flooring decisions exhibit designers make.
“Ultimately, it is the cost compared to the budget that might determine which route they
have to take,” said Bob Ryley, president, Exhibitors Carpet Service. “A contemporary look using a portion of laminate hardwood flooring can be more expensive than using vinyl flooring that looks like wood. The installation time is much less and therefore less expensive.
“If you are trying to keep costs as low as possible, you can use a standard-weight carpet in the 16-ounce range,” continued Ryley. “This carpet will be less expensive, but I recommend using the half-inch padding so that your visitors will still feel the comfort of padding when they enter your exhibit. If you are looking for contrast, consider a vinyl product that looks like wood rather than an actual wood laminate to keep installation costs down.”
Vinyl flooring can be an affordable flooring option, but laminate flooring also is an affordable alternative.
“Laminate flooring is very cost-effective,” said Aaron Smith, sales executive, D.E. McNabb Flooring. “It is a less expensive way to achieve a wood-floor or tile look.”
Laminate flooring can even simulate stone flooring by placing a photographic image between laminated layers of synthetic materials. And laminate flooring can withstand the rigors of repeated tradeshow use while being easy to install.
“Laminate flooring is highly durable. It is more scratch-resistant than most hardwoods,” said Smith. “It is a very clean, high-end look and really sets the booth apart from the others in the show.
“A 20-by-20 laminate booth should only take about five to six hours to finish completely,” said Smith. “This includes the subfloor and transition ramps around the perimeter. In most cases, you would need some type of subfloor for your wire management, but we have fine-tuned a system that is cost-efficient and cost-effective.”
Laminate flooring also can be made to resemble a company brand.
“Graphics and artwork could be applied to the laminate flooring at the show site,” said Smith. “Laminates are just a picture of a finished floor printed onto a substrate. Although the images have come a long way in the past few years, they are not always an exact match to the real thing.”
While versatile, laminate flooring does have limitations.
“Laminates would not be a good product if used in an area that would be exposed to moisture. I wouldn’t recommend it for most outdoor applications that are going to be set up for any length of time,” said Smith.
Another affordable flooring alternative is bamboo.
“There are several bamboo flooring options that have been in use for many years,” said Dave Walens, president, Brumark Total Flooring Solutions. “Solid bamboo interlocking flooring is one option, and rollable bamboo is another. Bamboo is beautiful when installed properly. If you are using a floating bamboo floor, you can install it directly over the floor. In many cases, however, it will be necessary to install it on a raised floor so you have a level surface and so you can run utilities under the floor.”
Its look and eco-friendly nature make bamboo a popular option among exhibit designers.
“Bamboo is most used by designers as a green solution, as it is made from a fast-growing, renewable source,” said Walens. “Plus, it’s recyclable and biodegradable. It’s also durable. In fact, it’s harder than most other solid woods.”
While harder than most solid woods, bamboo can be damaged.
“Bamboo flooring is durable but certainly can be scratched,” said Walens. “Nothing will be as durable as carpet.”