Fabulous feat of technical success for Gerflor at Sea Life Brighton ..

In a recent refurbishment of the Sea Life centre in Brighton, international flooring specialist Gerflor supplied 670m2 of vinyl flooring. The project included a fusion of their GTI Max Technical Tiles and Tarasafe Ultra Safety flooring collections. These innovations were fast and easy to install and were the perfect solution for the high standards required by the client when it comes to durability and safety for visitors and staff. The choice of the Gerflor products would also deliver a stunning and unusual element to the overall finished look of the project.

Brighton Aquarium was conceived and designed by Eugenius Birch; the architect responsible for the West Pier. Work began in 1869 and the aquarium opened in 1872 making the facility the oldest continually operating aquarium in the world. Set underground, near the pier, the beautifully vaulted granite and marble hall is a quite a breath-taking wonder.

Neil Harris, General Manager, Sea Life Brighton commented, “Over the winter lockdown period, the condition of our current vinyl roll flooring deteriorated due to a temporary reduction in our air handling system. This resulted in a build-up of moisture within the building that accelerated the deterioration of the floor, which in areas was already in a poor condition.” Neil Harris continued, “As our attraction was closed, it was a golden opportunity to have floor replacement works carried out during a period where it would not impact on our visitors and avoid overnight work, which in an aquarium is always best avoided.”

On specification Neil Harris added, “We chose Gerflor’s GTI Max and Tarasafe Ultra products because we needed a fast-track solution for a unique and challenging environment, which sits within a 150-year-old grade two listed building. Gerflor specialists were on hand, having visited the site, they offered the best solution for our unique building and considered all the various environmental factors that we manage. In addition to this the recommended solutions would allow for easier future maintenance when replacement and refurbishment works would be critical to the facility. The format of the floorings and the aesthetics would blend in well with our beautiful Victorian architecture.”

Paul Sceats, Specification Area Manager, Gerflor said, “The existing floor had potentially become hazardous as the flooring itself had ripples in it from the pressure of heavy trollies with water tanks being wheeled across it. In addition to this, in many places the seams of this flooring were being held together with tape creating possible dangerous trip-points for visitors and staff. Paul Sceats added, “The other area of concern was about the installation method, over an irregular subfloor. Alongside Sea Life’s preferred flooring installer ‘Tufts Flooring’ it was decided to specify Gerflor’s fast-track, interconnecting GTI Max tiles and Tarasafe Safety flooring.”

Amersham-based Tufts Flooring is owned and run by Dean Tanner, a flooring expert with over 30yrs experience in the industry. Tufts provides services across the UK and Europe to commercial and residential customers. Services include consultation, solution recommendations and a full fitting service.

Dean Tanner, Managing Director, Tufts Flooring commented, “Sea Life contacted us as the Victorian Arcade Aquarium flooring had reached the end of its useful life and was no longer fit for purpose. Sea Life approached us to develop a solution that would result in an appropriate floor covering system that would have a long life.” On technical challenges Dean Tanner said, “The area in which the flooring was to be laid was very damp and the solution also had to cope with heavy loads due to transporting fish in large water filled tanks. The specification used Gerflor GTI Max as it is a heavy traffic solution and can cope in challenging environments.”

The GTI Max range provides a speedy renovation solution and can be installed over many different types of existing floorcoverings with minimal subfloor preparation, no adhesives are required and most importantly… no disruption or need to close the establishment. It comes with the polyurethane surface treatment PUR+ for ease of maintenance and specifiers and designers can also benefit from mixing and matching colours to create corners and walkways using its modular tile format in 23 stunning colour choices. GTI Max is also 100% REACH compliant, Floorscore® certified, free of formaldehyde, free of heavy metals and solvents and manufactured in an ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 certified site. GTI Max delivers TVOC emissions 10 times better than norm requirements (TVOC < 100 μg/m3 after 28 days). GTI Max is 100% recyclable and is also made with up to 80% recycled content.

Paul Sceats went on to say, “GTI Max was the preferred option as it can withstand greater foot traffic but more importantly much greater point loading from wheeled traffic. It also has an appearance to resemble terrazzo, and the joints are virtually invisible as soon as the tiles are laid. These tiles are frequently used in the refurbishment of many supermarkets and stores, and consequently we hold a lot of stock in the UK, which was also a useful factor for a tight programme to ensure Sea Life was operational in readiness for their planned re-opening after lockdown.” Paul Sceats added, “Over 600m2 of GTI Max was installed throughout all of the main gallery space speedily and without any adhesive or seams. Tarasafe Ultra was used on the adjacent plinths in front of the display tanks. Tarasafe Ultra is a safety floor to ensure more grip on a smaller raised area, where people may be less sure-footed and there may be occasional water spillages too. This range is equally readily available from UK flooring trade distributors who hold stock.”

Tarasafe Ultra is a specialist slip-resistant vinyl safety flooring inlaid with mineral crystals particles, as opposed to carborundum giving a brighter appearance. It also comes with a tough PVC wearlayer and meets HSE guidelines. Tarasafe Ultra is reinforced with a glass fibre grid and is suitable for use in all areas of heavy traffic where slip-resistance, durability and hygienic conditions are required. Tarasafe Ultra comes with a 12-year warranty and is also 100% recyclable.

The range has a maximum hygiene rating meeting the EN Standard 22196 for anti- bacterial activity (E. coli – S. aureus – MRSA) (3) returning >99% levels of growth inhibition.

Neil Harris further commented, “Everyone who has seen the floor is beyond amazed with how it looks and how it has lifted the presentation of the site. We have had no maintenance issues and we genuinely believe the new floor has contributed to an increase in our overall guest satisfaction scores. There is often disbelief when I tell people they are walking across tiles. They cannot even see the joins which says a lot for the overall quality of the product.”

Neil Harris went on to further say, “We have the responsibility of preserving the heritage of the Victorian architecture, but we had to work around the environmental factors that open top tanks and a saltwater reservoir bring with this. A big challenge was minimising the impact on the welfare of our animals, who remained in their homes within the aquarium whilst the project work was carried out. Due to extensive planning and discussions, there was no impact to our animals and the project went very smoothly.”

On fitting Dean Tanner commented, “The Gerflor products were very easy to lay as it locks together and doesn’t require adhesive.” Adding, “The biggest challenge was the dampness in the air and on all surfaces, not only due to it being an aquarium but also because it is an old Victorian building.”

Dean Tanner concluded, “Tufts Flooring has recommended and used Gerflor solutions many times over the years. We always seek the best and most appropriate solutions for a clients’ needs. Gerflor products are extremely high quality, and the technical, sales, and customer service is excellent.”

Neil Harris ended by saying, “We would absolutely specify Gerflor flooring again, in fact, some of our on-site partners immediately reached out to Gerflor to highlight their interest in having similar work carried out in other parts of the building. Gerflors’ customer service was also brilliant, with incredibly open and honest communication, with a desire to achieve our needs as a customer at all times.”

Learn more about Gerflor solutions, ask for a free sample or contact us to speak to a specialist today by calling 03332 412901, emailing contractuk@gerflor.com, or visiting gerflor.co.uk for the latest innovations.

To find out more about Gerflor’s vinyl flooring click here.

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