Over and Under

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Over and Under

By Bob Ingram - 05/26/2015

Times were when shoppers noticed supermarket floors only on the occasion of a spill, and supermarket ceilings were taken for granted unless they leaked.

As food marketing has become ever more sophisticated, savvy retailers and store designers have come to realize that floors and ceilings are part and parcel of the total store ambience, and are constantly working with suppliers to maximize this part of the total shopping experience. Today, too, green considerations are increasingly important to shoppers and must also be taken into consideration with regard to floors and ceilings.

“When working with store designers,” says Deb Peer, commercial sales manager at ACP, in Neenah, Wis., “our goal is to understand the role of the ceiling within the space. Determining where form and function fall on their list of priorities is critical to selecting the correct product for the store or space within the store.”

According to Peer, supermarkets experience numerous challenges when it comes to ceilings. Food and health guidelines must be adhered to throughout the store, and moisture-causing mold and mildew are always present, given the store environment.

With this the case, Peer says that ACP’s most popular supermarket ceiling products are the Genesis tile line and GridMax snap-on ceiling covers. “The popularity of these products is due to the ROI that they provide,” she notes. “The reduction in required maintenance and replacement costs gives both Genesis and GridMax a distinct advantage.”

Ceiling maintenance is challenging because of its ongoing nature and associated costs, she points out. “Standard mineral-board tiles are inherently affected by moisture, which is ever present in the grocery environment,” Peer says. “These types of tile harbor mold and mildew, posing health concerns. Inevitably, this moisture will show as unsightly stains and tile discoloration. For these two reasons, the existing tiles will need to be replaced. Genesis ceiling tiles are waterproof, making them mold- and mildew-resistant, which eliminates the need for replacement.”

Grid systems will also need attention, according to Peer, who says that metal grid faces will yellow, rust and deteriorate over time, but ACP’s GridMax ceiling grid covers offer a low-cost alternative to ceiling grid replacement. “These high-grade vinyl covers easily install over the existing metal grid, come in many colors, and require minimal time investment compared to other refurbishment solutions,” she observes.

Green-wise, in addition to helping preserve the environment, purchasing a fully recyclable product has many benefits, she says, and because Genesis ceiling panels are 100 percent locally recyclable, no special landfill or recycling fees are required when disposing of old tiles.

“We anticipate a continued movement toward environmentally friendly products,” Peer declares. “Health codes and building regulations will continue to play an important role as well. Creating a favorable experience for store guests will become increasingly important to create differentiation within the marketplace.”

Achieving Balance

When working with store designers, the team at Pro Ceiling Tiles, in Bakersfeld, Calif., starts by pinpointing the style they have in mind. “They may want a modern look or a Victorian design, and once we get an idea of the overall design they are trying to achieve, we begin to narrow it down to the material and function of the tile,” Operations Manager Scott Fischer says. “For instance, there are some styles available that can be installed below the sprinkler system and will drop away in case of a fire, or tiles that support the weight of insulation.”

According to Fischer, there’s a balance to be achieved in finding a tile that will create an impact, implements functionality and stays within budget. If a retailer has a tight budget, it may choose a thinner tile, which restricts weight support, but there are many applications where weight isn’t a factor because insulation is lining the ceiling instead of lying on the grid, and this opens the door to numerous styles of low-cost designer options.

“The Stratford Ceiling Tile is our most popular ceiling tile in supermarkets,” he notes. “I believe the reason is because of the tile’s design, along with its low cost.” Pro Ceiling Tiles are made of vinyl, which requires minimum maintenance, Fischer points out, and air conditioning and roof leaks won’t affect them.

“Our ceiling tiles are made from recyclable materials that can be recycled by the curbside,” he says. “Another green advantage is that our Stratfords, for example, can ship 40 tiles in a single box, which saves a significant amount of room in the truck.

“As more designers discover our vinyl ceiling tiles, you’ll see more patterns and designs implemented,” he adds. “The supermarket can now decorate on a fifth wall.”

Look Out Below

In the area of supermarket flooring, Andy Mills, general director at Carrollton, Ga.-based Silikal America, says that the company “will work closely with the retailer and/or store designer to advise and inform as to which system is designed for what area.”

According to Mills, retail customers want slip resistance, cleanability, durability and pleasing aesthetics from their floors, and “Silikal provides floors that are extremely durable, nonslip, and that can be cleaned easily, thoroughly and repeatedly, yet maintain their integrity over the lifetime of the facility or structure.”

As an added bonus, he points out that Silikal offers an “endless” amount of color options and combinations by means of an online blend-mixing tool that gives customers the ability to design their own blends.

Mills notes that the R61 CQ flooring system for supermarkets is designed to take abuse, offers extreme slip resistance, and is ideal for food production areas, including freezers and coolers. Meanwhile, the Silikal R62 Flake, more of a decorative product, is well suited to sales and restroom areas. Both systems feature one-hour cure times, are nonporous and require low maintenance.

“Due to the fact that Silikal is a completely monolithic and fully seamless surface,” he points out, “there is no place for dirt or contaminants to hide, and it cannot be penetrated. In the rare chance a Silikal floor requires repairs, this can be done in little or no time, without interruption to the operation.”

Mills further notes that Silikal is a green product composed of VOC-free resins and inert fillers, and that the brand’s coatings are LEED-compliant and FDA- and USDA-approved.

More Ad Space

SelecTech Inc., in Avon, Mass., typically works directly with store owners, and nearly all of the company’s sales to supermarkets have been of its Freestyle tile. “This tile has a factory-applied urethane finish that requires only damp mopping. This eliminates the need for ongoing waxing,” President Tom Ricciardelli explains. “Since our product can be installed directly on top of existing floors, we eliminate the downtime and disruption that comes with tearing out an old floor.”

Freestyle is made with 70 percent recycled content and is 100 percent recyclable, Ricciardelli says. SelecTech has a program to buy back used material, and “since our tiles are not glued to the floor, it’s easy to pick them up for recycling,” he notes.

The company offers tiles that have digitally printed images as the finished surface, which gives supermarkets the ability to put branding and advertising in the floor, as opposed to stickers. “The imaging is as durable as our regular tiles, so they can be left permanently,” Ricciardelli notes.

As food marketing continues to evolve, so do stores themselves, quite literally from top to bottom.

“As more designers discover vinyl ceiling tiles, you’ll see more patterns and designs implemented. The supermarket can now decorate on a fifth wall.”
—Scott Fischer, Pro Ceiling Tiles

“We anticipate a continued movement toward environmentally friendly products. Health codes and building regulations will continue to play an important role as well. Creating a favorable experience for store guests will become increasingly important to create differentiation within the marketplace.”
—Deb Peer, ACP