How Thoughtful Design Can Battle Covid-19
In a series of blogs, Tran + Thomas Design explores the ways we can partner with science and good design practice to fight viruses to create safe and healthy environments in both private and public spaces.
A significant factor in creating a safe and healthy environment in both commercial and residential spaces is the careful and thoughtful selection of materials. In our last post, we explored the benefits of using copper in design. While copper itself is inherently anti-microbial, other surface materials also have beneficial qualities. On a regular surface, bacteria can double its population in as little as 20 minutes. Today’s selection of materials includes both products that are inherently anti-bacterial, or have applied treatments that can enhance its antimicrobial properties.
Quartz and Porcelain
The best type of material to help stop the spread of viruses and bacteria is one that is smooth, non-porous and does not need sealing. Easily one of the most popular choices is quartz. Made of natural minerals, ground quartz and resin, this non-porous surface is not only smooth, leaving no place for microbes to hide, but has the beauty and depth of natural stone. Like quartz, porcelain is also smooth and non-porous. It is available in large slabs, eliminating the need for grout lines that often be a breeding ground for bacteria.
A great cost-effective way to get the look and antibacterial qualities on a budget is with laminate countertops that have added Antimicrobial Protection. Wilsonart, known for their engineered surfaces, uses a silver ion additive that inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. Octupus Products also offers silver ion treated laminates, with both anti-bacterial and sanitized treatments, popular in both healthcare and public areas.
Naturally, floors are the dirtiest surfaces in our spaces, not only bringing in dirt and pathogens from outside, but allowing the spread of microscopic matter between rooms. Installing flooring that have antimicrobial qualities help reduce this spread, and increases the overall health of the space.
Cork flooring has been gaining traction for the last several years for its beauty, durability and sustainability. But it also has health benefits that are important in today’s environment. Primarily, cork is resistant to moisture, because of a waxy substance found in the cell structure. It also contains Phenolic compounds, a group of molecules which kills bacteria and fungus. It has a natural ability to resist dust and mites, rendering it hypo-allergenic, as well.
Smooth, non-porous surfaces also have a health benefit for flooring. Ceramic and porcelain tile are both resistant to bacteria. However, grout can be a breeding ground for these microorganisms. When replacing tile, choose designs that are larger format that have fewer grout lines, and use an anti-bacterial grout.
LVT flooring, or Luxury Vinyl Tile, has also gained traction in recent years for its ability to look like other materials, cost-effective price point and ease of installation. But in the wake of Covid-19, it is also getting a second look for its antimicrobial properties. Built into the finishing process, LVT can be cleaned with bleach and disinfectants, making in a popular choice for healthcare, assisted living and schools, as well as home with pets and children.
Popular in public spaces such as restrooms, touchless or hand-motion faucets are an excellent choice to prevent the spread of viruses and microbes. Some are as simple as a wave of a hand to activate water-flow, others can control both volume and temperature by the sound of a voice, or even a foot pedal.
Similar to faucets, light switches and lamp controls use voice-activation, hand motion and smart phone technology to allow you to adjust your lighting without ever having to touch a fixture. Not only is this great for preventing spread, but a convenient solution to everyday living
As we adapt to this new normal, everything in your home, from cabinetry to appliances to toilets can some form of touchless activation. Making smart choices about the technologies available to us, as well as using materials with anti-microbial properties can make us all safer and healthier.
About Tran + Thomas
Built on the foundation of a 30-year, family-owned Interior Design business, Jill Tran and Carmen Thomas opened Tran + Thomas Design Studio in 2011 bringing a combined 36 years of experience to their projects. They work on both residential and commercial projects across several styles. Interested in their services? Call (913) 268-9595 or schedule a consultation below.