Selecting Fabrics for Healthcare Settings



Selecting Fabrics for Healthcare Settings

David Dunston - Feb 2018

Why is fabric selection in healthcare design so challenging?

Welcome to the latest edition of the Vinyl in Design podcast, hosted by Terry Murphy.

Today’s conversation is about fabric failures and what to watch for.

Our guest today is Maria Lopez, one of many founder of the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers. Lopez is also a member of the Durable Coated Fabrics Roundtable.

In this podcast, we discuss:

  • why durable coated fabric is ideal for healthcare settings
  • the criteria for selecting the right fabric
  • the impact of cleaning protocols on fabric selection

Plus learn about the Forensics of a Failure and how dissecting what doesn’t work is often as important as understanding what does.

Innovations in Vinyl Products


Innovations in Vinyl Products

Jun 2017

Product manufacturers are doing innovative things with vinyl, giving designers more choices, textures, patterns, colors and applications than ever before.



Beyond Design: 4 More Uses for Vinyl in Hospitality



Beyond Design: 4 More Uses for Vinyl in Hospitality

Terry Murphy - Jun 2016

I travel a lot for my job, so I take hotel design personally. Hotel companies try to create spaces that deliver a positive experience for guests and employees. As a guest, I look for good locations and affordable rates. Rooms need to be comfortable, clean and quiet.

Hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality venues use a lot of vinyl. Hotel design, in particular, is heavy on vinyl, and for good reason. 

The aesthetics of vinyl flooring are great, as vinyl flooring features fresh looks and is easy to maintain. Similarly, I see a lot of vinyl in hotel wallcovering, fabrics, shades, signage, and graphics. That’s the visible vinyl. 

Beyond vinyl in design, the building envelope may use vinyl siding and trim, vinyl windows, vinyl doors, and vinyl membrane roofing. Vinyl is also often used in landscaping, including irrigation products, cellular vinyl structures, fencing, decking, and railing. Most of the outdoor furniture I see in my travels is made of vinyl.

What about the vinyl you don’t see?

There’s vinyl behind the walls.

Here are four vinyl applications that you don’t see but that play a key role in maximizing both your comfort and your safety in hotels and other hospitality venues. 

Vinyl is a great noise dampener.

By strategically placing sound-dampening, mass-loaded vinyl around vending rooms, ice machine rooms, and elevators, hotels can deliver quieter spaces to their guests and ultimately sell space that otherwise might be looked at as undesirable. 

Mass-loaded vinyl is a product based on the long-established principle in sound control and management of “add mass, decouple, and absorb.” When building components are designed and installed with respect to principles of physics, sound transmission can be reduced. If you travel at all, you’ve likely come to appreciate the hotels that include solid noise-dampening behind the walls.

Vinyl wires and cables are fire resistant.

Vinyl wires and cables are fire resistant and excellent electrical insulators. As a result, vinyl wiring is growing in popularity for both residential and commercial use – including hotels and other hospitality venues. It is durable, flexible, and holds up to the demands of electrical current. In addition, there are low-smoke and flame formulations that are approved for use in air plenums without the need for metal conduits. 

Vinyl wire and cable insulation was first used during WWII as engineers discovered that PVC didn’t crack the way that old rubber wiring did. In addition, it tended to hold its color better than rubber, which is useful when you’re trying to trace wires over time. Today, you find vinyl-coated wires all over, including in use in data, fiber optics, and CATV cables.

CPVC sprinkler systems are efficient and cost effective.

CPVC sprinkler systems are rated for light hazard occupancies (e.g., hotels) as defined by NFPA 13. These sprinkler systems are efficient and don’t corrode. They’re also less expensive to install than alternative systems, making CPVC a material of choice in the hotel industry.

PVC pipe is lightweight, durable, and easy to install.

The fourth behind-the-scenes vinyl application is PVC pipe. Some major hotel corporations are actively considering a switch to PVC pipe to deliver clean water and DWV to evacuate water. And there are many reasons for them to change -- PVC pipe is lightweight, economical, durable, non-corrosive, and has a long service life. In addition, PVC has lower thermal conductivity than metallic pipe; this means the “hot” in hot water isn’t lost too quickly along the way. 

Finally, the inside surface of PVC pipe is smooth, meaning there is low resistance to water flow. This saves energy in pumping water and significantly lessens the likelihood that biofilms will grow—ensuring hotel guests with a safe, reliable, water supply.

As a frequent traveler, I am delighted that most hotels are doing a good job with environmental issues such as water conservation and energy-use reduction. I appreciate any material choices that can make my stay comfortable and affordable. As a professional in the vinyl industry, I applaud them for choosing a material that meets all of our goals. 

3 Key Benefits of PVC Wiring



3 Key Benefits of PVC Wiring

May 2016

We’re in an age of wiring. Just look at the cables running through your home or office. You likely have wires supplying your Internet access. Wires (and old wires!) for your phone lines. Wires for electricity. And with the Internet of Things promising to bring us “wireless” connectivity of devices as diverse as smartphones, refrigerators and nanny cams, we’re looking at a landscape of even more wires. All before we even look at the network of communications cables connecting our homes, our cities, our cars and everything else.

Here’s the thing: you have a choice of wiring. And choices have consequences. Like sustainability. And life vs. death – or, more precisely, your chances of surviving a building fire in one piece.

PVC is a smart choice for wiring. Here are three reasons why.

  1. PVC cable components give you time to get out the door. Dave Kiddoo, executive director of the Communications Cable & Connectivity Association, told The Vinyl Institute that the release of chloride and other toxic chemicals is not the main thing to worry about in a fire. “These fumes are only toxic when you get to an extremely high degree of heat. By that time, you’ve likely already died from the intense heat and flames from the burning of other building furnishings and fixtures.” PVC’s are inherently resistant to ignition, so PVC cable components will limit and slow down the spread of a fire throughout the building and limit the cables to act as a fuse. Plus, specialized PVC compounds include ingredients for smoke suppression as well as additional flame-retardant properties. All of which does something critical: it gives you time to get out, and fire-fighters time to do their jobs. 
  2. PVC is recyclable. While naysayers may claim that PVC is not environmentally sustainable, the reality is that 1 billion pounds of pre- and post-consumer PVC is recycled annually in North America alone. In fact, a good percentage is recycled back into wire and cable. Contrast that with halogen-free wiring, which is not recyclable within their original applications. 
  3. PVC wiring is efficient to produce. Because of the chemical makeup of PVC, it is a polymer that can be produced with a lot less energy than many alternative materials. Coupled with its inherent flame-retardant qualities, you need to add a lot fewer ingredients to make PVC work effectively in producing wires and cables. Kiddoo notes that halogen-free wiring is more difficult and expensive to produce – using more electricity and water in the process as well as slower production line speeds – because you need to add a number of additional materials in order to make it viable. “PVC is so much easier and more forgiving to process,” he says, “and it can be melted and extruded into different shapes more efficiently with a minimal amount of energy.” 

Finally, Kiddoo says that PVC is uniquely suited for use in network communications cable. He explains that “Specialty PVC is typically the outer jacket material that provides flame and smoke resistance as well as the flexibility and physical integrity required. Inside, many cable designs are also PVC-insulated. And, today, nothing operates without high-value cable.” Want more examples? Think of Google, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon data farms, those warehouses of cables that connect us to pretty much everything.  Even “wireless” contains additional cables to each of those transmitters!  Kiddoo notes, “Most cables and connectivity components contain PVC because of its flexibility and its resistance to heat and fire.” 

New Cultural Transformation Supported by Vinyl Products


New Cultural Transformation Supported by Vinyl Products

Jane Rohde - Oct 2014

A brand new Adult Day Care facility has just opened in Baltimore, Md., and it is chock full of vinyl products to support the durability, maintenance, and aesthetic needs of this heavily utilized center.  The adult day care model can no longer be associated with providing services in the “old church basement,” as adult day care is an important part of the on-going continuum of care for our aging population.

The Center is licensed for 90 participants, some of who, upon arriving from their existing center, shed a few joyful tears at seeing the completed project.  The residents were moved from an older farmhouse setting, which was homey, but presented certain challenges that didn’t support the participant and staff needs like the new center.

The new design provides more open spaces, allowing staff to easily monitor the needs of the residents.  It has also created new areas for activities designed for different portions of the care population.  Utilizing vinyl finishes assisted in creating areas within a larger open building plan.  Vinyl plank flooring from Patcraft and vinyl backed carpet from Tandus were specified, with special care taken to provide “zero” transitions between materials to allow for ambulation and use of assistive devices.  The design reduced, and in some cases eliminated, obstacles for wheelchairs and potential tripping hazards.

The seating in the dining and activity rooms are made from extruded vinyl, manufactured by Kwalu, and the table tops are a 3D laminate utilizing a vinyl wood film provided by Leisters Contract Furniture.  In this case, the use of vinyl provides strength and durability to furniture that can last decade.  Many of the chair seats include vinyl upholstery combined with a textile to provide texture and contrast between the seats and the backs of the dining and activity chairs.  The chair seat is upholstered in a Mayer vinyl and allows staff to easily clean surfaces without the use of harsh cleaning products that impact indoor air quality.

Accent walls compliment the vinyl backed carpet and Kwalu seating within the activity space that views the adjacent computer stations.  The column trim, the computer station panels, and the handrails are all thermal fused vinyl manufactured by Spectrim.

Vinyl products were utilized throughout the interior and exterior of the renovated industrial park building.  The finishing touches are being completed on the exterior and the garden is being installed for the official opening on September 23, 2014. The exterior cladding is a combination of vinyl and rice husks to create a synthetic wood product which makes use of an otherwise useless byproduct of rice processing.  The material is also used for the ceiling of the entry canopy.

On top of the canopy, trays and drainage have been provided to create a vegetated roofing surface.  The garden fencing is a vinyl product, and the landscaping includes rain gardens for storm water management as part of the infrastructure.  In order to achieve a garden space, permeable paving was used to allow for water drainage to meet the additional storm water management requirements. The completion of the Adult Day Care Center will make a substantial difference in many participants’ lives.  Vinyl products provided not only the necessary durability and long building service life, but also provides an appropriate aesthetic for those being served.

Wall-to-Wall Safety: How Innovative Vinyl Products Protect From Flooding and Noise


Wall-to-Wall Safety: How Innovative Vinyl Products Protect From Flooding and Noise

Terry Murphy - Sep 2014

The reason architects must be licensed to practice is that they are granted a ‘monopoly’ by the state to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare when it comes to the design, construction and maintenance of the built environment. The state licensing boards require continuing education for design professionals so they will be able to keep up-to-date with current trends and new practices affecting their profession and the public they serve.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) tracks the learning progress of its members by maintaining continuing education transcripts for them. They are required to get 18 learning unit hours each year, and 12 of those hours are required to be L.U. credits in in the area of Health Safety and Welfare (HSW). This is defined as the testing topics on the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) focused in this important area. As you might suspect, courses qualifying for HSW hours are in high demand because not all courses qualify, and it is sometimes tough for architects to get all their required HSW hours each year.

For many years The Vinyl Institute has responded to this educational need by presenting courses to architects and other design professionals throughout the country. Our progress and development in this area continues, and we have two new courses registered with AIA, both of which are approved for HSW credit.

As I engaged in a conversation recently with AIA about potential HSW topics, I started thinking about safety and how vinyl products play a role. There are many vinyl product applications that contribute to safety. This week I would like to introduce you to a couple of applications that are great examples in this category.

PVC Seawall Systems:

If you have ever spent any time in a coastal area, you are probably familiar with seawalls constructed along the shoreline. They are used to protect structures from storm surge flooding and to prevent damaging coastal erosion. They are also used in floodplain management. Historically sea walls have been constructed from steel, concrete, pressure treated lumber, soil and riprap (broken rock).

PVC is a relatively new material for this application. It was studied and initially approached with some caution by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. An interim report issued in 2005 recognized the benefits of PVC seawalls. When compared to more traditional construction methods, PVC seawalls were found not to crack like concrete, rot like wood, or corrode like steel. The material is also resistant to damage from marine organisms and insects.

The Corps report showed promise for vinyl seawalls: “PVC sheet piles are a viable alternative to steel with multiple benefits, but with some limitations. The lower manufacturing cost combined with the lighter weight of sections for easier transportation and handling and reduced size of equipment required for installation translates to a net reduction in construction cost. A secondary benefit of PVC is its non-corrosive nature…PVC floodwalls can be just as effective as a steel system.”

The report stressed the importance of providing UV protection for all exposed vinyl surfaces. It also noted the longevity and durability provided by vinyl. Manufacturers have indicated that these seawall products can last at least 50 years in typical applications. This compares favorably with most other materials used in these applications. Test results on material strength, fatigue, and interlock strength were all noted in the report.

PVC floodwalls are not intended for hurricane flood protection but they would be expected to survive such severe storm exposure. As a matter of fact, when I did a program for architects in San Juan, Puerto Rico on extreme weather, a seawall company I spoke with said that they had experienced no catastrophic failures of their installed sea walls during hurricane Katrina.

PVC Sound and Noise Barrier Walls:

We experience the world in part through sound. But when sound is unwanted it becomes noise. And excessive noise is more than just irritating, it can be a hazard. That’s where sound walls or noise barrier walls come into play. Sound walls are being used in commercial, industrial, transportation, military and roof-top mechanical installations. In researching this topic I have found two different types of systems. One absorbs noise, and the other blocks and reflects it.

The absorption systems work by trapping sound energy in acoustical fiber batts which are enclosed in a PVC shell. Sound energy is conveyed through vibrating air molecules so when the vibrations come in contact with the fiber material it is dampened and absorbed. The product in this illustration is described to have a noise reduction coefficient rating of 1.0, meaning it absorbs essentially all of the acoustical energy hitting the panel, with little to no reflection. Products like this can be used to surround mechanical equipment.

The other type of system, shown in this illustration, blocks and reflects sound energy. I was especially intrigued with this application when I started my research. Highway and transportation barriers make up a small category, but one that is growing as cost and performance benefits are recognized.

I spoke with Dale Gaston, the Vice President of AIL Sound Walls, maker of this system. He sent me a case study done for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). This installation is along I-75 in Macon, GA. Originally GDOT planned to have steel walls installed on both sides of the interstate highway. Instead, they installed a PVC absorptive wall on only one side saving significantly on cost. This barrier is described as having a STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating of up to 36.

The Georgia’s DOT was also pleased with the fact that the system enabled longer panel lengths to be installed, which in turn meant fewer post holes had to be dug, and less lifting equipment was required. GDOT has specified PVC Sound walls in future projects.

For more information the AIL Sound Walls website.

Vinyl Graphics Support Retirement Actitivies



Vinyl Graphics Support Retirement Actitivies

Jane Rohde - Jul 2013

The Armed Forces Retirement Home located in Gulfport, Miss. was built to replace the facility that was destroyed during Katrina and now provides a home for approximately 500 residents; all retired military. 

The innovative spaces include all types of vinyl graphics that support everything from wayfinding throughout the lively community, creating imaging that supports activities provided to the residents, to honoring veterans and their service to the United States.  The community includes independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing facilities; including the innovative household model for extended care. 

Below, you’ll find several images of the facility that serve to brighten the space and compliment the character of its residents. 

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