What type of flooring is most fireproof?

image of fire fighter running into a burning room

Fire safety is paramount for commercial spaces like offices or hospitality businesses.

This blog will explore the fire safety regulations for commercial flooring types such as carpet, hardwood, rubber, vinyl and linoleum flooring.


Why is fire safety flooring important for commercial businesses?

Businesses need to adhere to commercial flooring fire safety regulations to protect their employees, customers, and property. Fires can cause extensive damage and loss of life, so it is important to take steps to prevent them from happening.

In the event of a fire, the choice of flooring material plays a crucial role in helping to slow the spread of fire and smoke, giving people more time to escape and firefighters more time to extinguish the blaze.

General fire safety regulations for commercial flooring:

Fire safety regulations cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • The use of fire-retardant materials for flooring
  • The installation of fire alarms and sprinkler systems
  • The maintenance of fire exits and extinguishers
  • The training of employees on fire safety procedures

By following these regulations, commercial companies can help ensure the safety of everyone in their building.

Businesses not meeting fire safety regulations may have to pay hefty fines, legal trouble, and insurance issues. Therefore, it is in the best interest of companies to comply with all applicable fire safety regulations.

Commercial spaces must comply with local building codes, specifying requirements for flooring materials, installation methods and fire containment measures. Furthermore, all flooring materials must meet the ‘National Fire Safety Standards’ as set by the Fire Protection Association ( FPA )

Carpet Flooring and Fire Safety Regulations

Carpet flooring is a common choice in commercial spaces because of its aesthetics and comfortable feel underfoot, but before businesses install carpets, it’s crucial to understand the fire safety concerns.

Commercial-grade carpets often incorporate fire-resistance properties into their design; you should look for products rated as Class I or Class A, as these are less likely to contribute to the spread of flames in the event of a fire.

Proper installation methods are also vital for ensuring fire safety compliance with carpet flooring. This includes using fire-rated adhesives formulated to resist fire and heat, which prevents the carpet from being a fuel source in the event of a fire. Underlay materials with fire-resistant properties also serve as an additional layer of protection.

Hardwood and Laminate Flooring Fire Safety Regulations

Hardwood flooring is another popular choice known for its elegance and sophistication. Fire resistance can vary significantly among different wood species and laminate products.

Some hardwoods naturally possess fire-resistant qualities due to their density and composition, while others may be more liable to ignition. On the other hand, laminate flooring typically consists of a core and a top layer. To meet fire safety regulations, some flooring options may require the application of fire-retardant coatings or treatments.

Proper installation of hardwood and laminate flooring is essential for fire safety. Gaps or improper sealing between planks or tiles can act as chimneys, allowing fire to draw in oxygen and spread more quickly. Additionally, the smoke can travel through the gaps and fill a room more quickly, making it difficult for people to escape. It is important to have your hardwood or laminate flooring installed by a qualified professional flooring company to ensure it is installed correctly and safely.

hardwood laminate flooring installed in commercial office space with large windows

Rubber Flooring Fire Compliance

Rubber is a non-combustible material that typically does not support the spread of flames, so rubber flooring is often preferred for commercial spaces like warehouses.

Rubber flooring comes with a fire rating indicating their fire resistance level. This rating is crucial because it helps managers and installers select the right flooring. The fire rating is based on the flooring’s ability to resist the spread of flames and smoke. Flooring with a higher fire rating will be more resistant to fire and smoke, which can help to protect people and property in the event of a fire.

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and inspecting for damage or wear, ensures that the rubber flooring has fire-resistant properties over time. Furthermore, even though rubber flooring is a fire-resistant material, it can only protect against fire if it is installed correctly.

Dumbell on rubber gym flooring

Vinyl Flooring Fire Resistance

Vinyl flooring is a popular choice for commercial places because of its durability, easy maintenance and because it’s relatively inexpensive.

Most vinyl flooring is rated class III or IV, which means it is resistant to ignition and has wear layers made from a combination of polyvinyl chloride ( PVC ), plasticisers and stabilisers. These wear layers provide an added level of protection, which is fire-resistant and slows down the spread of fire.

It is important to maintain rubber flooring to ensure that it continues to provide the necessary level of fire protection. When rubber flooring is wet, it can be slippery, which can be a hazard in the event of a fire, as people may slip and fall while trying to evacuate the building.

Overall, rubber flooring is a good choice for fire safety. However, it is important to be aware of the potential concerns and take steps to address them.

adhesive free vinyl flooring for commercial kitchen

Linoleum Flooring Fire Safety

Linoleum flooring is an eco-friendly option for commercial spaces due to its natural composition and fire-resistant properties. It is primarily made from renewable materials such as linseed oil, wood flour/cork dust, pine rosin, and jute backing, all of which help to slow down the spread of fire.

Over time, linoleum may wear or develop cracks, compromising its fire-retardant qualities. Routine maintenance and addressing damage promptly will ensure that you preserve these properties and continue to comply with fire safety regulations.

So, linoleum is a great choice if you are looking for an eco-friendly, fire-resistant, and durable flooring option for your commercial space.

grey linoleum flooring in commercial building

Fire Safety Certificates For Flooring

As mentioned, complying with commercial flooring fire safety regulations is a necessity. To ensure that your selected flooring materials , here are some key certificates and standards to consider: 

  • EN 13501-1 Classification ( this European standard assigns a classification ranging from A1 to F. For flooring, a classification of at least Cfl-s1 or higher is ideal )
  • CE Marking ( this marking indicates the flooring complies with EU regulations ) 
  • BS 476 Fire Tests ( this includes varies fire tests that flooring materials must pass ) 
  • Building Regulations Compliance ( flooring materials must comply with regulations, specifically approved document B )

These certificates guarantee that the flooring material has undergone rigorous testing and meets safety guidelines. Keep in mind that flooring materials being compliant isn’t a one-time checkmark. Regular inspections and testing are essential to keep your space safe and in line with the rules.

Flooring For Fire-Prone Areas

The best type of fire-resistant flooring for a commercial business will depend on the business’s specific needs. It is essential to consult with a fire safety expert to choose the right flooring for your needs. 

Below, we have listed our recommendations for suitable flooring for different types of commercial businesses: 

Gyms: Rubber flooring is an excellent choice as it is exceptionally durable and fire-resistant. Furthermore, gyms must endure heavy equipment, so rubber flooring is a suitable choice as it can withstand the stress.

wooden flooring gym with bike and running machines

Hospitals: Hospitals require flooring that can maintain a high level of hygiene and safety as well as being fire-resistant, which is why linoleum is an ideal flooring option to ensure the safety of patients and staff. 

cleaning trolley for hallway

Office: while comfortable and aesthetic, carpet flooring should be chosen with caution as it’s not the most fire-resistant option. Instead, alternatives like vinyl or linoleum are safer, and their durability and ease of maintenance make them practical choices. 


Restaurants: many restaurant owners may opt for hardwood flooring due to its aesthetic appeal; however, it can pose a fire risk. Commercial kitchens experience heavy foot traffic, constant spills and exposure to grease and oils, so in order to be suitable and have high fire resistance, other flooring options like epoxy flooring and ceramic tile may be more appropriate. 

commercial kitchen with two chefs preparing food

Commercial Flooring Fire Safety

In conclusion, fire safety is a critical issue for commercial spaces, and businesses must take steps to comply with all applicable regulations. By choosing the right flooring materials and installing them correctly, companies can help slow the spread of fire and smoke in an emergency, giving people more time to escape and firefighters more time to extinguish the blaze.

It is important to note that fire safety regulations vary depending on the jurisdiction, so it is always best to consult a local fire inspector to ensure your business complies.

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