Pre-K flooring conundrum occupies building committee

What kind of floor covering is most appropriate for pre-kindergartners?

That is the question the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee wrestled with at a special meeting on Thursday, March 24. The discussion revolved around vinyl composition tile, referred to as VCT, and a carpet-like material known as Powerbond used widely throughout Middlebrook and Wilton High schools.

Neither, however, is in the materials list for the renovation project in the pre-K wing of Miller-Driscoll School. What was decided on early in the planning stages was two-foot-by-two-foot carpet tiles. These are not a good choice, John Murphy, the district’s supervisor of buildings and grounds, said Thursday night, because in a classroom the flooring would have 1,300 feet of seams. He was in favor of using Powerbond, which comes in six-foot rolls with seams that can be welded.

It is a product, he said, that is easier and less costly to maintain throughout the year. Classrooms can be vacuumed to pick up dust on a regular basis, and for a more thorough cleaning, custodians can use hot water and an extractor.

A tile floor requires more time and manpower for annual stripping and waxing, he said. In addition, because it is a wet process, there is the possibility of water seeping under baseboards into drywall and insulation.

Teachers, as well as schools Superintendent Kevin Smith, voiced a preference for tile. Smith said he was concerned that Powerbond traps dust, and even though it can be vacuumed, he asked, “Do they get to it every day? In a classroom, I want the custodians to see the dirt so they can clean it.”

Chris Burney, Wilton’s director of facilities and energy, said “people prefer VCT because it can be cleaned and shined,” giving the perception of cleanliness.

The concern is that young children have accidents of all sorts, and which is the best product under those circumstances?

Murphy said the custodial crew has spill kits, which include hot water extraction and disinfectant. Powerbond can be cleaned immediately and will dry overnight.

As for durability, Burney said that “assiduously maintained,” VCT will last indefinitely. Powerbond, or any carpet-like material, will likely get replaced before it wears out.

First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice, who was also at the meeting, suggested the committee cost out each of the options over 25 years.

Because of the six- to eight-week lead time for ordering materials, the committee will make a decision at its next meeting, to ensure work can be done over the summer.

The next meeting is Thursday, April 7, at 5 p.m. in the Wilton High School Professional Library Mezzanine.