A materials guide for the veterinary facility

A materials guide for the veterinary facility

Dec 01, 2004
By dvm360.com staff

Materials guide for veterinarians

BDA Architecture/Wayne Usiak & Associates
9016 Washington St. N.E., Albuquerque, NM 871125
(505) 822-0282

A materials guide for the veterinary facility

Interior finishes are among the most difficult and controversial areas of animal hospital design and construction. The following list of materials, some guidelines and/or limitations for their use, and a partial list of manufacturers are provided for your use. While these materials are proven performers, success in your design and construction projects will depend on several factors. Local representation of the manufacturers; trained, available craftsmen; and competent local dealers are all essential to success. Proper material selection, appropriate substrate and preparation, and correct installation practices and accessories must also be considered. Manufacturers listed are not necessarily the only acceptable proprietors and they are not receiving my personal endorsement, but they have been used successfully on previous projects. You are welcome to contact me at any time for additional information or opinions on these or other materials and suppliers. — Wayne Usiak

Wall finishes

The least expensive and easiest to apply wall finish is paint. Paint finishes range from acrylic latex and enamel to epoxy. Paints have the added advantage of being easily repaired or changed in color. Their major disadvantage is durability. Most are easily scratched, particularly when applied over gypsum board, the most common wall substrate. In paint application, substrate preparation is always a key issue, as wall flaws usually telegraph through, and successful bonding relies on correct preparation.

Vinyl wall coverings should be classified as Type II to be suitable for veterinary facilities. These wall coverings are scrubbable; durable; relatively scratch resistant; and come in a wide range of colors, textures, and designs.

Sheet plastics (acrovyn, kydex) are up to 1/8" thick solid sheets typically sold in 4-foot-wide sheets that are 8, 10, or 12 feet long. They are glued to the wall and provide excellent scratch and impact resistance. Up to 50 colors (all solid) are available.

Plastic laminates can be applied directly to the wall or to wood sheets and then to the wall. They are offered in numerous decorative options and are highly durable.
Ceramic tile can be purchased with glazed, matte, or porcelain finishes. It is very durable, moisture resistant, and design flexible. Tiles are available in 1 x 1, 2 x 2, 3 x 3, 4 x 4, 6 x 6, 8 x 8, and 1-foot squares.

Fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) board is available in 4-foot sheets that are 8, 10, or 12 feet long. It is roughly 1/16" thick and is usually a pebble texture surface. Colors are typically white, beige, and gray; a full line of corner and edge trims are also available. It is often used in commercial kitchens because of its durable, readily cleanable, hosable surface finish.

Paint on concrete blockprime coatPPG 
  • block filler with sealer finish coat
Sherwin Williams 
  • vinyl acrylic latex paint
    (normal use) 
Pratte + Lambert 
  • epoxy paint (wet areas)
Paint on gypsum board  same as above 
  • general: 
acrylic latex semi-gloss
or eggshell 
  • mild moisture resistance: 
one part ester epoxy  
  • wet or abrasive resistance:
two part catalyzed epoxy  
  • contaminants (urine, etc):  
polyamide epoxy
chlorinated rubber 
moisture cureurethane
Vinyl wall coverings  Type II Vicrtex Koroseal 
Sheet plastics  .028-.125 thick, 4' x 10' sheets or 4' rolls Acrovyn
  • low pressure (melamine) 
  • high pressure  
Formica Wilsonart 
Ceramic tile  glazed, 2 x 2, 4 x 4American Olean 
 6 x 6, 8 x 8 Dal 
FRP4' x 8', 10', 12' sheetsKemlite 


Floors are probably the most critical finish of a veterinary facility. They are subject to constant abuse and maintenance. When selecting flooring, the following factors must be taken into consideration: wearing surface durability, joints (in seams and at wall intersections), slip resistance, urine resistance, stain resistance, scratch resistance, comfort underfoot, repairability, life cycle, color selection, substrate requirements, and cleanability. The order in which you rate these qualities is your decision. Virtually any floor material can be used in the veterinary hospital, and if installed and maintained correctly will suffice. Sheet vinyl products are used most often because they deliver good performance at a reasonable cost. Tile, since the development of porcelain with epoxy grout, is my favorite at this time because of its high performance and easy maintenance. Poured or troweled floors are usually good performers at a premium cost, but are extremely applicator dependent. Sealed concrete and vinyl composition tile are economy performers.

Vinyl composition tile12" x 12"Armstrong
 many jointsAzrock
 requires stripping/waxingTarkett
Sheet Vinyl 
  • covable, non-weldable
vinyl (seams)Armstrong-Seagate
  • covable, weldable
PVC (seamless)
6 ft. wide rolls
most require waxing
  • covable, weldable, cushioned
PVC (seamless)Tarkett-Acoustifloor
Ceramic, quarry tileuse epoxy grout
4 x 4, 6 x 6, 8 x 8
can be slippery
American Olean
Carpetingsolution dyed, anti-microbial
12' rolls
Porcelain Tileuse epoxy grout
matte finish, non-slip
8 x 8 best size, 12 x 12 available
cove base trim available
American Olean
Epoxy Grouturine resistantLaticrete
Concrete sealer"Seal Hard"
"Industrial Concrete Sealer"
Ashford Formula
L & M Chemical
Burke Concrete Co.
Cure Crete Chemical
  • vinyl
industry standard 4' or rollsJohnsonite
  • rubber
less shrinkage than vinyl 4' lengthsRoppe, Burke
  • vinyl, weldable
solvent welded, minimal color selectionVPI, Tarkett
Poured Epoxy Floors
  • Hallemite HEF, Deco Tred
1/8" shelf levelling quartz epoxyHallemite, Tenemec
  • Silikal
MMA compound, anti-microbialSilikal-Righter


The majority of ceilings in the veterinary hospital are gypsum board or acoustic lay in tile. Gypsum board ceilings provide a hard, durable, paintable surface. While they block sound leaving a room, they reverberate and amplify sound within the room. Acoustical tile ceilings are suspended in a metal grid hung by wires from the building structure. They are typically available in 2 x 2 or 2 x 4 panels 5/8 or 3/4 inches thick. Their advantages are sound absorbency and accessibility of everything above the ceiling by removing any tile. Mineral fiber tiles are available in a large variety of styles to suit any decor and perform well in both stopping sound transmission and being sound absorbent. Their biggest disadvantages are moisture absorption and brittleness. Fiberglass tiles are typically 2 x 4 with a washable vinyl face. They are excellent sound absorbers and can be hosed and scrubbed without absorbing moisture. They are less designer-oriented than mineral fiber tiles.

Tectum is a panel product made from excelsior in a binder material and formed into 3/4 to 3'' thick panels, 24 inches wide, in lengths up to 16 feet. These panels perform well acoustically and can be fastened directly to structural members.

Gypsum board  acrylic latex paint, flat  see wall paint 
Acoustical tile  
  • mineral fiber  
appearance tile
NRC: .50 - .60
STC: .35 - .39
LR1 (light reflectance)
2' x 4' or 2' x 2' 
(second look)
(bold look)
  • fiberglass 
NRC: .75 - .95
LR1 (light reflectance)
washable vinyl face
use in wet areas 
2' x 4'
  • wood 
1 x 6, 1 x 4, usually tung & grove 
aspen, cedar, pine
  • tectum 
Plastic laminate or wood
(good quality) 
wide selection of styles
Merrilat, Omni, or Horizon series 
Plastic laminate
exceptional accessories
Plastic laminate custom manufactured
AWL certified 
Plastic laminate most economical surface
hundreds of selections
Graniteenduring, custom fit
most expensive
Cold Spring Granite 
Solid surfacing homogenous, expensive
monolithic, no visible joints
Exterior Building Finish
Bricktraditional, lifetime material
regional economies apply
Concrete masonry (block) variety of colors, textures
can be structural or decorative 
Cement stucco  regionally effective,
many colors available
needs maintenance, repair 
El Ray 
Synthetic stucco sustains climatic extremes
moderately expensive
low/no maintenance
Vinyl siding almost universally available
economical, low maintenance
variety of design
choices available
Alcoa (average)
Wolverine (best)
Wood sidingpaintable or stainable
higher maintenance
higher maintenance
Cement siding competitive with vinyl
must be painted, durable
James Hardy 
Roofs (sloping)
Asphalt shinglemost economical
variety of design choice, colors
universally available,
Elk, Gaf
Metal painted or galvanized surface
steel or aluminum
lifetime roof
R panel (economy)
12''-36'' wide panels
standing seam (quality)
Tile cement or clay
variety of colors, styles
"upscale" appearance 
Roofs (low pitch-flat)
Asphalt  simplest, least expensive
multiple plys for effectiveness
u/v, weather susceptible
Modified asphalt  better u/v, weather extreme tolerant
39" sheets, many seams
hot asphalt or torch applied
Rubber large rubber sheets,
welded together
u/v and weather extreme resistant
good warranties available
Seating (waiting)
Wood/plastic laminate wall hung Plymold
Wood and metal/enamel wall hung and free standing Columbia
Cascade Co.
Game Time, Inc.
Central vacuum 
Remote canister, outlets quiet, flexible Lindsay
Trench drains 
Polymer concreteprefab sections with grate
easily cleaned
PVCnot presloped
Flushing drains 
Run drain one drain for up to 10 runs
use with trench drain
JR Smith
Anesthesia gas scavengers
Active gas scavenger central fan, remote outlets Summit Hill
Gas Vac