Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.3 General Furnishings and Equipment

5.3.1 General Furnishings and Equipment Requirements Floors, Walls, and Ceilings

Floors, walls, and ceilings should be in good repair, and easy to clean when soiled. Only smooth, nonporous surfaces should be permitted in areas that are likely to be contaminated by body fluids or in areas used for activities involving food. The hand contact and splash areas of doors and walls should be covered with a finish that is at least as cleanable as an epoxy finish or enamel paint.

Floors should be free from cracks, bare concrete, dampness, splinters, sliding rugs, and uncovered telephone jacks or electrical outlets.

Carpeting should be clean, in good repair, nonflammable, and nontoxic.

Each bathroom, toilet room, and shower room floor and wall should be impervious to water up to a height of five feet and capable of being kept in a clean and sanitary condition.

All public bathrooms should be constructed of materials that are impervious to moisture, bacteria, mold, or fungus growth. The floor-to-wall joints should be constructed to provide a sanitary cove with a minimum radius of three-eighths inch. Flooring material should be appropriate for bathroom use (e.g., vinyl sheet, ceramic tile, fiber-reinforced plastic, epoxy products). All wall surfaces within twenty-four inches of a water closet or urinal should be ceramic tile to a height of forty-eight inches (1).

Messy play and activities that lead to soiling of floors and walls is developmentally appropriate in all age groups, but especially among very young children, the same group that is most susceptible to infectious disease. These factors lead to soiling and contamination of floors and walls. A smooth, nonporous surface prevents deterioration and mold and is easier to clean and sanitize; therefore, helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases. To avoid transmission of disease within the group, and to maintain an environment that supports learning cleanliness as a value, all surfaces should be kept clean.

Cracked or porous floors cannot be kept clean and sanitary. Dampness promotes the growth of mold. Rugs without friction backing or underlayment and uncovered telephone jacks or electrical outlets in floors are tripping hazards. Damaged floors, walls or ceilings can expose underlying hazardous structural elements and materials. Surface materials must not pose health, safety, or fire hazards.

Carpeted floors are not smooth, and therefore, carpeting is not consistent with this standard, except for area carpets for activities that do not involve food or contact with body fluids. Many family child care homes and indoor playrooms of centers use wall-to-wall carpeting on the floor. Although carpeted floors may be more comfortable to walk and play on, smooth floor surfaces provide a better environment for children with allergies (2).

Washable rugs can be placed on smooth floor surfaces. By using friction backings or underlayment, removable and washable carpeting can be used on smooth floor surfaces safely.

When facilities use carpeting or sound-absorbing materials on walls and ceilings, these materials must not be used in areas where contamination with body fluids or food is likely because they are difficult to clean. Thus, carpeted walls should not be present around the diaper change areas, in toilet rooms, in food preparation areas, or where food is served.

Obtain ASTM D2859-06 Standard Test Method for Flammability of Finished Textile Floor Covering Materials, for flammability of finished materials from ASTM International. Ask the local fire marshal for fire safety code requirements.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. International Building Code. 2012. Section 1210 Toilet and Bathroom Requirements.
  2. Davis, J. L. Breathe easy: 5 ways to improve indoor air quality.