How things wear out…..Understanding Patterns of Usage

Worn Out!

I have always found the way we use things to be fascinating.  From this interest, I’ve observed patterns of wear and usage. I love watching and analyzing. Partly for practical purposes, but also to see the aesthetic affects these special characteristics that emerge need to be addressed during design to prevent damage and prolong utility.  For instance when we have the corner of the counter-top we understand that it will be more subject to chipping by the friction and impact of traffic, tools and usage. Ever wonder why rounded corners do more than just protect you from scratches?

Battling wear and tear

When we look at patterns of vehicular traffic, we know this that stop signs and the breaking action of cars will cause more abrasion on the surface of the roadway shortly before the stop sign, making the top surface more vulnerable to weather and water infiltration.  Even our cars and trucks exhibit this in the form of tire wear: we drive on the right side of the road and our streets are generally higher in the middle (to shed water to the curb) so the car leans slightly to the right as one is driving which puts extra weight on the right side of the tires. This creates the need to rotate the tires in a certain pattern for best wear.

We also note this from the frequency of repairs to certain plumbing areas that friction and scouring will lead to the replacement of the undersink  “P” traps because of the nature of the water born particles rubbing against the inside of the pipes.  When the walk up stairs, we notice that the tip of the stair, which is called the “nosing” , is prone to more friction due to the concentrated pressure that the shoe rubbing against the front of the stair and accordingly should be made more durable.

Other patterns of wear have elements that are related to direction and orientation.  For instance, many times on rooftops the south facing roof will experience greater material breakdown because of the solar orientation in our hemisphere than the north side would. Many a NYC brick parapet leans slightly to the north due to the daily differential expansion of materials caused by the sun.

When we look at the patterns of wear regarding flooring we can also see the impact that furniture placement and fixture placement will have on the floor itself as pedestrian traffic patterns cut well worn grooves into lobby carpets.  Even in a Men’s Bathroom, the urinals closest to the door gets used the most and are usually the ones that breakdown first.  

Human behavior’s affect on utility patterns is also very interesting.  For example, the population is approximately 90% right handed -this has a bearing on the location of many entrances to large stores. Because pedestrian circulation follows, all things being equal a right handed convention, door entrances are often favored slightly to the left of the space, which helps with sight-lines to products and signage.

Our designs take wear and use into high account. Let’s talk about how to make you project last longer. Call now 914 980 5532, ask for Steve!