What's going on here? Courthouse ditches some of its “checkerboard” floors

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Neil Johnson
Monday, May 5, 2014

JANESVILLE—Officials hope new carpeting on the Rock County Courthouse's lower level floors will tie the space together.

What it is: Visitors may have noticed recently floors in high traffic areas of the courthouse addition's lower levels, including the hallways and entryways and public viewing areas in the clerk of courts and treasurer's offices, have looked a little bare lately.

Crews have been removing the alternating sections of carpet and tile installed in the courthouse addition when it was built in the 1990s. The plan back then was to create a contemporary but functional look.

The flooring hasn't held up so well in high-traffic areas of the courthouse—the hallways and public areas connecting the offices that Rock County General Services Manager Robert Leu says “hundreds” of residents can frequent each day.

“The carpet-tile-carpet-tile was part of the original architectural vision” for the courthouse addition, Leu said. “It' really a neat detail, but given our traffic and the dirt that comes in, it didn't work out great. You begin to think the 'new' courthouse is not so new anymore. Fourteen years of wear, and really it's shown.”

The main culprit: Cleaning crews would mop the tile, and that would spread dirty water to adjacent carpeting, staining it and leaving it “pretty threadbare,” Leu said.

Workers have removed the tile and old carpeting within the last two weeks, scarifying the floor underneath. At night, crews used machines to clean the bare floors. Last week, crews spent a night prepping the floor areas with a fast-drying sealer.

Late last week, workers installed 2-foot carpet squares.

The county did the same work last year in the main lobby area of the courthouse, Leu said. It's improved the area's look and absorbs people's footfalls better, he said.

The whole replacement project comes at a cost of $48,000, but the work being done this year—replacing much of the carpeting and tiles in the main treasurer's office and clerk of courts viewing rooms, will cost $28,000.

Leu said the courthouse's upper floors don't need the same work now because traffic there is not as high.

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