Feature Article - July/August 2004
Find a printable version here

Special Supplement:
Recreation Management’s Complete Guide to Sports Surfaces and Flooring

By Margaret Ahrweiler


On track

With indoor running tracks becoming a must for even the most modest community centers, facility planners are paying more attention to what they put down there. Tracks can perform faster or slower, depending on how much energy they return to the runner. Fast tracks can help increase runner performance but provide less cushioning. Slower tracks give more comfort to users' joints but won't speed up times. In deciding, the facility team must figure out what kind of people will use the track and for what purposes. Community tracks that mostly cater to walkers can skimp on floors somewhat, since impact is less of an issue, says TMP's Larson. Tracks that host competitions or cater to more intense training require different systems. At KU, Chappel learned that many of the students at the recreation facility regularly trained for marathons, so she looked for a surface that would pamper their feet, knees and ankles for long distances.

All wet

And where there's water, there's a specialized surface. In locker rooms and pool areas, surfaces must provide friction to prevent slipping and inhibit mold and mildew. Ceramic tile dominates in this area, for its performance and its range of offerings to meet a variety of budgets, Bean says. Other options include sealed concrete, either tooled for slip resistance or finished with a textured resin, or slip-proof vinyl tiles with welded seams. Whatever the surface, owners must make sure the product stays sealed, since cracks can breed leaks that spur mold and mildew growth.

A welcome entry

And while not technically a sport surface, the flooring in a facility's public spaces can make a strong first impression on users and serve as pickup or drop-off areas for the variety of gunk people can track onto a sport floor.

TMP's Bean recommends ceramic or vinyl tile to meet a variety of durability and aesthetics objectives, while handling heavy traffic. Other options include terrazzo or a quartz epoxy matrix. More importantly, every entry area needs mats, the unsung heroes in maintaining sport surfaces. Mats are a must to slough off the dirt, snow, slush, sand and everything else that users can track onto expensive floors.

Take it outside

Sport surface choices don't end at the door. Outside, planners face the same dizzying array of choices for tennis courts, skating surfaces, running tracks, playgrounds and athletic fields.