Feature Article - July/August 2004
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Special Supplement:
Recreation Management’s Complete Guide to Sports Surfaces and Flooring

By Margaret Ahrweiler



EXCUSE ME, BUT DO YOU SPEAK FLOOR?

Studying your vocabulary can take you far in the hunt for the right surface. If you understand these terms, you can better understand what a manufacturer is trying to tell you—or sell you—and communicate more effectively with your building team.

POINT ELASTIC SURFACE

A surface that bends at the point of pressure and absorbs energy. Most synthetic surfaces belong to this category.

AREA ELASTIC SURFACE

A rigid, nonbending surface that yields gradually to pressure and can return energy, such as wood floors

COMPOSITE SURFACE

A surface with characteristics of both point and area elasticity, often a synthetic surface over wood

RESILIENCE

A floor's ability to bend or give; synthetic surfaces often have greater resiliency than wood.

MOISTURE CONTENT

The weight of water contained in wood flooring, as a percentage of a kiln-dried sample

SLEEPER SYSTEM

Wood flooring system where the wood strips are installed atop strips of wood studs

PANEL SYSTEM

Wood flooring system where the wood strips are installed atop sheets of other material, often plywood

ANCHORED SYSTEM

Wood flooring system where the wood strips are installed atop sheets of other materials, often plywood, with 2-by-3 "sleepers" under the plywood, then mechanically attached to the subsurface

ACCLIMATIZATION

The process where wood flooring materials must sit in the facility for a number of days to adjust to moisture levels

PREFABRICATED SHEET SYSTEMS OR SHEET GOODS

Synthetic flooring manufactured off site and delivered in rolls or sheets

STANDARD DEFORMATION

The depth to which a floor indents under a load of weight

DEFORMATION CONTROL

The spread of a deformation, or the area it covers, when a floor indents under a load of weight

FORCE REDUCTION

The ability of a sports floor to absorb the shock of impact, compared to a nonresilient floor

DUROMETER

This measures surface hardness. Its value is expressed as "Shore A." A synthetic floor may have a durometer of 55 Shore A; the higher the number, the softer the floor.

EDPM

Ethylene propylene diene monomer, a type of synthetic rubber flooring that comes in granule form

SBR

Styrene butadiene rubber, another granulized form of synthetic rubber

PVC

Polyvinyl chloride, a common form of synthetic flooring that, yes, is the same stuff that makes up your plumbing pipes.

POLYPROPYLENE

Another form of plastic, often used for flooring squares or tiles

SLIDING BEHAVIOR

The distance a floor can permit an athlete's foot to turn or purposely slide, while preventing uncontrolled sliding. DIN standards require floors to have a sliding distance of 0.4 to 0.6 meters.

CAST-IN-PLACE SYSTEMS

Also known as poured-in-place or full-pour systems, these are synthetic flooring systems created on site by covering the floor in a liquid that hardens into a seam-free surface.

VULCANIZED RUBBER

This can be the real thing: natural rubber used for point-elastic surfaces. Technically, rubber is not a synthetic, but this type of flooring falls under the synthetic category, since it's not wood. Synthetic vulcanized rubber also exists.