Guest Column - May/June 2005
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Vital to Be Versatile

Increased demand leads to need for multipurpose sports flooring

By Robin Traum


Think sports and safety

You have established you need a floor for sports. Think about which sports will be played most often and what they require. Performance is essential. Your teams want to know the ball will actually bounce as high or where they expect it to be. You want to be sure that the floor will wear evenly and does not have dead spots and that the surface feel will not change over time.

Another critical characteristic for the surface is the proper coefficient of friction. That will minimize slipping and sliding and allow for controlled foot movements especially if there's going to be stop-and-go running.

One sport-flooring expert considers the most important attribute of a sports multipurpose floor its ability to prevent injuries. That's a criterion that can be applied across the board for any participant whether at a sporting event, book fair or graduation. Think about the safety of the floors under consideration. Many leg and foot injuries are the result of the surface the person falls on. A forgiving surface that provides shock absorption is likely to lessen the number of injuries. It also helps if the surface of the floor is specially treated to reduce the incidence of friction burns.

Remember durability, comfort and maintenance

Don't forget about comfort and those people who may be standing on the floor for long periods of time, whether singing in a chorus, coaching a team, giving a speech or explaining a science project. Think about the objects that might be placed on the floor such as benches, tables, pianos, chairs or stage scenery. The floor should be versatile, durable and resist indentation.

Durability is important. Not everyone will be wearing athletic shoes. Can people with other types of footwear walk across the surfaces you are considering without leaving marks or requiring a floor cover?

It's extremely important to understand the varying maintenance needs. It pays off with a more attractive, longer-lasting and safer surface. A clean floor can reduce the possibility of slipping. Floors create impressions by their appearance and performance. If your facility cannot fund the maintenance properly, that will impact the life span of the floor.

The incorrect choice of cleaning methods can destroy a floor before the end of its expected life span—so can skipping needed maintenance. Make sure not only you but also the staff understands what is required to keep the floor in optimal condition. Ask about the daily, biweekly, and if necessary, annual and major maintenance requirements. Find out how long the processes take and whether you will need to schedule programs for another location for extended periods of time. After finding out the installation costs, prepare a life cycle analysis to help you and colleagues understand what the different floors under evaluation will cost over a period of years in terms of money and time.

Choosing the right multipurpose sports floor for a facility requires an investment of time and consideration of different opinions. By going through the process thoroughly, when the installation is complete you will have an outstanding surface for multiple uses that provides safety and comfort and can be maintained easily.

Robin Traum is a public-relations consultant for Taraflex Sports Flooring by Gerflor. For more information, visit at www.gerflortaraflex.com.