Guest Column - May 2008
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The Crucial Finishing Touch

By Tom Mitchell

After gluing down the rubber underlayment (thickness depends upon desired cushioning and budget), the mat is sealed, followed typically by two self-leveling pours of urethane. A pigmented urethane coating is then roller-applied. Game lines and artwork complete the installation. In the past, clear maintenance coats over the finished surface led to worries about slipperiness or the protective coating cracking/crazing because its stretch characteristics differed from the floors beneath. Again, Dutch formulators addressed these points with a better-protected, easier-to-clean floor with longer warranty.

Seamless construction remains one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of poured urethane along with its ability to be refurbished in 12 to 15 years with an over-pour "facelift" at half the cost of the original installation. While most urethane wear coatings are solvent-based, with troublesome fume issues and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), new innovations with water-borne coatings make these systems dramatically "greener."

A controlled environment is necessary for wood floors, and their maintenance is more involved; to keep a maple floor in top condition, budget around $.30 per square foot annually to screen and recoat, and roughly $1.50 per square foot every 10 years to sand and refinish. A properly-cared-for wood floor should last 60 years with annual rescreening and periodic sanding and refinishing. Synthetics usually need some refurbishing in 12 to 15 years, when they will require either total replacement or an over-pour. A walk-behind scrubber is a good investment, making the routine cleaning process go more smoothly and, with other attachments, can be used in other facility areas. A medium spectrum pad or brush with a good neutral cleaner should help maintain a floor in both appearance and playability.

Regarding site conditions required for proper installation of a new surface:

  • Concrete should be free of any curing compounds or sealers which could preclude proper adhesion. It should be at least 60 days old and have a flatness of 1/8 inches in 10 feet and a moisture level of 3 percent or lower.
  • Permanent power and HVAC systems should be on for two weeks minimum prior to installation.
  • Basketball backboards should be up, and inserts/sleeves for volleyball/tennis should be elevated above the concrete to the floor thickness.
  • If replacing an existing surface (carpet/VCT), the surface needs to be removed and the slab cleaned of adhesive residue or floor remnants by shotblasting or beadblasting to ensure proper adhesion of the new surface.


Tom Mitchell, general manager of the Synthetic Division of Action Floor Systems LLC, has 20 years of experience in the synthetic gym/multipurpose floor market. Action Floors also offers a wide variety of maple floors for the school, church and club market across the United States. For more information, visit