Guest Column - April 2009
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Multipurpose Flooring

Optimize Your Flooring

By Patricia Basileo

Finding Flooring Fit for Your Space

There are two basic surface options: permanent wood and synthetic. Each facility needs to weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which option is the most appropriate fit.

Hardwood (e.g., maple, beech, oak) is the established option for architects and specifiers. It has a visually attractive appeal, but can require constant and costly maintenance with re-sanding and sealing every few years. If waxes or incorrect seals are applied, it can also pose a significant slip hazard.

Specifiers should never use softwood (e.g., pine, fir, spruce) as an unprotected multipurpose surface because it is easily damaged and there is always the risk of splintering. However, it is an acceptable sub-surface because it offers relatively more "give" than a hardwood floor.

Currently the industry standard in multipurpose flooring is synthetics or flexible vinyl surfaces that can be unrolled over most surfaces for instant multipurpose floors. Vinyl flooring selections are easy to clean, durable and extremely convenient. Vinyl guarantees the cleanup will be simple and that the floor won't stay sticky.

Some facilities might not be able to afford the luxury of separate areas for each activity from the budget or space perspective. The solution may be vinyl flooring that can be easily transported and unrolled for use. If the basketball court doubles as space for ballet class, the ballet instructor will want to roll up the flooring once the class is finished for the day to protect it against wear and tear from athletic activities.

In addition, many floors can be easily assembled and disassembled for convenience and ease of use. Some manufacturers now supply flooring that easily clips into place, allowing for it to be used only when necessary. This type of flooring also provides historic facilities with an alternate option that doesn't damage the permanent structure.