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


One area where manufacturers, designers, contractors and owners all agree: Even a million-dollar, Grade One wood floor or an Olympic-quality field house track can look like a Home Depot project run amok without proper installation. While some surfaces, such as interlocking polypropylene tiles, can be installed by in-house maintenance teams, most surfaces are best left to the pros. But where to find the right installers?

For wood floors, the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association makes a good first stop. The trade group runs a registered installer program through its Web site, www.maplefloors.org. The site features a list of registered installers and, equally important, includes customer evaluations of those installers.

While no similar trade group exists for synthetic floors, the U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association can provide a list of members, along with links to design professionals. Its design and construction manual, considered an industry standard, includes a section on choosing a contractor. It also features photos of outstanding tracks, with information on the designers and installers.

With any type of surface, other facilities' experiences and references can help the most. Make sure to visit not just new facilities but older sites as well to see how the surfaces have withstood time and use.

Many manufacturers also provide a list of certified installers; many will only work with those on their approved list; others will only work with a contractor only if they've passed the manufacturers' own installation classes.

Next, talk with your architect or general contractor about flooring contractors. Their experiences may carry weight as well.

Finally, after choosing a flooring contractor, make sure to bring them into the building process to communicate and coordinate with the rest of the construction team—a glitch-free installation means a better floor.


Around its climbing wall, the University of Kansas installed a 1/4-inch rubberized surface with 2 inches of foam underneath.