Feature Article - July/August 2006
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Special Supplement: Complete Guide to Sports Surfaces and Flooring

Something's Afoot

By Kara Spak

Hallways and birthdays

The lower-level hallways of The Centre of Elgin are covered with vinyl chloride tile, or VCT. The tiles are laid out in geometric patters and featured in rust and tan colors designed to imitate the look of marble.

VCT was chosen for one simple reason, Lawry says. It cost less.

"We would like to have extended the terrazzo in the main entryway," Lawry says. "Vinyl chloride tile was a budgetary issue."

Lawry says he wasn't disappointed with the final results, though. Though vinyl chloride tile doesn't provide the same look as terrazzo, it provided the consistency designers wanted through out the facility.

"They did an excellent job finding a material that matched the interior design plan," Lawry says. "This [type of] flooring was one of the lowest costs. You just lay it over the concrete slab. It was low-cost, low-maintenance."

Unlike the radial design of the terrazzo in The Centre of Elgin's two main entryways, the VCT has to be laid in a linear pattern; this limited the designers somewhat, he says.

Two of The Centre's most popular spaces are for birthday parties. In fact, birthday parties at The Centre were in such high demand and such a moneymaker for the facility that officials there converted one office meeting room into a second party room. Now they're hosting up to a dozen birthday parties at The Centre every weekend.

The flooring in the two birthday party rooms, as well as two arts-and-crafts rooms and the ceramics room, are VCT. The birthday rooms have 12-inch tiles made of vinyl chloride, while the hallways are composed of 16-inch VCT. Unlike the hallways, though, a different set of factors guided the decision to use this lower-cost material in the party and craft rooms.

"This was not a budget decision—you want something easier to clean, easier to maintain," Lawry says. "We chose vinyl initially in these rooms for the maintainability."

VCT also is found bordering the tap room's maple floor. This provides a safe place for dance students to change from street shoes to dance shoes.

The locker rooms—times they are a' changing

Not every floor in The Centre of Elgin was as successful as the gymnasium or birthday party rooms. The staff is in the process of changing the floors in both the upstairs and downstairs locker rooms.

Downstairs, the locker rooms are open to everyone that uses The Centre, even non-members. The locker rooms are adjacent from the hallway across from the racquetball courts or from the swimming pool area. The floors in both the swimming pool area and in the locker room are a rust-colored concrete.

That's about to change, and the dirty black streaks all over the floor are the reason.

"The dyed concrete floor is very hard to keep clean," Lawry says. "It's a really porous surface."

He says that though the floor looks dirty, it was freshly scrubbed.

"The floor is clean," he says, noting the dirt is ground in. Facility officials plan to put a 1/8-inch-thick layer of epoxy to help keep the dirt out. The epoxy will be applied by paint rollers, which is a simple process, costing about about $30,000.

The choice for the dyed concrete floors, he says, was 100 percent about cost.

"Ideally we would want ceramic tile for the pool," he says, noting that the area surrounding The Centre's three pools—a zero-depth entry leisure pool, a lap pool and a pool with a slide—had a cleaner appearance because of the mostly bare feet wandering on the concrete around those parts.

"If budget weren't an option, we would have done ceramic tiles," he says. "And the budget is guiding putting the epoxy down."

He says at this point the pool deck is clean enough to skip the epoxy coat. One day, though, the concrete may require it. And that is going to shut the pool down while the epoxy is applied.

Next to the fitness area on The Centre of Elgin's second floor are members-only locker rooms. Seeking a slightly more upscale look and featuring amenities like whirlpools, a steam room and bigger, wooden lockers, planners selected a special low-nap synthetic (not woven) carpet because it resists both water and mildew.

This locker room surface, though, has the same basic problem as the concrete found on the locker rooms in the swimming pool area: It holds dirt. Now the staff is planning to pull out the low-nap carpet and replace it with regular carpet.

"If I had to do it over, I would go with regular carpet," Lawry says. "Get it with a urethane backing, and it resists moisture. And it is cheaper to replace regular carpet than low-nap carpet."

In contrast, two smaller restrooms located near the banquet facility feature small ceramic tiles throughout.

"We went a little more upscale on the bathrooms," Lawry says, noting that wedding receptions and other events are held in the ballroom.