Feature Article - July 2007
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Special Supplement: Complete Guide to Sports & Recreation Surfaces

By Dana Carman

hen you're shopping for a new car, there's a lot of thought that goes into your final decision. Sure, there's lust at first sight: A shiny, brand-new luxury vehicle or sleek little sports car is appealing, but you can't base your decision only on the way it looks. You want to get in it, test-drive it, make sure the safety features are solid, check out the gas mileage and, most of all, make sure it will last you a long, long time.

After you buy your car, you want to protect your new investment. After all, who wants to put all that money in up front only to have to make continual, additional investments over the vehicle's lifetime? So you keep it clean, put the right gas in it, perform the required maintenance, let it warm up in the winter, take it easy on those brakes and drive it safely. Provided you do everything you can to keep it running properly, your car should last as long as you hoped it would with little additional cost. In other words, it meets all your needs.

It may not seem like the same thing, but choosing the right surface for your sports field, gymnasium, fitness facility or playground is very similar. Sure, there are shiny and sleek products on the market that may work for you, but the real test is making sure you're getting not only what you paid for, but a product that will last. The real test of any surface is the test of time for your particular needs. "How much use will the surface get?" and "What kind of use?" are two important first questions to answer. Obviously budget is a factor, but one that should be carefully thought through. Up-front, capital costs alone do not define the budget of the lifespan of a surface. Surfaces, like cars, are not designed to last forever, and maintenance and additional expenses should always be expected.

The options and considerations may seem overwhelming, but like any large purchase, be it a new floor in your home or a new swimming pool in your back yard, the key is to start by defining your facility's and your patrons' specific needs. A little research and a lot of careful planning can ensure you get the most play out of your surface.