Supplement Feature - September 2008
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Choices in Indoor Sports Surfaces

By Sue Marquette Poremba


Renewable is becoming a buzz word in every facet of life these days, and it is no different when it comes to recreational facilities. The trend is toward "green" buildings, and that includes the type of flooring used.

"The sustainable characteristics of sports and multipurpose flooring start with the production process and its efficiency in reducing the use of natural resources and energy," Traum said. "Floors that do not add to the waste stream and contain recycled material draw an increasing amount of interest."

How the floor is installed is also important when focusing on sustainability. Facility managers may want to consider using low-VOC paints for any logos or markings put on the floor. Floor treatments used should emit less toxic fumes, as well.

Recycled rubber products have become a popular green flooring. These floors are most popular in weight and fitness areas, where strength and durability are crucial.

The floor itself isn't the only consideration when greening your facility. Consider your heating and cooling systems as well. Wood floors may need more specific HVAC controls than a synthetic floor. If temperature and humidity settings are not consistent enough, the floor can buckle or warp or the planks might separate.

"Resilient vinyl floors allow for systems that can be shut off or placed at lowered settings when the facility isn't in use," Traum explained, "and that can save money on energy costs."


When deciding on the type of flooring you want, you must also think about its durability and maintenance issues, Traum said.

"How many of the lower-ranked activities could be added without risking damage to the floor or requiring the additional purchase of a floor cover? How extensive are the maintenance requirements? Can the floor be kept in optimal condition without time-consuming procedures?" are some of the questions Traum said an owner should ask before making the final decision.

"Proper maintenance is essential for great-looking floors and retaining their original traction, shock absorption, ball bounce accuracy and other characteristics," Heney said, adding that wood flooring simply needs a daily sweeping, an annual recoating and every seven to 10 years depending on the use of the floor, a total resurfacing to keep it good as new. Depending on the type of synthetic floor, most of them can be cared for with regular sweeping and mopping.

If you are still unsure about which flooring type to choose, Heney suggested that the best thing to do is talk to the different manufacturers and the MFMA to get definitive answers to your questions. "We can answer questions on whether the concrete is dry enough to put down a floor or other issues with the installation," he said. "We're a resource for the end user and the architect to seek assistance or bounce ideas off of."

"No simple answer exists for the right type of indoor sports flooring," Traum said. "Each space is unique and knowing the planned uses, researching the different types of flooring and visiting similar facilities provides the best guide for making the right choice."

Mitchell agreed. "The scope of the activities needs to be the main determinant, so you get a floor that fits your needs, not just a floor you can afford."

But for Angel Devarez, the bottom line on his decision on his flooring is much more simple. "This floor does its job," he said. "It's comfortable. It's easy to maintain. And I would use it again for another facility floor."