Supplement Feature - September 2009
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Floor It!

Finding the Right Sports Flooring

By Richard Zowie

Synthetic Surfaces

For some applications, especially where ease of maintenance and flexibility are required, vinyl flooring is ideal. This was the case at the new Washington City Community Center in Washington City, Utah. The new 110,000-square-foot facility includes three separate full-size gyms, a walking/jogging track, a spinning/aerobics room, childcare center, rock-climbing wall and the largest indoor aquatic complex in the state of Utah. The gyms, track, aerobics room and childcare center all feature vinyl flooring with a foam subsurface designed for sports performance and multipurpose uses, with a similar surface used in the childcare center.

This multilayered surface, according to its manufacturer, gives both comfort and performance with an enhanced shock absorption rate of 35 percent. It is made from up to 43 percent recyclable material and can be completely recycled.

Architect Mark Wilson of Lehi, Utah-based Mark Wilson Architects, who provided architectural services for the new facility, said the decision was made to use synthetic flooring in these areas because of the value and quality of the product. It's also flexible enough to be used for many sports activities, as well as other purposes. Wilson, who has past experience with using the surface and lauds its benefits, said, "It has characteristics that I like. It's engineered to play like a wood floor with the same basketball bounce, but it's fairly maintenance-free, which the owners like."

The three floors used in the gyms have borders of black, green and blue. They're also used for indoor soccer games, basketball tournaments and even non-sporting events like trade shows.

Donn Hayes, the programs and special events director at the center, described the surface as a vinyl one attached over a foam undercurrent to give it a look of hardwood.

"It gives the feeling of a true gymnasium since gyms have [hardwood floors]," Hayes explained. "But it's not hardwood. It's a vinyl surface attached to a foam undercurrent that looks like wood floor."

What's more, Hayes added, it's better on the body's joints and provides more cushion and give. That's vital for the center, since many of its clients are senior citizens.

"We have a large senior population in the area," he said. "Seniors tend to have more knee and hip problems than most folks do. We try to target the market and take care of them."

Another reason they chose to go with a synthetic surface rather than hardwood at the Utah facility was a maintenance issue. With hardwood, Hayes said, every few years it has to be resealed and the lines repainted. Not the case with the synthetic flooring, which doesn't have to be refinished every few years.

Hayes and others in Washington, Utah, also like the surface because, as he described it, it's "very, very easy" to keep clean.

"We can run any machine over the top of it and know if red punch is dropped on it, it can be cleaned immediately and won't stain like a wooden floor," he said.