Supplement Feature - September 2011
Find a printable version here

Take It Inside

Cost, Maintenance, Performance Are Top Issues in Sports, Fitness Flooring

By Deborah L. Vence

Flooring Selection

When choosing fitness flooring, there are several popular options: rubber floors; cushion-backed PVC floors; and poured-in-place polyurethane floors.

"The thing that works the best is a rubber floor. It has better traffic abuse on it," Parisi said. "I do like the operational aspect of all three of those, and they clean equally well."

Meanwhile, for gyms and group exercise rooms, "Wood, maplewood systems work great," Voorhees said.

"A resilient wood floor system is generally what you would see in gyms, etc.," he said, adding that in weight fitness areas, where there is a lot of weight coming down on the floor, a floor's durability and toughness is important.

Voorhees added that when choosing a sports flooring system, considerations must include: use or activity within the space, performance, safety, durability, cost, longevity and aesthetics.

For example, for indoor basketball/volleyball courts, the most common and preferred floors for basketball and volleyball use are resilient wood floor systems.

"These systems are most commonly made up of flat grain maple strips sitting on top of individual resilient, cushioned pads or a continuous padded subfloor system. The two types of resilient wood systems are 'fixed resilient' and 'floating,'" he said.

Fixed resilient are generally the most performance-oriented systems on the market.

"The hardwood flooring is installed on top of plywood panels, sleepers or sometimes proprietary anchorage systems that are then separated from the concrete slab by a resilient, shock absorbing material (such as rubber or EPDM pads or a continuous cushion)," Voorhees explained. "These floor systems are physically anchored to the concrete subfloor, providing structural and dimensional stability to the entire surface. For basketball and volleyball, these systems not only offer shock absorption and resiliency, but also a higher level of stability.

"A floating system can be similar in makeup to the fixed resilient floor systems, except these floors are not anchored to the floor. The entire system rests on top of the resilient, shock-absorbing material and completely floats above the concrete subfloor," he explained. "These floors are great for shock absorption, but aren't necessarily as stable as the fixed resilient system. The floating systems are often less expensive than the fixed floors, but are great for recreational use. They are also commonly seen in group exercise rooms."

Voorhees pointed out that proper installation of a wood floor system is critical for the performance and the life of the floor. Factors to consider in specifying wood floors include humidity level, under-slab moisture, thermal expansion and specifying proper sealers.

"There are numerous multipurpose floor systems that are used for basketball and volleyball, which are capable of serving other activities. But, for surface friction, shock absorption, vertical deflection, area deflection and ball rebound, these systems are hard to beat," he added.