Supplement Feature - October 2015
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What's Under Foot?

The Basics of Indoor Sports, Fitness & Recreation Flooring

By Joe Bush


"We're used in place of a hardwood floor—not everybody can afford one," Martini said. "We occupy a space on the lower end of the food chain, putting wood at the top. That market is always looking for alternatives, and whether they're renovating or building from scratch, money is tight. They're always looking for a way to have a nice effective floor, but also be responsible to their benefactors."

Jeff Vance, global sales manager for another interlocking synthetic sport floor tile company based in Salt Lake City, said it's not only repair that is quick. From the first customer contact to finished installation, it can take just six to eight weeks, he said, and some projects have boasted start-to-finish times of three weeks.

"Once an agreement has been reached, we custom-build their sports flooring, ship it out and get it installed," Vance said. "Complete installation usually only takes one to three days."

He said before that first call, facility operators should have a checklist of factors to help them narrow their flooring search: budget; design usage—what sports are being played; level of play—is it children, youth, adults, recreation, collegiate-level; expected life cycle; difficulty of maintenance; any particular loading issues; desire for "green products"; concerns with installation or eventual resurfacing or replacement; concerns with sub-surface; aesthetics and acoustics.

Vance said he has noticed several trends in indoor recreational flooring, like:

  • More green products
  • Low or zero Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) products
  • Installation methods and products that are better suited to "fast track" construction practices
  • Products and methods capable of being installed over concrete slabs with moisture and vapor emission issues
  • Products that are easier to maintain
  • Products with better performance characteristics, such as force reduction
  • Better methods to withstand point and rolling load issues

A Lancaster, Pa.-based manufacturer of athletic flooring reflects several of these trends: The company uses recycled rubber for its flooring, claiming to be the largest user of scrap tire rubber in the United States; its products help earn points in two of six LEED certification categories; and the adhesive used delivers 50 percent lower VOCs than the most stringent industry standard.

Bo Barber, vice president of marketing and business development, said the company's newest product is a marriage of a vinyl top layer that looks like wood, available in three shades, bonded with a recycled rubber underlayment for cushioning and one-step installation. Barber said besides the appearance and ease of installation, this new product attracts customers because of its multipurpose potential.

"On the sports side, it's ideal for basketball, yoga, Pilates, volleyball and cardio," he said. "It's attractive enough that it looks like a high-end floor you might find in an institutional setting like a library or school. It also performs very well when it comes to residual indentation and rolling cart or static loads.

"So, if this surface is installed in a community center, where you are playing a basketball game on Saturday morning, you can roll the bleachers up and into the corner for the spaghetti dinner later that night, and no indentations will have formed."