Feature Article - March 2018
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Surface Area

Options Abound for Indoor Sports Flooring & Fitness Surfaces

By Deborah L. Vence

What to Consider

There are some things to consider when purchasing indoor sports flooring.

"First, what surface will be suitable for your facility needs? Will only athletic activity take place on the court, or will it be used for meetings or other events, requiring a more durable option?" Moller said.

Also, "Which sports will need to be played on your court? Modular and wood floors offer multi-game options, making for easy conversions between sports. Initial investment, offered product warranty, and weekly and annual maintenance costs will also need to be taken into consideration," he said.

Hayes suggested that first and foremost, any owner must consider what type of activities will be taking place.

"After such activities have been identified, the owner can begin the process of selecting flooring solutions that can be considered as options for the space," Hayes said.

Similarly, Proud said the most important thing to consider is, "What is it being used for?"

Pad and pour flooring, for instance, is great for hosting multipurpose activities, and can be used as a sport court or to hold recreational events. "A lot of churches use this product because they are able to insert bleachers for sports events (without damaging the floor), and also use it for fellowship gatherings," Proud said. "This synthetic flooring also gives more options when it comes to customization."

Hardwood flooring can be tailored more toward "sport use" because of its ability to be easily damaged. Heavy traffic can result in scratches and scuffs, which hurt the integrity of the floor. Shoes, besides sneakers, could hurt the floor.

Barber said the biggest challenge with indoor applications is the emergence of acoustics as a major consideration. "The urban migration and related surge in multi-story buildings coupled with the location of the fitness centers moving from the basement to more desirable upper floors has showcased the inherent sound and vibration issues," he said. "This trend, coupled with the surge in Olympic lifting, is creating significant acoustical challenges with structure-borne noise. Selecting flooring that dampens the transmission of high and low frequency noise is critical to a successful outcome," Barber said.

Chris Chartrand, director of marketing for a Petrolia, Ontario, Canada-based company that specializes in the design, manufacture and installation of interior and exterior rubber surface tiles, said, "Rather than thinking of the facility and the surfacing as separate components, we encourage our customers to think of the entire facility and adjacent spaces when it comes to planning the design and layout."

Many factors must be taken into consideration long before choosing the flooring. "Many of these factors will determine which flooring is required in each area of your facility," Chartrand said. "Many well-designed facilities will have several different types of flooring throughout. This is largely dependent on the activity within each space."

In order to determine the most effective surfacing for your facility, you have to consider activity and usage within each area. "Will you have group fitness classes, heavy weightlifting areas, CrossFit, etc.? Why is this so important? Of course, you want to match up the right surface to the activity but let's take this one step further," he said. "Fitness facilities generate noise—a ton of noise. This is the number one concern for many facility owners today—noise pollution.

"Within any facility, you will have thumping music, circuit training, instructors yelling, group classes jumping and thumping, heavy weights falling to the floor and of course, the humming and vibration of treadmills and fitness equipment," he said.

All of these activities generate a considerable amount of audible structure-borne sound, which can be a serious concern for neighboring tenants, adjacent businesses and even your own members and staff.

"Be mindful of the types of exercises that will be performed on each surface. Is sound transfer going to be a concern? Are you on [a] main floor or an elevated floor? Be sure to investigate sound mitigation as part of your surfacing decision. Attenuating sound within a structure can be a very complex science as there are various types of sound transfer (i.e., airborne sound and impact sound, etc.)," he explained.

"Surfacing is only one part of this equation, and there are some excellent products on the market that can reduce the transfer of structure-borne sound by nearly 40 decibels (A 10-decibel reduction is the equivalent of a 50 percent reduction to the human ear)," he added. "Airborne sound also requires consideration. You will want to find ways to reduce the transfer of airborne sound wherever possible. Consider insulation, ductwork, acoustical sealant around joints and points of contact between walls and floors, etc."