Feature Article - March 2019
Find a printable version here

Select Your Surface

Sports & Fitness Flooring Fundamentals for Your Facility

By Rick Dandes


Court Sense

With indoor court applications, you still want to know what people are going to do in that space, Barker said. In many cases, people are using a court as a multi-activity court. Sometimes the space is needed to handle a group fitness class or maybe an event like a high school assembly where chairs are rolled out. Court spaces are often flex space for a facility.

"In such instances," he said, "you need a flooring that can handle the abuse, such as a rubber or vinyl floor that gives a visual aesthetic of a wood grain. And yet you are getting all the benefits of a rubberized surface. If you drag something across a hardwood court, you will damage it. If you have a floor that is a little bit more durable and forgiving to those point loads and rolling loads, it will stand the abuse."

When considering different court surfaces, there are different grade options. "What that really refers to," Barker said, "is the amount of force reduction that a court has. A 'Class 1' sports court will have lower amounts of force reduction. That means it is a firmer floor. Think always about levels of firmness. In most court applications you need a Class 1 for multipurpose, which has to handle a lot of abuse; a Class 2 floor won't withstand heavy rolling loads or abuse."

Wood courts, Thornton said, "will always be dedicated to competitive game play. In high school, college and the pros, you will always see wood for basketball, and that will never change. However, the propensity for the use of synthetics has grown dramatically in the past 20 years as gyms have become available for multiple uses. That's where synthetics really shine. They are multipurpose."

For multipurpose non-court activities, synthetics are absolutely the way to go, Thornton said. "What is rapidly growing in the market and has been for the past 20 years are cushion vinyls. They will have a factory applied polyurethane finish on them, so you are not going to have refinishing. It's a great way to save on maintenance. With cushion vinyls you can get the wood grain look, which is attractive. You can do a lot with vinyls."

On a basketball court with a wooden floor, you want shock absorption, but you don't want it to be like a trampoline either, Hayes said. "We don't want the floor going into motion because when we have court activities such as basketball and volleyball, you have several people in a concentrated space on the floor. What you want in a court space is to control the movement of that floor in such a way that it still provides benefits to the users, but has no negative effects to that user. This is one of the industry goals in developing floors: how to get the floor to perform at its optimal level for each person in their space and time in any given area on that court."