A Model Floor

Sparta High School
Sparta, Wis.

Completed floor system at Sparta High School.

Excess moisture can wreak havoc with floors, which is exactly the problem Sparta High School in Sparta, Wis., faced when the synthetic floor started bubbling in spots throughout its gymnasium.

"Problems started happening immediately," says Marlin Phillips, superintendent of schools in Sparta. "Moisture was trapped under its surface, and the water had nowhere to go. So any solution we tried, the problem kept returning."

With moisture problems, synthetic floors tend to bubble, while wood floors tend to cup or even buckle. Wood is a hygroscopic material that will continue to expand and contract when moisture is added or removed. In fact, with a 5-percent moisture content change in the wood, a single board can increase its size by 1/32-inch, causing an average gym floor to expand up to 16 inches overall.

In Sparta's case, it wasn't as much a problem with the synthetic floor system as it was with the conditions of the concrete underneath: The gymnasium was built below grade in an area with a high water table, and the level of vapor transmission coming through the slab was unacceptable.

"We could not use the floor at all," Phillips says of the uneven and bubbled floor.

Searching for a solution to the moisture problem, Sparta High School sought the advice of Superior Floor Company, Inc.'s technical staff, who specialize in alleviating moisture and humidity in floors. Its first choice for a replacement was a wood floor because of the aesthetic beauty and longevity.

Subfloor system before maple is installed

With the existing floor being unsalvageable, work began to cover the existing synthetic floor the new wood floor system. The Scissor Loc Air Flow floor system was installed using dimensional lumber and a combination of vapor barriers. The system features an underfloor sensor to measure the humidity and vapor transmission and automatically turns on a mechanical ventilation system to dry out the floor and equalize the air moisture levels above and below the floor. This will happen automatically without Sparta High School staff having to realize a problem exists.

With this new patented system installed, Sparta High School has enjoyed problem-free performance since 1995 from its athletic floor. In fact, the proven installation at Sparta has assisted several other facilities in their decision to choose this type of wood floor when they previously thought that a wood floor was impossible for their facilities.

"It's worked very well so far," Phillips says. "Knock on wood."

For more information
Superior Floor Company, Inc.: 715-842-5358

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