Multipurpose Flooring

Optimize Your Flooring

By Patricia Basileo


rom creating vases in ceramics class to centering one's chi during Tae Kwon Do, multipurpose facilities require flooring to accommodate intense competition, methodical practice and leisure activities. As multipurpose facility flooring must combat never-ending traffic and provide adequate support, it is imperative for specifiers to understand the need for a high-performance solution adaptable to multiple activities.

Multipurpose Facility Checklist

Often a single room in a facility will accommodate many activities, from dance to martial arts to conditioning classes, while other rooms may house athletic tournaments or training camps. Mapping out the exact activities the floor supports will greatly assist in determining the type of flooring a space requires.

If multiple activities are being held in a single space, it is recommended that a loose-laid vinyl floor—one that can be removed periodically or as necessary—be installed. Other options for a more permanent solution might be a hardwood-surfaced floor. Regardless of type, the flooring must feature slip-resistant qualities to ensure the safety of those utilizing the floor. Versatile, high-performance flooring is a favorite choice for multipurpose areas as it aids in noise reduction, safety and easy maintenance.

When choosing a multipurpose flooring solution, there are several factors that help determine the correct choice:

  • What is the budget for the space?
  • How large is the room or performance space?
  • Which type of sub-floor exists in the space?
  • What preparation is required to ready the existing floor for the new installation?
  • Will the installation be permanent, or will it need to be removed occasionally?
Finding Flooring Fit for Your Space

There are two basic surface options: permanent wood and synthetic. Each facility needs to weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which option is the most appropriate fit.

Hardwood (e.g., maple, beech, oak) is the established option for architects and specifiers. It has a visually attractive appeal, but can require constant and costly maintenance with re-sanding and sealing every few years. If waxes or incorrect seals are applied, it can also pose a significant slip hazard.

Specifiers should never use softwood (e.g., pine, fir, spruce) as an unprotected multipurpose surface because it is easily damaged and there is always the risk of splintering. However, it is an acceptable sub-surface because it offers relatively more "give" than a hardwood floor.

Currently the industry standard in multipurpose flooring is synthetics or flexible vinyl surfaces that can be unrolled over most surfaces for instant multipurpose floors. Vinyl flooring selections are easy to clean, durable and extremely convenient. Vinyl guarantees the cleanup will be simple and that the floor won't stay sticky.

Some facilities might not be able to afford the luxury of separate areas for each activity from the budget or space perspective. The solution may be vinyl flooring that can be easily transported and unrolled for use. If the basketball court doubles as space for ballet class, the ballet instructor will want to roll up the flooring once the class is finished for the day to protect it against wear and tear from athletic activities.

In addition, many floors can be easily assembled and disassembled for convenience and ease of use. Some manufacturers now supply flooring that easily clips into place, allowing for it to be used only when necessary. This type of flooring also provides historic facilities with an alternate option that doesn't damage the permanent structure.

Flooring Safety for All

Important to any specifier, but particularly for multipurpose spaces, is the issue of safety. Sports facilities must ensure safety for athletes, as well as any training camp attendees or visiting athletic teams utilizing the space. Several questions should be considered:

Does the flooring have a non-slip surface?

Avoid the chance that the janitorial department will wax the floor to a high shine, which can increase the risk of slips and serious injuries. Specify a vinyl performance floor with a matte or satin slip-resistant surface to prevent falls, and ensure the manufacturer also provides a detailed maintenance schedule.

What are the installation procedures?

Correctly installing the flooring can mean the difference between the floor lasting years or just months. Consult a flooring professional who can assess the needs of the individual space and install the floor according to the manufacturer's recommended procedures to avoid general trip hazards, lumps, ripples and poorly installed joints.

What type of maintenance does the floor need?

Properly maintaining flooring is essential for its long life. Permanent vinyl flooring installation offers impermeable welded seams to waterproof and seal the floor. Some vinyl floors also have soil-resistant surfaces for easy cleaning and hygienic properties.

A common misconception is that a well-designed sports floor will suit the needs of an array of dance and other physical activities, but there are two intrinsic differences from a high-performance floor: the sprung subfloor's construction and the performance surface. Athletic flooring is designed for indoor sports players who can tolerate a more rigid flooring solution than those utilizing the floor for dance rehearsal or everyday activities because they have the luxury of performing with cushioned athletic footwear, which helps guard against lower limb problems such as tendinitis, "shin splints," knee pain and ankle strain that can require weeks of physical therapy and recovery time to rectify. Unlike other types of shoes worn for everyday use or performing arts, the rubber soles of athletic shoes typically safeguard players from floors that can otherwise be hazardous, such as hard-lacquered wood flooring. Athletes share the concern for the risk of slipping and falling, and therefore for multipurpose performance surfaces, another crucial quality is the floor's slip-resistance.

The options are similar for each type of flooring, but the essential question remains the same: Is this the best flooring available for these specifications? Multipurpose flooring must ensure safety, quality and lasting aesthetics.


Since joining American Harlequin more than 12 years ago, Patricia Basileo, vice president and general manager, has played a vital role providing strategic direction and support, and significantly growing the company's sales. For more information, visit

© Copyright 2022 Recreation Management. All rights reserved.