Picking The Right Gymnasium Floor

November 10, 2008

As a society, our expectations are high. We demand quality, integrity and accountability – not only from the people in our lives, but also from the products and services we select to make our lives easier and better. And, while we may compare and contrast features, benefits and relevance – the products and the people behind them can still fall short of our expectations if we don’t ask all the right questions to ensure we are getting what we want and need.

When it comes to athletic flooring, the expectations are: performance, safety, resilience and long-term durability.

So, when the time comes to invest in gymnasium or other athletic flooring, it’s important to ask questions to learn about your surfacing options as well as about the character of the company you will hire to do the work.

For most schools, churches and organizations that are renovating or replacing their gym or multi-purpose room flooring, the surfacing options are typically narrowed to two choices – wood or a poured urethane surface. To make the best choice, the decision-makers need to consider several factors: budget, surface usage and expectations for long-term customer service.

Traditionally, hardwood is the surface of choice for a gymnasium floor, but as the need for multi-use surfaces increases, synthetic surfaces such as poured urethane is proving to be a durable  – not to mention – more affordable option.

A poured urethane surface is roughly two-thirds the cost of a wood floor and offers greater versatility over its hard wood counterpart, while also providing a worry-free, multi-purpose surface ideal for basketball, volleyball, indoor tennis and jogging. And, unlike a wooden surface, which is more sensitive to damage caused by water or the wrong type of foot traffic, a urethane surface is durable enough to handle other non-sport related events such as meetings, dances and church services.

Within the industry, there are generally two types of urethane floor systems used for gymnasiums – the roll-pour surface and a full-pour surface.

The roll-pour is a composite synthetic flooring system that includes a prefabricated, fully adhered rubber basemat sealed with polyurethane. The top resin layer of self-leveling polyurethane is fluid-applied. This system is coated with a two-part pigmented polyurethane with game lines and graphics applied.

The full-pour system consists of a base layer of fluid-applied resin and rubber, and a top pour of polyurethane self-leveling elastomer, to form a seamless, durable surface. The thickness of the top layer can vary to meet specific specifications. The system is finished with a two-part pigmented polyurethane coating, specifically designed for indoor sports. Game markings and intricate graphic designs can be applied for a complete custom design such as school logos and images

With both the roll-pour and the full-pour systems, the long-term quality of a poured urethane surface is dependent upon several critical areas:

  • The type of material components being used. Any surface, from playgrounds to walking trails to gymnasium floors, is only as good as the components built into the system. While there are many types of urethane used in various applications, urethane for gymnasium flooring requires particular levels of tensile strength, flexibility and working time.
  • The experience and expertise of the installation crew. Any surface is only as strong as the installation crew who carries out the mixing, application and finishing touches to the floor. Installing recreational and athletic surfacing is very much a construction process. Having a company with a well connected, well-trained network of installers – committed to superior craftsmanship – helps to ensure the job is done right.

Investing in any type of athletic or recreational surface is a big decision, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. By demanding more of all companies within the surfacing industry, the likelihood that the best value is chosen increases significantly. Know what you are purchasing before it is installed. Asking the right questions will ensure many years of enjoyment and performance from your surfacing systems. After all, isn’t that what you expect?