A gymnasium floor is a major expense for any school, college or athletic facility, typically costing $50,000-$100,000. Athletes, coaches and trainers generally prefer maple hardwood flooring with a shock-absorbing subflooring. However, in addition to its hefty initial cost, hardwood flooring requires regular cleaning and maintenance to retain its professional appearance.
Gym floor manufacturers and refinishers recommend that you only allow appropriate athletic footwear on the floor to minimize damage. But most gymnasiums are multipurpose facilities. What can be done to protect your investment during non-athletic use? A premium quality gym floor cover can keep the floor looking good, reduce maintenance costs, improve safety and create an attractive space that can be used for other purposes.
A whole host of risks come along with using the gym for commencements, proms, conventions, and other special events. Wood flooring can be scuffed and scraped by heels and street shoes. Furniture such as tables and chairs will likely be used, and can potentially cause even more damage. Food and drinks might be served, coming with a risk of spills. Even during athletic use, gym floors can become damaged by heavy equipment, team benches, scoring tables and sideline seating. Spectators or organizers may be wearing hard-soled footwear as they walk around the edges of the floor.
Maple flooring can also be damaged by improper cleaning and maintenance. Harsh chemical cleaners can wreck a hardwood floor, as can automatic floor scrubbers and the overuse of water. For this reason as well as the cost, it is best to limit the amount of maintenance and cleaning that needs to be performed on the floor.
Covering the floor during non-athletic use is an obvious way to avoid most damage from improper use, but does it make financial sense?
Even with daily cleaning and careful use, gym floors require regular maintenance. Annual re-coating is recommended, with more frequent treatments for floors that see heavy daily use. Experts recommend that you completely sand, reseal, repaint and refinish a gym floor every 5-10 years, depending on the amount of use and, predictably, whether or not the floor is covered during non-athletic use.
The average cost of sanding and refinishing a gym floor (materials, labor and painting) is $3.00 per square foot. For a 5,000 square foot gymnasium, this adds up to $15,000. In terms of time, a coat of finish can take as long as 7 days to fully cure. The whole process of sanding and refinishing a floor usually takes 3 to 4 weeks. That’s a long time for your gym to be out of commission. What’s more, a gym floor doesn’t last forever. The Maple Flooring Manufacturer’s Association (MFMA) says that the thickest grade of properly maintained maple flooring can only withstand up to ten sandings before a new floor must be installed. Keeping your gym floor in good condition will reduce maintenance and increase its lifespan.
Is your gym regularly used for activities other than sports? School gyms are generally used for all kinds of school functions, such as graduation commencements, award ceremonies, dances, proms, holiday events, lectures and science fairs. In these times of heavy foot traffic, a wooden gym floor that was designed for sneakers can be overrun by destructive heels and street shoes. Scuffing, denting and scraping from tables, chairs and other furnishings can also cause significant damage. Using a gym floor cover for these special events will greatly minimize damage.
Do you rent out your gym to other organizations? Some states pay a nominal fee for a school gym to be used as a polling place. A school gym might also be used for civic group meetings, fundraisers, trade shows, church services, concerts or political rallies. A high quality floor covering can turn your school’s gymnasium into an attractive space that can be rented out when not in use, generating income for the school.
Beyond simply protecting the gym floor from damage, a gym floor cover will hide the sports-specific paint on the hardwood and turn the whole room into a space more suitable for other types of events. For example, if using the facility for a convention, a gym floor cover will will give visitors the sense that they are in a convention center, rather than in a basketball court being used for a convention.
Standard vinyl gym floor covers are made to be everything that a beautiful maple hardwood floor isn’t — stain, abrasion, and tear resistant, as well as low maintenance. What would the point be otherwise? Less obvious, though, is that these attributes offset the time and effort of utilizing a cover system on a day-to-day basis. A large system can take two people 20 or 30 minutes to put down and take up. But cleanup and maintenance time following any event will be drastically reduced. The use of a stain and abrasion resistant covering means daily effort is both lower and more predictable.
Gymnasiums are notoriously poor acoustical spaces. All surfaces are generally hard, causing sounds to bounce in unpleasant ways given the non-acoustical nature of gymnasium design priorities. Without some effort to remedy this issue, a gymnasium will be a very unpleasant venue for audience members at events where sound is key. A sound absorbing carpet floor covering, available as easy-to-install tiles, remedy this by greatly reducing reverberation, making it more suitable for lectures, commencements and concerts.
While vinyl gym floor covers of all types tend to be more slip-resistant than finished hardwood, higher end styles are optionally available with non-slip textures and patterns. These offer additional precaution against slip and fall accidents, should the floor surface become wet. Installing a non-slip gym floor cover for public events can reduce the risk of injury and potential liability.
Today’s gym floor coverings, coated with material such as PVC polyester mesh, are extremely durable, fire retardant, waterproof, rot and mildew resistant, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. This means that you won’t put your cover away one day and find it unusable or in desperate need of cleaning when you get it out again months down the road.
Gym floor covers are available as roll systems or tiles. Integrated roll systems make it fast and easy to install and take up a gym floor covering. This type of floor cover, typically in PVC polyester coated vinyl, is available in up to 10-foot wide sections which are taped together once installed. A matching rack, which can be operated with a hand-crank or motorized winder, lets two people put down a gym floor cover in about 30 minutes.
The other option is a tile-based floor cover, which can be made of plastic or carpeting. Carpet is more expensive, but it’s extremely durable, easy to clean and professional in appearance for special events. This style of cover does take longer to install and remove, and takes up more space in storage. It can also be more effort to maintain, as it doesn’t offer conveniences like the brush assembly option for vinyl roller racks.
When considering a cover for your gym floor, ask yourself these questions:
CoverSports offers a wide selection of top-quality gym floor covers and accessories. GymGuard® ultra-durable floor covers are waterproof, fire retardant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, as well as mildew and rot resistant. GymGuard Plus floor covers have a raised pattern for added safety and slip resistance. Carpet Tiles provide a professional look for conventions and other special events, and GymGuard Runners are ideal for protecting high traffic locations at entrances, exits and in front of bleachers.