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Case Study: John Gray High School Basketball Facility in Grand Cayman

john gray gymnasium high school floor

The Cayman Islands may be a Caribbean paradise, but they present some difficult challenges for hardwood maple sports floors.

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That’s one reason why the Action Floor Systems® maple athletic floors that Southeastern Surfaces & Equipment (SSE) installed at John Gray High School in Grand Cayman are part of the island’s first-and-only major wood floor gymnasium. The gym at John Gray is now considered the territory’s premier athletic facility, and it will be used as a model for future athletic projects. Plus, there are plans to host an NCAA tournament this fall and the potential for NBA teams to use the gym in the future.


While SSE has completed a variety of work in the Caribbean, Director of Major Projects Harrell Rawlins told us how this job presented some challenges.

“We’ve done other type of island work, but it’s all been synthetic floors,” Rawlins says. “This is our first wood floor in the islands.”

The Challenge

john gray gymnasium sports floor

In addition to the logistical efforts of shipping materials for a 21,000-square foot hardwood sports floor from to Grand Cayman from the Action Floors mill in Mercer, Wisconsin, the biggest challenge for SSE was dealing with the island’s humid climate. Moisture levels and the overall indoor environment needed to be controlled to ensure the longevity of the courts.

A portion of the gymnasium is located over a 10,000-gallon cistern holding water that can be accessed if the facility needs to be used as a storm shelter. The facility was designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane and can host over 1,100 people.

The Process

Officials at John Gray High School made an investment in a heavy vapor barrier from Griffolyn®. Rawlins says the addition of the upgraded below the floor system vapor retarder is to mitigate problems moisture transfer from the cistern could potentially cause.

“With the upgraded vapor retarder we didn’t anchor the floor because we didn’t want to drill any holes through the vapor barrier,” Rawlins explains.

Even though the system configuration changed, Rawlins says the play response and performance attributes are very similar.

Grand Cayman experiences humidity levels above 80% year-round, and inside the building you’ll find 60% humidity. While many other buildings don’t have air conditioning, or only run it periodically, John Gray High School will keep the AC on 24/7 to protect its new basketball courts. Additional steps were taken to ensure exterior doors were properly sealed.

SSE also made sure the hardwood maple had enough room to expand in the humid environment.

“We put extra expansion joints in the wood because of the high moisture in the building,” Rawlins says. “It was recommended to add expansion joints every 12 to 14 boards, but we actually installed them every 10 boards.”

john cray high school gymnasium floor installation

Besides the moisture in the air, the sand on the ground also posed a threat to the facility’s sports flooring.

“A lot of the sand down there is actually ground coral, so it’s a lot rougher than other sand,” Rawlins explains. “They’re going to have to dust mop it on a very regular basis.”

Rawlins and the team at SSE spent time explaining proper maintenance procedures and trained the staff at the school to care for the new courts, which will be used for things like student testing and community events in addition to athletic activities.

The Results

The Action Floors system inside John Gray High School is the Action ChannelFlex Ultra NR. This premium option was chosen in part because it is FIBA certified, and the school plans to use the facility for national and international competition.cayman island classic

In November 2017, John Gray High School will host the NCAA’s Cayman Islands Classic, a preseason college basketball tournament featuring eight teams. The inaugural event will include the Cincinnati Bearcats, Iowa Hawkeyes, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, Wyoming Cowboys, Buffalo Bulls, South Dakota State Jackrabbits, Richmond Spiders, and UAB Blazers.

“This is an opportunity to showcase our world famous ‘Caymankindness’ to a new visitor demographic, and strengthen our sports tourism product,” Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell stated in an interview with the Caymanian Times.

Rawlins said he’s also heard that some NBA teams are interested in using the gymnasium for training because it lets players escape media attention.

The islands’ Director of the Department of Sports, Collin Anglin, believes it will boost sports programs in the nation while helping “foster school pride and patriotism.”

“Now the national teams can have a training facility that simulates international standards, thereby raising their level of play and preparation as well as being able to host more competitions which will create more awareness for each sport,” Agilin told

Of course, the high-quality sports flooring will make a difference for the student athletes as well. Rawlins tells us many local teams play on concrete courts or floors that don’t provide the same level of shock absorption and uniformity as Action ChannelFlex Ultra.

“The coaches are really happy with it and the last time I spoke with them, they told me they were looking forward to using it,” he says, adding that when he last checked on the floor, “everything was in good shape.”

“I went back three months after completion and the expansion joints are holding up,” he says. “It’s well-designed as far as being protected now that everything is up and running.”

Action Floors is proud of the work our dealers complete, the challenges they take on and the solutions we help them provide. We manufacture hardwood maple sports floors and synthetic flooring systems that are ideal for many applications, from professional arenas to elementary schools.

Contact Action Floors today to find out more about our offerings and how our flooring experts can help with your project.

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