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Case Study: Transitioning from a Synthetic Court to Hardwood Sports Flooring

geary bret harte hardwood floors

When an opposing team visits your high school’s gymnasium, you want to be proud of your facility and the court on which competition takes place. Bret Harte High School in Calaveras County, California, knew it was overdue for a sports flooring upgrade, but school officials needed to find an expert who could handle a unique project.

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The school’s old basketball court consisted of synthetic flooring. While that can be a suitable option for certain applications, hardwood courts are usually preferred in high schools.

Matt Allen, vice president of Geary Floors, located just outside of San Diego, says visiting teams were complaining about Bret Harte High School’s gym because student athletes were used to playing on hardwood courts.

“Synthetic sports floors can be a great product,” says Allen. “But, when it comes to a higher level of competitive play, most coaches and athletes prefer hardwood maple, and that’s what Bret Harte High School needed.”

So, Geary Floors founder, Sean Geary, flew from San Diego to check out the situation. He was confident his team had the skills and partners to do the job despite aspects of the project that would require some creative problem solving and project management.

The Challenge

bret harte wood floor construction
Photo Courtesy: Guy Dossi, Calaveras Enterprise

In most renovations, the old flooring is removed and a hardwood sports floor system is installed on top of the cement slab underneath. For this project, Geary Floors told the school it could find a way to install the new system on top of the existing synthetic floor.

While a benefit of polyurethane sports floors is, they can be resurfaced, tearing out the product can be time consuming, adding to the scope and budget of a renovation.

“We decided, why remove the floor that’s been there for so long if we can re-top it with hardwood and help save the client money, time, and the trouble of tearing it out and prepping the slab?” says Allen.

With that decision came two challenges directly related to the fact that the new floor would sit higher up than it would if it were installed on the slab. Geary Floors had to make sure entrances and exits complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and would need to find a way to reattach bleachers, which were anchored to the gymnasium walls.

The Process

“We knew we’d have to do something different at the doorways to get the floor ramped down and meet ADA standards,” Allen recalls.

The first step in addressing this factor was choosing a sports floor system with a minimal height profile and the desired performance attributes. For that, Geary Floors identified Action AnchorFlex LP from Action Floor Systems®.

“This sports floor system is FIBA-certified and has a low profile, making it ideal for the project,” explains Action Floors Western Regional Sales Rep Matt Lyman. “It’s made with MFMA northern hard maple, and the subfloor system includes a resilient foam layer, which provides uniformity and comfort for athletes.”

Action Anchor Flex LP from Action Floors
Action AnchorFlex LP from Action Floors

Although the system has a low height profile, the new sports floor still raised the surface of the gym floor by 1 ¾”, which meant an ADA compliant solution was necessary.  The ADA states that any changes in surface levels greater than ½” require a ramp, creating a transition between surfaces and in doorways to provide ease of access for those using wheelchairs and others with disabilities. The ADA also requires that the least possible slope be used for any ramp, with a maximum slope of 1:12 or one foot of slope for every 1 inch of rise. (State and local requirements may differ)

Geary Floors worked with another key partner to ensure compliance was achieved. SafePath provided modular ramps that were the perfect solution for entrances and exits to the gym at Bret Harte High School.

“We took measurements and mapped out what we were going to do at the doorways, and then they fabricated rubber ramps, which could drop right into the transitions,” says Allen.

Besides partnering with Geary Floors, another thing Action Floors and SafePath have in common is the use of recycled rubber in our product offerings, which provides sustainable solutions that can contribute to a project’s LEED score.

The other challenge inside the gym was permanent bleachers, which were anchored to the walls. The height of the new flooring system meant the bleachers would be higher when re-installed. Plus, the crew from Geary Floors needed somewhere to put the bleachers during the installation. This required some smart project management.bleachers at school gym on hardwood floor

Allen says his team first installed the subfloor and maple flooring up to the bleachers.

Then, they detached the bleachers and rolled them onto the new floor. Next, the crew installed, sanded, sealed, and finished the area under the bleachers.

Finally, they reattached the bleachers with a new anchor position and sanded, sealed, and finished the main portion of the gymnasium.

Despite the extra work moving things around, everything was ready for the start of the school year, and the Bret Harte Bullfrogs volleyball team was the first to compete on the new hardwood maple court.

The Results

volleyball court hardwood floors
Photo Courtesy: Amber Pappé, Calaveras Enterprise

Allen says the entire sports floor renovation project took about six weeks to complete. Geary Floors also completed the paint job, adding game lines and an attractive logo at center court.

Action Floors recommended Geary Floors to the school and they were glad to find a sports flooring contractor who could work with them to find ways to comply with regulations and deliver an exceptional finished product that also fit within the budget.

“They’re very satisfied and say it turned out even better than they’d imagined,” says Allen. “They really like the third-grade maple and how it gave the floor a unique look.”

That was yet another way Geary Floors helped the school stay within a budget. While grades of maple have no impact on the quality or performance of a hardwood court, third grade maple has greater color variations than first or second. It also has a slightly lower cost.

“The school was happy to find it saved them a little bit of money while adding character to the gym,” says Allen.

Action Floors is proud to work with a network of sports flooring dealers who are problem solvers that bring project management and floor design advice to the table. You’ll find our versatile hardwood maple sports floors inside K-12 schools and colleges around the country.

Contact us with questions or to get help finding a sports flooring expert for your project.

logo on hardwood gym floor with two colors
Center Court logo on 3rd Grade Maple

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