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Sports Floors 101: The Importance of Hiring Experienced Sports Floor Contractors

hardwood sports floor installed by contractor

Image courtesy of Sports Floors, Inc.

If it’s approaching time to install a new or replacement sports floor at your facility, you are likely contemplating what needs to happen before the installation begins.  An experienced sports floor contractor can advise you on the work involved and the essential environmental conditions needed for a great installation.

It’s important to understand that sports flooring, and how you approach its installation, is different than commercial or residential flooring. Whether used for tennis, basketball, track, or another sport, there are many system options to meet your project needs. For the best results, selecting an experienced sports floor contractor is key to a successful sports floor system installation.

Before a sports floor is installed, the use of the floor should be thoroughly understood by an experienced sports floor contractor. Will the floor also be used for community events? Will bleachers be used on the floor? How many stacks high will the bleachers be? Will folding chairs or tables be set-up on the floor? An experienced sports floor contractor can offer recommendations on best practices to avoid issues.

The proper environmental conditions are important for the installation of all sports floor systems. Environmental conditions include the surface or slab the floor will be placed on, as well as the atmosphere, including heating and cooling effects. For hardwood athletic floor systems, environmental conditions need to be maintained before, during, and after installation. An experienced sports floor contractor can assist you based on your specific geographical location.

Another difference between sports floors and other floors is what happens to them during the finishing process. Sports floors feature game lines, logos, and lettering, and an experienced sports floor contractor will assist in sequencing the priority game lines. Also, sports floor systems are designed to deliver shock absorption and deflect to support user health and safety, requiring the skill of an experienced contractor.

hardwood gym floor installation

Image courtesy of Sports Floors, Inc.

What can go wrong?

A variety of issues can occur from improperly installed sports floors. The floor might sound hollow, or there might be dead spots. Improper acclimation can result in expansion and contraction problems. In some cases, these occurrences can potentially present trip hazards and other safety issues. If a floor is performing poorly, it may not look as good as a properly installed floor. Considering the investment of a sports flooring project, nobody wants to face these kinds of issues.

If a floor is installed and maintained correctly, it will look great, function well, and provide satisfying play for many years.

Preparing for success

An experienced sports floor contractor will be knowledgeable not only about flooring and subfloor, what the prevailing regional environmental conditions are, along with general construction and procedures. They will understand the performance physics of the subfloor system and how it pertains to the usage demands of a sports floor system. They will make sure the proper relative humidity in the space is maintained. Moisture is a maple floor’s worst enemy, so taking measures to eliminate it from the environment is critical.

The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) recommends maintaining indoor relative humidity between 35 and 50%. They state, “Excessive shrinkage and/or expansion may occur with indoor relative humidity variations in excess of 15 percent.” Geographical conditions vary, and 15% is the optimum range. Experienced sports floor contractors will talk with you about ways to maintain a 15% relative humidity range in the space before, during, and after installation.

For existing floor replacements, the floor system would be opened and evaluated for causes of a shortened lifecycle, if applicable, and to determine the profile height of the recessed concrete slab. Once the existing floor has been removed, the sports floor contractor will assess the concrete slab’s flatness and relative humidity level. Doing so will ensure optimal performance with the new flooring system.

For new construction, an experienced sports floor contractor will work with the general contractor or project manager on scheduling the floor’s installation sequence in the overall construction process. The floor system installation should occur after all overhead work is completed (HVAC ducts and equipment, lighting, overhead athletic equipment). Doing so ensures that other trades will not damage the floor system.

Whether installing a replacement floor system or a new system, preparing for a sports flooring install is an integral part of the process. An experienced sports floor contractor will also clearly inform you of the care and maintenance requirements necessary to maximize the lifespan of your new flooring system.

Communication is key

Brent Kelosky of Sport Floors, Inc. has installed Action Floors products for many years. He explains that by looking at projects from a technical standpoint and having clear discussions with the end-user, his company can better understand their customer’s expectations.

“It’s really about aligning the expectations and concerns of the end user and the product itself. We demand pre- and post-meetings with as many people as possible and try to work through any concerns before any flooring hits the job site. Being proactive before we begin the work has been our biggest success.”

blue and grey maple sports floor

Image courtesy of Sports Floors, Inc.

Find accredited installers

The MFMA makes it easy to identify an experienced sports flooring contractor. To be a member, you have to be financially secure, bonded, and have a good insurance rating. These are basic criteria anyone should be looking for with a contractor. So, when you see an MFMA accreditation associated with a contractor, you’ll know all those points are covered.

Plus, following specific recommendations for installation is required for MFMA accreditation. Accredited contractors are tested every two years by both the association and flooring manufacturers to ensure that contractors are following the installation recommendations.

When talking to a sports floor contractor, make sure they are asking the right questions. The conversation should involve the use of the space, who the users/athletes of the floor system are, the performance of the sports floor system, and whether the flooring and system are FloorScore® certified. The conversation should not just be about what your budget is or what kind of flooring you want. A quality sports floor contractor will be looking at the owner’s interests and what they need and how those things can be accomplished.

To read about specific projects that involved experienced sports floor contractors, visit our success stories page. If you have any other questions as you begin the process of finding an experienced sports floor contractor, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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