“Every time that I look in the mirror. All these lines in my face getting clearer.”
Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler sang those legendary lyrics about the passage of time and the pursuit of a dream. Tyler is now in his early 70s and, like many celebrities, he’s had a little work done in an attempt to keep himself looking young.
As the years go by, synthetic sports surfaces often need a facelift, too. The justifications for updating a sports floor, however, represent much more than vanity.
For the Fitness and Recreation Center at the University of Maine-Farmington, resurfacing the fieldhouse flooring meant they were not only getting the facelift they wanted, but they were also addressing safety issues, fixing damage, and improving playability. Benjamin White, Director of the Center, explained their reasons for an upgrade were, “Primarily safety, although aesthetics and performance were factors as well. The existing floor was over 25 years old and showing its age. The surface was no longer entirely flat, and the rebound and traction was a bit worn.”
The Past is Gone, Like Dusk to Dawn
Around the time the project went out to bid, Michael DiNatale of FJ Roberts Sports Surfaces, a trusted dealer of Action Floor Systems®, says people from his team visited the Fitness and Recreation Center at the university. They were able to provide some answers to questions and estimates for resurfacing the area, which was showing signs of wear and tear.
Later in the project schedule, FJ Roberts got a call from sports flooring consultant Fred Farrell who was working with the University of Maine-Farmington on the project. Farrell is a 50-year veteran of the industry whose work has even involved tennis courts and jogging tracks at the White House. Farrell wanted to know more about what FJ Roberts could do for the school’s fieldhouse flooring.
“He actually installed the original floor, which was a full-pour polyurethane surface that probably went in around 25 years ago,” said DiNatale. “It wasn’t a pad and pour floor because they weren’t being installed back then.”
To provide some shock absorption, these older polyurethane sports surfaces were designed to be softer. That, however, made the school’s fieldhouse flooring more susceptible to certain types of damage. DiNatale specifically mentioned issues with asphalt heaving.
“Because asphalt was the substrate, there was a significant amount of heaving,” he said. “They have really hard freezes in upstate Maine. For various reasons, such as cold weather, the asphalt will force rocks upwards and cause humps. We had to cut a lot of those out and repair them before we resurfaced.”
Rather than tearing up the old synthetic sports flooring, the school chose the budget-friendly option of resurfacing the current floor using Action Herculan RT (Re-Top). This would allow the school a viable solution that addressed safety issues for those using the facility.
Herculan RT (Re-Top)
“The coatings were worn, especially in the high traffic areas, which creates an unsafe situation with friction,” DiNatale explained. “Once the topcoat is worn off, it exposes the raw polyurethane underneath, which is very tacky and grabby.”
That’s not what you want in a sports floor, especially in areas of courts that see a lot of action, such as right underneath basketball hoops.
“That’s where athletes are stopping and pivoting, and it can contribute to injuries,” added DiNatale.
Lines Getting Clearer
The University of Maine-Farmington’s fieldhouse is a large facility, which meant it was a major resurfacing project that would take about two weeks to complete.
“The fieldhouse is 30,000 square feet. We did repairs, prepped the surface, and overpoured the entire 30,000 square feet with 2 millimeters of the Action Herculan RT system to give the floor a second life,” said DiNatale. “Then, we applied the Herculan 150 topcoat in the selected gray color over the entire surface, which helps increase the visibility of the court lines and gives the space a clean, fresh look.”
The fieldhouse hosts a wide variety of sports and has basketball, volleyball, tennis, and pickleball courts as well as a jogging track around the facility’s perimeter. In addition to being a large facility, the fieldhouse is also meant to serve a wide variety of users.
“It’s really a community-based college, and the recreation department’s facility doubles as a community health club,” DiNatale explained. “It’s a grassroots-type facility that accommodates a lot of different people along with the college kids. So, there is an older crowd that really likes pickleball, and they added those courts for them.”
All those sports require a lot of different game lines. However, the old surface had become cluttered with too many lines over the years.
“The design was really busy before the resurface,” DiNatale recalled. “There were a lot of lines for a lot of different courts that were painted on the floor, and they wanted to minimize that. So, we worked with them on trying to eliminate lines that weren’t necessary. At the end of the day, I think they came up with a great layout.”
“Dream on” may have been what other sports flooring dealers and manufacturers thought when they heard about the timeframe and deadlines for this project.
DiNatale said the university wanted to get the new flooring installed as soon as possible while school was still out for the summer. He thought others who may have otherwise bid on the work just couldn’t provide the manpower at that time of year, or they didn’t have a supplier that could come through with enough sports flooring materials.
“We were fortunate enough to have an opening and we were able to take care of the work that needed to be done,” he said. “Action Floors was fantastic because this was a lot of material to provide during their busy season. They were able to ship us the Herculan product straight to the job site.”
The Action Herculan RT system provides unique benefits on resurfacing projects such as this. That’s because it is specifically designed to be applied on top of softer, older urethane floors, such as the surface in the University of Maine-Farmington’s fieldhouse.
“A lot of urethanes that are available today are not compatible with those softer surfaces,” DiNatale said. “Imagine putting a hard sheet of glass over a pillow. If you jump on that glass, it’s going to crack. Action Herculan RT is designed to go over softer urethanes without cracking.”
Now that the university has a safe, durable, better-looking, updated fieldhouse, college students and the surrounding community have a place to live out their indoor sports dreams.
“It really came out beautifully and the college is extremely happy with the results,” said DiNatale. “They’re glad to be back in the facility with a new surface that is safe and useable, because there were a lot of unsafe conditions.”
Fitness and Recreation Center Director Benjamin White concurred, “The response has been terrific. We took the opportunity to change the color scheme as well and have received positive feedback on all aspects of the surface: the color, the performance, the smoothness. We’re pleased to be able to offer the improved experience to our community.”
Do you have a sports flooring project coming up that requires a synthetic surface? There are several options and configurations of synthetic sports floors to consider. To help architects and school officials make decisions, Action Floors offers the exclusive guide, Selecting Synthetic Floors for School and Sports Settings. Download this free e-book today to aid in your research.
If you’d like more information on what we can do for your project, don’t hesitate to contact Action Floors today.