What is the safest gym floor? How to choose the safest floor? What causes a slippery floor?
Choosing the perfect floor can be stressful and full of questions. At Foster Specialty Floors, we want to alleviate some of that stress by answering some of your most commonly asked ones.
You ask; we answer.
Have a question that is not answered below? Contact a member of our team.
Most Commonly asked questions about "Safest Floor"
What is the safest gym floor?
The primary causes of injuries on sports floors are a lack of uniformity, poor shock absorption values, and poor coefficient of friction.
Therefore, we recommend a playing surface that is designed for uniformity of play first and foremost. Our brains are able to adjust biomechanically to a hard or soft surface as long as that surface is consistent. However, if the surface is inconsistent in its surface tension, the mind is always trying to compensate for these variables with each step. This will result in fatigue and increased tendon stress.
A floor’s ability to absorb shock (force reduction) is that physical characteristic of the system to deflect under impact and reduce the shock waves returning directly into the athlete’s skeletal and muscle structures. On a wood floor, we feel the safest floors have a shock absorption value of at least 50%.
Coefficient of friction is the physical characteristic of “slide” associated with the floor’s surface coating. This applies to both wood and synthetic sports floors. Most national and international testing protocols state the safest indoor playing surfaces have a coefficient of friction between 0.4 to 0.6. Less than this, the floors will be too slippery for activities that require rapid stopping and pivoting. A higher value will make the surface too sticky. This will lead to torn ligaments and pulled muscles.
On a wood floor, the type of finish and frequency of refinishing determines the coefficient of friction. We recommend a maple gym floor be refinished once a year. On a synthetic floor, the type of coating and history of use determines the coefficient of friction. Synthetic floors are either not recoated (but replaced), or recoated every 8 -12 years. Most synthetic indoor sports floors have a friction value around 0.53 when new.
What causes a slippery gym floor?
A slippery gym floor is a very serious concern and should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid injury. Typically, a slippery gym floor is caused by an excessive amount of dust / dirt or contamination on the surface. If your wood floor is slippery, use a damp dust mop with an approved wood floor cleaner to remove the excess dust. If the problem is contamination, this process may need to be done multiple times to remove the foreign compounds. If the floor has not been recoated in over a year, the finish may have been polished smooth with normal use, and it needs to be recoated with new gym finish.
On rare occasions, the slipperiness may be caused by the existing gym finish beginning to peel off the floor. This condition should be corrected at once and may require resanding the floor to bare wood to remove the bonding failure.
If your synthetic floor is slippery, this is typically a contamination issue. Use an auto scrubber with an approved neutral based citrus cleaner to remove the contaminate. This may require several cleanings. On older synthetic floors, the actual topcoat may have been burnished smooth over the years reducing the coefficient of friction. If this is the case the floor will need to be completely refurbished or replaced; depending on the product originally installed.
What is the Coefficient of Friction on a gym floor?
Coefficient of Friction is defined as “the measure of the amount of friction existing between two surfaces”. In the realm of athletic surfacing this translates into the amount of “slide” between the playing surface and the athlete’s shoe or foot. The higher the rating the greater the amount of “grab” the surface has. The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association, as well as most national and international testing laboratories believe a safe indoor athletic surface should have a Coefficient of Friction between 0.5 to 0.7.
Typical maple, urethane, and vinyl sports floors test within these parameters. These floors are great for basketball, volleyball, and pickleball. Sheet rubber floors have a much higher coefficient of friction and are best for activities like track or tennis. A friction rating outside these values can produce surfaces that can promote injuries.
Annual refinishing will restore a wood floor’s protection, sheen, coefficient of friction, and cleanability.
We recommend using a wood gym floor finish that has been tested and approved by the MFMA and one that is compatible with the existing gym finish.