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Stepping Up Your Flooring

Flooring is one thing inside your facility utilized day in and day out. This is why it is important to stay on top of flooring maintenance and updates.

An essential way to protect your floors is by first making sure you are choosing the right flooring material for the area it is being placed. Todd Goodridge, the director of technical services for Robbins Sports Surfaces, said facilities should take into consideration the recreational and non-recreational activities that will be performed on the flooring. For example, ask yourself if your multi-purpose floor will be used for other activities, in addition to sports. “Make sure the flooring can accommodate those activities and that they will not void the manufacturer’s warranty,” said Goodridge. “Work with your local sports flooring contractor to develop a plan for evaluating and replacing your existing flooring. A competent sports flooring contractor can identify the floor systems that can be refurbished, potentially avoiding a costly replacement.”

The Simon Family JCC in Virginia Beach, Virginia, remodeled their facility after 12 years and replaced old carpet tiles with Ecore Rubber Flooring in their fitness area. Tom Purcell, the wellness director for the Simon Family JCC, said the carpet held in moisture, was difficult to clean and was worn down. He recommends adding rubber flooring to your facility because it is durable and easy to clean. It also allows you to create a design to match your facility’s brand in color, which is appealing to members.

When choosing flooring for the construction of a new rec center or renovation of an existing facility, it is a good idea to start by consulting colleagues. Goodridge recommends asking them what flooring systems have worked best for them, and what suppliers have been helpful and responsive. You should then work with your architect and sports flooring professionals to match the flooring benefits to the activities and users. Another aspect to consider when choosing your flooring is member and staff safety. Purcell said facilities should not have tile or any other slick, hard surface near areas that may have water or pool traffic. Some facilities have made this mistake in the past and have tried to correct it by placing mats over the tile. However, even if you use mats to cover the floor, there’s still a chance for someone to fall or for the mats to move. When choosing your flooring material, it is important you do not solely focus on the cheapest option. According to Goodridge, you should take into consideration if the company installing the flooring is local, how they address warranty items and, most importantly, whether they can be your long-term floor care partner or if they will disappear after being paid. From a budget standpoint, the cheapest option may be appealing, but without a long-term partner, your floors will not last as long and will end up costing more in the long run.

Maintenance and Durability While athletic and recreational sports flooring is designed to last a long time, that can only happen if they are well maintained. Maintenance requirements should be taken into consideration when choosing your flooring options.

There are special situations you need to give thought to, such as if it can support a heavy scissor-lift for when there is a light that needs to be changed, for example. Also, you need to ask if the floors require specific chemicals and are easy to clean on a regular basis.

According to Purcell, fitness floors should be deep cleaned with disinfectant a minimum of once per week. The Simon Family JCC uses a water-based, hospital-grade disinfectant to kill bacteria on all equipment and flooring. Additionally, Purcell said gyms and Group X rooms should be swept and lightly mopped three or more times per week to keep dust from collecting, and to prevent slipping and falls.

“For best results we recommend wood and synthetic floors be cleaned according to a regular schedule,” said Goodridge. “Hardwood floors should be dust-mopped daily with a dust mop treatment designed for sports flooring and recommended by the manufacturer of the finish on the floor.”

Additionally, Goodridge recommended having your hardwood floors recoated with a gym floor finish annually, and sanded down to bare wood about every 12 to 15 years.  Keeping your floors maintained should allow them to hold up for decades under normal usage. According to Goodridge, technology employed to maximize athlete safety and floors have improved dramatically over the past 20 years. “A modern sports floor, be it synthetic or a hardwood system, can offer many benefits over previous generations of flooring systems both to the athlete and the maintenance staff,” he said. 

However, Goodridge also explained it should be understood a floor exhibiting excessive wear or other dangerous conditions should be evaluated by a sports flooring professional as soon as possible.

Having industry partners is another way to maximize the lifespan of your flooring and prevent damages. Goodridge said it is vital to maintain a relationship with the company that manufactured the floor in your facility and with the company that installed the floor and performs the annual maintenance. He explained they are your facility’s best resources to assist with long-term floor care, and are the best for dealing with special situations that may develop as time goes on. 

A lot goes into the maintenance and protection of your floors, but your members will appreciate it in the long run. Purcell said flooring is one of the easiest ways to create a dramatic effect on how your facility looks and functions. “Having the proper flooring, you show your members that a clean environment is most important,” he said. “With the wide variety of choices, you can make a great impression on your members and guests that helps your bottom line in new members and retention.”

While flooring is often overlooked, it truly is critical to success. Ensuring you have the right type of surface, the right cleaning materials and the right manufacturing partner are all simple ways to show members you care about their safety and their experience.

Taylor BrownTaylor Brown is a staff writer for Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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