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Selecting the Best Recreation Floor Surface
By: Chris Wedge

The ability to minister and reach people for the glory of God is often enhanced with athletic and recreational facilities within the church. Among the components in these facilities, the most important piece of equipment is the main activity floor. This athletic and recreational floor will typically be over 7,000 square feet in order to host at least one full basketball court and have a boundary area.

In addition to sports activities, the litany of other possible activities is substantial: community meetings, fellowship gatherings, food service events, physical education classes, sports leagues, games, and, possibly, the church's worship services. 

With this many activities possible, how does the leadership of the church decide what is the best floor surface to use? The two main categories of choices are either wood or synthetic, and there are subsets to each of these categories. This is an important decision, namely because the product should last a minimum of 25 years and potentially more than 75 years. 

The biggest question that must be answered first is whether this floor is primarily a sports floor or a non-sports floor. Consider the following:

Who will be using this floor?
Who uses the floor, or, better yet, what type of shoes do the users wear? Any floor, but especially a wood sports floor, will receive lesser wear from soft-soled, non-marking type shoes. If the majority of days the floor will experience non-sports shoes, this must be considered. The use of walk-on mats at entry areas can help minimize the introduction of dirt and debris to the floor.

Also considered in this question are the age and athletic experience of the user. There is the tendency to believe that younger kids do not warrant or need a performance floor, since they are used to running on concrete and asphalt. Sealed concrete, carpet, and vinyl composition tile become the choices. This is a huge mistake in mindset due to the lesser soft-tissue and bone strength development in younger athletes. Indeed, they may be the athletes that need the most safety, performance, and cushioning. Compare that to the needs of the adult basketball league. For reasons of accumulated wear and tear on the body, a cushioned sports floor is much appreciated.

What activities will be performed on the surface and how often will the facility be used in an average year?
This is a key question and one that must be answered objectively. Often, the choice is being made for a new facility that has no history and therefore an incomplete picture as to the possibility of events. Many times, a gym that was designed for sports only becomes a meeting space and fellowship area for the church. Will the facility host events that serve food on a regular basis? Where there is food, there are spills, so there must be wet cleaning. If the floor will host many and routine food service events, strong consideration away from a wood surface must be given, as water and wood do not mix.

Will the facility host events where dress shoes and women's high-heeled shoes are commonly worn? Also, will the floor host events that use tables and chairs? A greater degree of wear and tear from the plastic and metal contacts from the legs can be expected. If these two situations exist, greater care for any type of sports surface is necessary. An effort should be made to purchase tables and chairs with soft contact "feet" and to keep them maintained. Also consider that floor covering products exist that can protect and dress up the floor. There are several options, including thin rollout vinyl sheets, thicker heavier plastic tiles, and temporary carpet rolls.

Are there unique site considerations for the church gym?
Is the floor below grade? What is the climate at the location, and will an HVAC system be used in the space? Since most synthetic floors are adhered to the concrete slab, these can be more susceptible to moisture coming through the slab. Moisture migration can cause bonding issues of the floor material to the slab resulting in "blistering" or "bubbling." Wood is a hygroscopic material, meaning that it will gain and release moisture from exposure to varying humidity levels in the air. This gain and release results in size expansion and contraction of the wood. This necessitates a certain year-round control of the temperature and humidity levels in the gym. At a minimum, the anticipated highs and lows of temperature and humidity need to be predicted in the space for a safe installation. Finally, was the concrete slab area that receives the sports floor recessed appropriately with the surrounding surfaces? Most synthetics will be near ˝" thick, whereas most wood floor assemblies will be just over 2" thick.    

It is best to consult with proven manufacturers and reliable contractors who have several installations and good references to help in the decision process. Comprehensive information can be found at www.maplefloor.org.
 
Chris Wedge is the Southern Regional Manager for Aacer Flooring, www.aacerflooring.com.

Sidebar

Church Provides Fitness Opportunities for All
By Robin Traum

Leaders of First Baptist Church of Brandon, Florida, realized providing increased access to sports, fitness, and recreational programs would immensely benefit its congregation and the community at large. So, they set about expanding their facilities and programming.

The church expanded its original recreational space from 10,000 square feet to a 46,000-square-foot, two-level Ministry & Activities Center (MAC). Not only was more space available, its recreational ministry programming increased by 50 percent.

"The MAC facility was an outgrowth of a vision for future growth and ministry for our church," said Dr. Tommy Green, senior pastor of First Baptist. "We have a young community and knew that we would have a tremendous opportunity to reach families and individuals. The MAC is operational over 90 hours per week and provides a safe and caring atmosphere throughout the week for our church and community."

The size of the facility was driven by the specific components the church wanted from the center.

"We determined what we desired to offer and like a puzzle put the pieces together to comprise the whole," Green said. "It includes weight rooms, aerobic areas, walking track, children's playscape area, racquetball, multiple basketball courts, meeting rooms, volleyball, tennis courts, computer lab, café, common areas, fully equipped men's and women's locker areas, and a large group space for student ministry."

Keeping with the recreation ministry's mandateto make the MAC as multipurpose as possible, more than 35,000 square feet of durable resilient vinyl flooring was installed throughout much of the enlarged building. The Ministry & Activities Center was a Design Build project completed by Canco General Contractors, Inc., which recommended the resilient vinyl flooring to the building committee.

"The floor system is durable, comfortable, and easy to maintain, and it provides an outstanding visual for those who walk into the MAC," said Green.

The double gym sports two NBA regulation-size basketball courts and a one-eighth mile running/walking track. The elevated track creates a dark blue perimeter that highlights the gym's maple design flooring. Visitors' other exercise choices include cardio and group exercise rooms and a women's aerobics studio. Each separate area installed flooring appropriate for the intended use. In the cardio/exercise rooms, the flooring is three millimeters thick, and the product installed in the aerobics studio is seven millimeters thick, providing additional shock absorption and comfort. The gym is covered with a five-millimeter multilayer floor for shock absorption and accurate ball bounce. All the flooring has been permanently treated to cut down on maintenance procedures.

"The decision about multiple courts was an easy one to make," said Green. "We are providing league play for children through adults in various sports, and the additional space enables us to have multiple games or events taking place simultaneously."

The MAC's current schedule includes karate and self-defense classes for children, basketball and cheerleading leagues for children from kindergarten through sixth grade, men's open gym, toning and strength training programs for women and men, as well as adult volleyball games. 

Robin Traum is public relations consultant for Gerflor Sports Flooring, www.gerflorsport.com.

Product Roundup
Goalsetter Systems
Basketball goals by Goalsetter Systems provide flexibility and rugged designs to address your church's various needs. The Portable Series is an economical solution for church gyms. The Wall Mount Series is an obvious choice when space is limited. The Signature Series is ideal for church parking lots and playgrounds. The Junior Series is optimal for youth play areas, church social rooms, and childcare facilities.
www.goalsettersystems.com

Action Floor Systems
A new eight-page brochure from Action Floor Systems details the company's capabilities in offering products that fully support "green" sustainable-design projects. The brochure also highlights Action Floor's environmentally friendly manufacturing practices and facilities in Mercer, Wisconsin. Action Floor Systems manufactures a wide variety of hardwood sports floor systems for any application.  The company specializes in high-performance sports floors constructed of hard maple timber grown exclusively in northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
www.actionfloors.com

CoverSports USA
CoverSports USA offers at no charge its GymGuard floor cover system DVD. The DVD and accompanying brochure and swatch book detail the wide assortment of gym floor cover fabric colors, weights, storage options, and winding features. CoverSports USA's vast GymGuard inventory ensures that virtually all orders are shipped within two weeks.
www.CoverSports.com

International Play Company
International Play Company manufactures a quality line of indoor play structures, outdoor playgrounds, and interactive play products. IPC's professional and knowledgeable team will work hand in hand with your team to develop a proposal that meets the needs and budget of each individual project. IPC understands the significance of designing play spaces that address the various stages of a child's development. New products include 22' Themed Climbing Wall and Air Trek Obstacle Adventure for children and adults.
www.iplayco.com

Multi-Play Flooring
Multi-Play Flooring is the solution to the many needs of today's expanding churches. For recreation, Multi-Play performs much like a more expensive wood floor, providing a surface that offers shock absorption, proper traction, and ideal ball bounce. But it's ideal for churches who also utilize those multi-purpose spaces for meetings and church suppers, since Multi-Play remains undamaged by the use of tables and chairs. Installation is so easy that many customers choose to do it themselves. Multi-Play can also be used as temporary flooring to conduct occasional recreational activities.
www.multiplayfloor.com

COVERMATE II from Covermaster
The custom-engineered COVERMATE II represents a breakthrough in gymnasium safety. The system's main attractions are the retractable outriggers that reduce the risk of tipping. Also, the yellow roller end collars prevent fingers from getting pinched. Special safety bolts that attach each roller bracket to the main frame hold the roller captive to prevent it from popping up. The six casters, two of which are offset, reduce the floor point load by 33%, while foot-operated locks anchor the system securely to the floor.
www.covermaster.com

Electra Tarp
Major churches throughout the country use and recommend Electra Tarp gym floor covers and Awana game floors. Current trends show valued space is often required to serve for numerous functions. Electra Tarp's floor covers offer the versatility to turn your space into a multipurpose facility. Electra Tarp floor covers are manufactured using top-quality reinforced, flame-retardant, mildew-resistant vinyl, available in numerous colors and variety of weights. Whether your space is large or small, Electra Tarp can construct a gym floor cover or Awana game floor to fit your needs.
www.electratarp.com

American Harlequin
When should a gym floor not be a gym floor? When it's being used for dance! Many churches have to combine sports and dance events. Athletic floors are high gloss hardwood surfaces made for sports and athletic shoe use. When a dancer walks or leaps on a gym floor, this same surface can cause slips or falls, which can be both dangerous and career ending. Harlequin manufactures vinyl roll out portable dance floors to add slip resistance to this surface so that dancers feel safe and secure when performing their craft.
www.harlequinfloors.com

Dri-Dek Perfect for Wet Floors
Dri-Dek's anti-skid, self-draining surface keeps wet floors dry. It's perfect in pool areas, showers, locker rooms, and saunas. It is made from oxy-B1 vinyl to fight mold, mildew, and germs. Just snap the 12" x 12" interlocking tiles together to form a custom surface of any length, width, or shape. It is available in 12 designer colors.
www.dri-dek.com









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