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How to Select a Sports Floor
By: Steve Frailey

Here are nine considerations as you evaluate and ultimately select flooring for your church's recreation facility.

1. Create an outline for selecting your sports floor.
Make a list of the uses you wish for your facility, such as basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, meetings, assemblies, banquets, etc. Today, most groups adding sports need that court to be more than just a sports hall. Listing what events you intend to use the space for will make it easier to make a flooring selection. Nearly all fellowship halls are intended for many events, along with sports play.

2. Prioritize your uses.
Make a timeline. For example, five days will be used for sports play, including basketball, volleyball, and the like, along with aerobics/fitness. Next, project your expectations. Such as, your expectation might be for three nights to host meetings or assemblies, as well as the possible rental for parties/reunions/celebrations.

3. Research alternatives.
There are a variety of products that can meet your sports needs.

For high-quality sports play, the following types of products are capable of competition-level sports play:

* Wood floors with rubber pads for comfort
* Wood floors over sleeper system
* Performance synthetic floors

Also available are multipurpose sports floors, which help you combine sports and multipurpose activities within your facility. There are a variety of alternatives available, including:

* Interlock sports courts
* Poured in place flooring
* Synthetic sports flooring
* Rubber sheet sports flooring
* Sports carpet—level loop with game lines

4. Consider total costs.
Yearly maintenance cost of flooring can make a large total cost difference.

All floors will still require cleaning and dust mopping. Synthetic floors, rubber floors, poured in place floors, and interlock floors can be cleaned with auto scrubbers—one-step process clean, rinse, and wet vac. Hardwood floors should never allow auto scrubbers for cleaning; damp mopping and dust mop only.

Hardwood flooring requires annual screening and urethane coating costing $1.00-$1.50 per square foot, depending on your local market.

Hardwood flooring will require a full refinish every four to seven years, depending on use, and an additional $3 to $4 per square foot should be budgeted. Hardwood should not be used for multipurpose events (sport play only), unless you budget refinishing every two years, again adding $3 to $4 per square foot).

Interlock, poured in place, and rubber sheet flooring will also require similar cost of cleaning and rinsing.

Synthetic floors without a specific commercial performance cooked in urethane will require semi-annual waxing and stripping, adding an additional $1.50 per square foot in addition to cleaning cost.
5. Determine which products make sense for your project and conduct a field trip to view.
Contact manufacturers to find locations of installations near your facility. Look for not only new installations but also installations at least three years old to determine longevity and real maintenance requirements. 

If the manufacturer doesn't have local installations or local installation crews available, you might want to consider dropping him from your list; it might be simply too risky. Why doesn't he have installations?

Remember, don't expect for you or your committee to have the background to find some new source of flooring that no one else is using. You want established products with recognizable quality references. This decision is too major to become someone's guinea pig.
6. Observe and also ask questions on your installation field trip.
Questions you should ask include:

* How does it look? Will it provide the image you wish to portray?

* How well does this product play for sports you intend to play?

* How do you maintain the floor and how often?

* What equipment and chemicals are necessary to maintain floor?

* Can it handle hosting multipurpose events, if needed?

7. Determine the best value for your project.
You have educated yourself on what is available, and researched reference installations to determine both the image and cleaning and maintenance upkeep requirements. You understand the budgeted costs necessary for each. At this stage, it should become rather clear which product is the correct product for your facility.
8. Get hard bid for your project with details that you have selected.
These details could include court sizes and colors (field, border, circles, etc.). Don't forget to factor in any special custom logos that you want added, as well as game lines required (basketball, volleyball, etc. and colors for game lines).
9. Are bids within expected budget? 
If so, approve and begin enjoying your new facility. If not, determine why and make adjustments, such as different product or fewer add-ons.

Steve Frailey has more than 25 years of experience as a resilient flooring specialist. He is the owner of Specialty Floors, an independent sales agency specializing in sports and recreation flooring, www.spflooring.com.

Case Study
Bent Tree Bible Fellowship
Carollton, Texas

Members of the Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Church in Carollton, Texas, are not the only ones reaping the benefit of their high-performance sports floor. The new 16,000-square-foot gym and multipurpose space welcomes members of the community for volleyball tournaments and recreational and league basketball games and practices.

Shortly after the gym opened in February, Bent Tree's members danced on the Taraflex Sports Flooring surface at a Valentine's Day Sock Hop, and the youth congregation began using it for their twice weekly activities. According to Dennis Richards, Bent Tree's director of communications, the long list of other planned programs include dinners, birthday parties, concerts, plays, and overflow space for worship services.

"We really want this to be a gymnasium, but we want it to be multipurpose as well," said Richards. "We use it as a gymnasium and then set up chairs and tables without damaging the floor." 

The decision to install Taraflex Sport M Plus came after the six members of "the interiors team" spent hours touring other facilities with applications similar to what they were planning and speaking with facility managers and maintenance staff. The team relied on the expertise of one member with a strong sports background. The interiors team members invested their time because they wanted to choose the best flooring.

"We wanted to make sure we had the right product for the right application," said Richards.

So, the group took a mini-tour of different size and use facilities in Texas that had Taraflex floors installed from one to seven years earlier. The stops included the Bethesda Community Church in Haltom City, E.M. Daggett Elementary School in Fort Worth, Stipes Elementary School in Irving, and Life School of Dallas.

Facility managers and maintenance staff spoke directly to the team members and answered their questions about maintenance routines and costs, durability, and usage in their facility. The mini-tour gave them the opportunity to see how the floor held up under heavy usage with permanent telescopic bleachers, high traffic, and the creative ways it was installed. What they learned was very important.

"Maintenance is a huge issue for us," said Richards referring to the size of Bent Tree.  "The Taraflex product got rave reviews. Now we are getting really good feedback from our maintenance staff."

The church is in the midst of an 180,000-square-foot expansion project. Although the gym has been available for activities since February 3, it will not be considered formally open until the grand opening, which is expected to take place in September. That is when the two years of expansion and renovation of the entire campus is scheduled to be completed.

The gym's Maple Design floor has a red center court jump circle and keys. The game lines for basketball are black, white for the two volleyball courts, and yellow and black for the 16' by 4' four-square game section.

Taraflex Sport M Plus delivers performance, comfort, 35% shock absorption and correct coefficient of friction for rapid movements. Gerflor's Taraflex environmentally friendly flooring meets and exceeds the stringent performance standards mandated by all major flooring associations and can contribute credits to LEED certification, www.gerflortaraflex.com. Vector Concepts of Irving, Texas, www.vectorconcepts.com, installed the Taraflex flooring.

Product Roundup

Action Floor
Action Floor Systems, a leading supplier of premium maple sports floors and synthetic multiuse surfaces, offers the industry's only water-based, solvent-free, synthetic polyurethane top coat. The environmentally friendly Action Herculan top coat requires no masks or building evacuation during application. Herculan is a high-performance, monolithic, nonporous floor. It's an ideal choice for multiuse applications with the performance characteristics you want in a quality athletic floor, and the durability and versatility to handle non-sports uses.

LG RexCourt Resilient Sports Flooring from Gerbert
Find out what numerous churches already know: LG RexCourt is the ultimate multi-purpose flooring solution. LG RexCourt offers the look of hard wood with unmatched shock absorption, elasticity and stability, superior noise level reduction, and great style. RexCourt is engineered for outstanding durability with a special polyurethane coating for easy maintenance and economical, long-lasting good looks. And, the exclusive antibacterial surface coating provides a healthier environment for everyone. Gerbert Limited is the exclusive U.S. distributor of LG RexCourt sports floors.

PROTECT-ALL from Oscoda Plastics
PROTECT-ALL is a commercial-grade flooring material made from 100% recycled vinyl. Certified by the National Floor Safety Institute, PROTECT-ALL Commercial Flooring helps to reduce slips and falls. A full quarter inch thick, PROTECT-ALL can withstand extreme weight loads and high-traffic patterns. PROTECT-ALL is available in eight colors, varying sheet sizes and thicknesses with matte or texture top surfaces, and an optional factory applied gloss finish. It is also available in interlocking and square tiles.

Robbins Pulastic Floors
Pulastic floors deliver decades of durability and superior wear resistance for any indoor application. All Pulastic systems feature high-quality polyurethane resin and a resurfaceable wear layer, providing ideal traction, correct ball rebound and excellent shock and sound absorption. Pulastic floors meets LEED Certification requirements for use of recycled products and are free of mercury, lead and other heavy materials.  Pulastic is strong enough to stand up to heavy tables, chairs and bleacher loads, all while offering a surface that is comfortable and long lasting.

Boflex Sport Floor from Centaur
Centaur Floor Systems offers its Boflex Sport Floor, an ultimate choice in pre-finished, high-performance hardwood gymnasium floor systems. Using a patented resilient foam channel understructure, Boflex exceeds all the requirements of D.I.N. standards, making it a leader in shock absorption, resilience, performance, and safety. The shock absorption channels allow even small children or lightweight athletes to gain immediate resilience.

ACTION MAPLE SmartCourt by Flex Court
ACTION MAPLE SmartCourt is the latest technology of Modular Athletic and Recreational Flooring Solutions by Flex Court Athletics. ACTION MAPLE SmartCourt reduces stress and strain in joints from shock absorption in the 22% resilience achieved with a 3mm underpad. ACTION MAPLE has very low installation costs and no maintenance. In the event damage does occur, only the damaged tiles need to be replaced. Tiles can be changed in a matter of seconds, at the cost of a single tile only. 

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