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How to Select a Multipurpose Floor
By: Steve Frailey and Catherine del Vecchio

When selecting multipurpose flooring for your worship facility, you must first organize your needs by listing and prioritizing all the things that you hope to do in this space. For example, activities might include youth meetings, dinners, banquets, assemblies, basketball, volleyball, bible classes, church services, indoor soccer, dodge ball, baby showers, bake sales, and wedding reception, among others.

The following is a step-by-step guide to ensure your facility is equipped with the best-performing, high-quality floor solution.

1. Prioritize your activities.
How many times each week will each event be conducted? It is common for time to be equally split or slightly higher for multipurpose activities vs. sports play.  

2. Research alternatives.
Flooring in todayís religious facilities must be versatile and able to accommodate recreation, social activities, and worship. A floor must perform well during multipurpose activities and still be safe for sports play, as well as aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain. Other items to consider include:

Multipurpose activity normally eliminates wood flooring as an option because it is not designed to handle multipurpose activities and will create a much higher maintenance cost due to refinishing requirements over its life cycle. 

Rubber flooring can handle multipurpose activities, but it has a high coefficient of friction for basketball, volleyball, and soccer; therefore, it is not a safe alternative. Coefficient of friction measures the grip and slide of a floor.

Poured in place flooring is a popular selection, but prices have increased to meet VOC (volatile organic chemical) requirements and are only available in solid colors. In addition, they require additional coating that can make it more expensive than the initial installed price.  

Snap-together tiles are inexpensive, but they donít have the playing characteristics or the image that most facilities are hoping to create.  

A popular selection is the high-image wood look of vinyl flooring with special backings to make it safe for sports play that also reduces noise with its excellent sound abatement qualities.

3. Consider the total cost of flooring.
All floors require cleaning, dusting, or mopping, but some require coating, sealing, and waxing that add more to the total annual maintenance cost. The most popular selections have a permanent or no wax finish that feature the new baked in urethane (wax) that requires only cleaning and rinsing, which can save thousands of dollars in cleaning costs over the life of the floor. Be sure to get budget costs of both installed price and expected maintenance costs so that you can make your selection based on the total cost needed to keep the product looking and playing great for the life of the project.

4. Determine products that make sense for your project and conduct a field trip.
Contact manufacturers and ask to see installations of similar settings.  It is recommended to view at least two installations that are three to five years old so that you can see how it will perform over time.  

Building committees are not specialists in multipurpose flooring, so they feel far more confident in selecting products that perform well in similar projects. Donít make the mistake of selecting flooring based on a 2-inch sample. Go see it in action! Select products with a history of success used in multipurpose areas.

5. Observe and ask questions on your field trip.
* How does the product look vs. submitted samples after regular use?
* Does it portray the image you are looking for on your project?
* How does it react for sports play, slip slide effect, ball bounce, etc.?              
* Is it safe; does it meet the new ASTM guide for safe sports flooring?                        
* How do they maintain it; what chemicals and equipment are necessary?                         
* How well does it handle multipurpose events?
* What type of tables and chairs are they using?                    
* What hoops or volleyball sleeves are they using? 
* What scoreboards are they using?
* How are they storing equipment and tables/chairs? 
* What game lines did they select?  

Check out details that will save you research time for the other details of your project. Use this opportunity to know exactly what to expect from your selection. You donít want to be a guinea pig for some new untested product. 
6. Beware of the pretenders.
Select a manufacturer that has many quality references in religious settings. Every area has specialists in religious facilities, so work with someone who understands your needs.

If you select a wood flooring substitute with the look of wood, make sure to see large pieces to ensure that the product selected really looks like wood and is made by using HD quality film.

Select the product that uses a pure vinyl wear layer. Manufacturers with this material will provide you with a warranty on pattern wear out, not just manufacturing defects.

Select a product with the baked in urethane that is UV cured to make it permanent. This means you arenít going to need waxes for the life of the product, which will lower total cost.

Look for a manufacturer with experience in making foam backing both for sports and for handling multipurpose sports play. A good option is the new dual durameter closed cell foam with fiberglas interlayer that provides energy return for sports and indention resistance to tables and chairs.

Steve Frailey of Specialty Floors is a multipurpose floor specialist and Gerflor Taraflex Sports Flooring agent, www.spflooring.com. Catherine del Vecchio is marketing manager for Gerflor North America, www.gerflorusa.com.

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Religious Product News