Maple flooring has been the ideal choice for sports and athletic facilities for more than a century due to its strength, durability and beauty. It is also an excellent choice for multipurpose facilities that host more than sporting events.
Maple’s versatility and aesthetic qualities make it a wise choice for elementary schools, middle and high schools, college recreation facilities, YMCAs, family centers, churches, aerobic and dance rooms and military bases. Correctly specified, installed and maintained, maple floors can provide a dependable flooring surface for more than 60 years, despite varied uses.
Northern hard maple is an organic product consisting of patterns of fibers and air pockets that give it a natural shock-absorbing quality. These characteristics, combined with specially designed and engineered subfloor systems, deliver performance and safety ideally suited for a variety of sporting and non-sporting activities.
Because multipurpose floors differ immensely from strictly sports floors, it is critical that architects identify the intended functions of the room and select the proper subfloor system. This is especially true for elementary and high school gyms.
Before you specify an MFMA floor for a multipurpose room:
- Specify a reputable hardwood sports flooring contractor with significant experience in projects of similar size and scope to yours.
- Determine who will be using this floor.
- Determine what activities will be performed on the surface.
- Specify a subfloor system that matches the floor’s designated primary activity.
- Specify any changes to the specified subfloor system and the locations of those changes.
- Specify pre-installation conditions of the room, including fully functioning HVAC, constant temperature and humidity, weather tightness.
- Specify industry-recognized installation guidelines throughout process.
- Specify following the same post-installation maintenance procedures.
Once your floor is installed, it might need minor additional care because of varied use. Daily sweeping, dust mopping with a treated dust mop and cleaning up spills are all that is required to maintain the beauty of a multipurpose maple floor.
If your floor will have furniture, rolling equipment or heavy foot traffic with street shoes, consider the following:
Proper Coatings for Multipurpose Surfaces
The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association has published specifications for gymnasium sealers and finishes for maple floors and lists products that conform to such specifications for the sole purpose of providing guidance to achieving the highest protection and most enduring beauty in wood floors.
All of the finishes listed on the MFMA Athletic Flooring Sealer and Finish Specifications and Conformance List are tested for conditions normally associated with a multipurpose floor. Such tests include: Gloss, Color, Hardness, Abrasion Resistance, Stain Resistance and Alcohol, Beer and Coca-Cola Resistance. When selecting a floor finish for a multipurpose floor, make sure that the product is MFMA-certified.
Floor covers are not always needed in multipurpose rooms, but they offer an extra layer of protection and help keep your multipurpose maple floor looking its best. Several manufacturers produce gymnasium floor covers for extra protection that come in a range of styles and thicknesses.
The differences among covers include thickness of the vinyl wear coating and the strength of the fabric core. When evaluating a cover for durability, remember that the more durable covers have thicker coatings. Covers with higher strength core fabric will resist more abuse and tearing.
Check and clean wheels. Nylon, plastic and metal wheels on storage carts, bleacher wheels and portable backstops can cause scuffmarks and scratches. Cleaning wheels, removing rocks and other hard debris, and making sure that the wheels roll easily will minimize potential damage.
The type of furniture used in a facility should be carefully selected. Folding chairs and tables that are set up and taken down frequently can be a nightmare for any type of flooring in multipurpose spaces. Be sure that rubber caps are maintained and in place on all legs before use to avoid scratching the maple flooring.
To ensure the continuing performance and beauty of your MFMA maple floor, follow the maintenance tips below.
Six Steps for Proper Daily Maintenance
- Sweep the floor daily with a properly treated dust mop. If the floor is used heavily, sweep it up to three times per day.
- Wipe up spills and any moisture on the floor.
- Remove heel marks using an approved floor cleaner applied with a soft cloth or dusting mop. Contact your floor finish manufacturer for approved cleaning products.
- Make sure the heating/ventilating/air conditioning system is functioning properly and set to maintain indoor relative humidities between 35 percent and 50 percent year round. In areas of consistently high or low outside humidity, a 15 percent fluctuation will not adversely affect the maple.
- Inspect floor for tightening or shrinkage. Check for water leakage around doors and windows during wet weather. Remove debris from expansion voids.
- Always protect the floor when moving heavy portable equipment or lifts. Ensure portable equipment does NOT have crowned wheels or wheels that include center ridges remaining from the molding process. These types of wheels can create very significant point loads.
- NEVER Do the Following to Your MFMA Maple Floor
- NEVER shut down the ventilating system in your facility for a prolonged period of time.
- NEVER use household cleaning products or procedures. They can be harmful to the floor finish and to the wood. They may also leave floors sticky or slippery, and potentially harmful to people walking on the floor. Your MFMA floor finish manufacturer will recommend the right cleaning and maintenance materials for your MFMA floor.
- NEVER clean your MFMA floor using scrubbing machinery or power scrubbers that use water. Water is your floor’s worst enemy!
- NEVER attempt to modify or repair your MFMA multipurpose floor without first consulting your MFMA contractor.
This information is courtesy of the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association, www.maplefloor.org. Founded in 1897, the MFMA is the authoritative source of technical information about hard maple flooring.