Gym class, lunch, volleyball practice, a basketball game, and a dance. The busy schedule of a high school student? No, the busy schedule of the school’s hardwood gym floor.

A hardwood floor is one of the most durable and resilient surfaces that can be installed into a school’s gymnasium. Gym floors are expensive, but they should last many years with appropriate cleaning and maintenance.

Daily cleaning is the most important because the floor can be damaged very quickly if dirt or grime is ground into the floor. This cleaning can be achieved by sweeping with a dust mop treated with an oil-based or water-based cleaner, as recommended by the floor’s manufacturer.

“A rule of thumb in high-use areas is the floor should be dust mopped every four hours to help protect the finish from damage,” says Eric Meadows, technical support advisor at Hillyard Inc. in St. Joseph, Mo.

On a weekly basis, floors need to be cleaned with a scrubbing tool, such as a damp mop or a walk-behind automatic scrubber, as well as a stronger cleaner that gives a more thorough cleaning to the floor than a dust mop.

“This weekly cleaning is important because it gets up those things like your soda spills, mud, etc., that your dust mopping just won’t get up,” says Meadows.

Annual Refinishing Annual maintenance consists of checking for any loose or cracked boards that need repairing or replacing as well as refinishing the floor. The first step in refinishing your gym floor is to check your local laws; in some states it is illegal to use oil-based finishes due to air-quality restrictions. Other product considerations are durability, drying time, color, and ease of use. Once you’ve decided on a specific product, contact the manufacturer for application specifications.

After these initial steps, the next process is to screen your floor.

“Screening is the process of roughing the existing finish with the use of a screen attached to a circular buffer. The idea is not to remove the finish to the wood but to rough up the finish to help the new finish adhere to the surface,” says William R. Griffin, Seattle-based author of Hard, Resilient, and Wood Floor Care. Griffin also is a consultant with “Although screening is desired in many cases, there are some new finishes on the market that do not require the screening process.”

The floor should sit overnight to let the dust settle; afterwards, any dust and loose particles should be swept up. It is at this point that the finish can be applied to the floor. These steps may be repeated for additional coats.

Gym Floors in Your Future? If you are considering offering gym- floor maintenance and cleaning, consider these points. Training is a very important; due to the extremely high cost of the floors, your staff must be informed. Most manufacturers of flooring and flooring products offer training, as do wood-flooring associations.

Another important aspect to the start-up process is acquiring the proper equipment. Be sure sanders, buffers and other equipment meet the manufacturers’ specifications, in order to to comply with the floors’ warranties.

“The most important thing you can do is be informed. Reading books ... along with the training provided by associations and manufacturers, can give you the knowledge needed to do the job correctly,” says Griffin.

D.M. Maas is a business writer in Bronx, N.Y.