This is the second part of a two-part article about protecting gym floors by using mats.

Although gymnasiums are primarily associated with sporting events, many facilities use their gymnasiums for graduations, assemblies, concerts, elections, church meetings and other events that subject the floors to far more damaging wear than athletes driving to the hoop in their sneakers. Thankfully, solutions are available to keep these surfaces intact no matter what kind of punishment they take.

The simplest solution for covering a gymnasium floor is to use canvas, similar to how a baseball field is covered with a tarpaulin to protect it from rain or snow. Unfortunately, though, this can lead to more problems than it solves. For example, no one walks on the tarpaulin on a baseball field, whereas everyone will be walking on this canvas. If the canvas isn’t secured, it might roll or fold, creating a tripping risk. What’s more, while a canvas will protect against scuffs, it doesn’t provide good drop protection should someone, say, knock over a chair or table.

Two types of alternatives exist. First, there’s a gym floor cover made of plastic or vinyl-coated polyester, which comes in rolls as large as facilities need them to be.

“The material is available in different weights — from 10 ounces to 32 ounces — and that weight affects price, quality and installation,” says Durette. “It’s not very attractive, but it’s virtually stain proof.”

Both smooth and slip-resistant surfaces are available, and, according to Durette, they can last three to 10 years, depending on the quality and amount of use.

Two installers are needed to unroll and place the material, and the seams should be taped down to avoid tripping hazards. One drawback to using these covers is that facilities need a storage rack to accommodate the rolls, which can take up a lot of space; once the event is finished and any debris has been swept away, users roll sections of the floor back onto these racks.

“There are a variety of additional accessories you can purchase that will help save some manual labor and time, such as an electric power winder, self-cleaning brush attachment, walk-behind tape dispenser, cover cleaner — and there’s even a cover for the cover system,” says Durette.

The second solution when needing a floor covering for non-sporting events is giant polypropylene tiles that are installed one tile at a time.

“You can cover a half-court with canvas or something on a roll, but with the tiles you can create whatever configuration you want,” says Andersen. He estimates that facilities need 420 two-foot-square tiles to cover a basketball court, and these tiles are normally stored on carts in stacks of roughly one hundred tiles — which allows for easier storage compared to rolls since the carts can be moved and rearranged as needed.

Only one installer is needed since the tiles weigh only about 10 pounds each, though obviously installation goes faster with additional people on the job.

“Depending on frequency of use, tiles have a 15 to 20-plus year lifespan,” says Durette. “The tile cover price is approximately 1-1/2 times higher than the plastic rolls, but they will last five times longer.”

Sideline Safety

Even when a gymnasium is being used for its intended purpose, special protection for the floors can still be an issue.

“Most gymnasiums have drinking fountains,” says Mills, “so you want some kind of wet-area mat under the fountain, whether carpet mat or scraper mat, to provide traction.”

If the gymnasium bleachers regularly stay out for spectator use, cleaning crews might leave a protective film underneath these areas all the time, changing them every six months or so. This film will protect the floor in case spectators spill food or beverages in the bleachers, which could harm the floor underneath.

In addition, placing a rubber runner along the sidelines before and after a game gives the visitors an alternative surface to walk on instead of directly on the gym floor.

Sideline protection can also be an issue during the game itself depending on what teams set up in their sideline space.

“Folding chairs can leave residual indentation markings on wood flooring,” says Durette, so consider using sideline mats to protect these well-trafficked areas. “Creating a custom sideline with the team name or mascot is also a great option.”

One final issue that arises with the protection of gymnasium floors is how to handle doors that lead directly into the gymnasium space. In such cases, facilities need to have almost all of the matting outside the building, with visitors being directed into the building in the “correct” order to remove debris and moisture. If it is not possible to guarantee the removal of all moisture, avoid using sticky mats since water on sticky mats might simply leave visitors with wet, slippery shoes.

Ideally, though, says Durette, you can set up restrictions that keep side doors used solely for exiting.

W. Eric Martin is a freelancer in Apex, North Carolina.

previous page of this article:
Gym Floor Protection Starts Outside The Gym