If you are looking at purchase options for a new gym floor, then you have probably already considered hardwood. Hardwood is a great choice, especially if the floor will be used to host athletic competitions. For basketball and volleyball, few, if any, options can exceed the performance offered by a traditional hardwood floor.
However, buying a hardwood floor isn't necessarily an easy decision as there are variables involved that make the process a deliberative one. Below are three of these factors and other things you should know about hardwood floor selection, installation, finishing, and maintenance.
1. Choosing a Wood Species and Grade
The most common hardwood used on gym floors is maple. This wood has served the test of time in thousands of gym floors, and most people don't tend to look at alternatives. However, if you are interested in exploring other options, oak and ash are also commonly used and can make excellent floors.
In addition to the species of wood, you will need to decide what grade of wood to purchase. For example, the clearest maple floors are made from the highest grade of wood that has been selected for its aesthetic qualities.
However, you can take advantage of cost savings by purchasing a lower grade of maple, and your gym floor will be just as sound as one made from first-grade maple if you don't object to minor imperfections and color differences.
2. Potential for Exposure to Moisture
Wood and water don't mix well, so moisture exposure is an important factor to consider when going through the hardwood floor selection and installation process. Even if you don't expect your hardwood floor to receive a lot of direct water contact, ambient moisture can cause real problems for unprotected gym floors.
For example, gym floors located in close proximity to swimming pools or in humid, non-air conditioned facilities, are likely to expand to a much greater degree than usual. Expansion can be managed, but special installation techniques will need to be used to allow free movement.
In addition, if you are experiencing unresolved moisture problems in your facility, be sure to find solutions before having a floor installed. Investing in a new hardwood floor, only to have to pull it up for major repairs in a couple of seasons, is a waste of your resources.
3. Finishing the Floor
Another factor to keep in mind as you install a new gym floor is deciding how the wood will be finished. The finishing process includes not only adding a protective layer but also how game lines and boundaries will be marked.
One choice you will need to make is whether the floor will be finished using oil-based or water-based products. Oil finishes are the older of the two types of finishes, and they offer a darker, traditional look when aged. However, some oil-based finishes may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals may be regulated in your area, which would make the use of oil-based finishes impractical.
The good news is that water-based finishes have significantly advanced over the past few decades and can provide excellent results. The finish will probably be lighter in tone than traditional oil, but many people are happy to make that trade-off.
In addition to the finish, you will also need to make decisions about lines and markings. For mixed-used gym floors, you may wish to consider placing lines and markings using tape, since it is easily removed.
However, keep in mind that tape can interfere with gameplay and the floor may require reconditioning in the areas where the tape was used. Pre-painted lines are more permanent, but they blend better with the floor and avoid the pitfalls associated with taping floors.
If you have questions about purchasing a hardwood gym floor, be sure to contact Traditional Hardwood Floors for help. Our expert staff can provide answers you need to make the best decision. We can also install the floor you choose.