As a club operator, your flooring needs are varied and many, ranging from wood courts to turf and more. Here, we spoke with flooring professionals about what to keep in mind when making a flooring choice, current trends and common mistakes.
Sports Sales Manager
Junckers Hardwood Inc.
What questions should club owners ask when making a wood court flooring choice? 1. How thick is the wood floor “system?” Hardwood sports flooring systems can often be 2-inches to 3-inches thick. If it’s a new club, these thick systems can be accommodated with a slab recess during construction. If it’s an existing facility without a slab recess, planning for ADA ramping to adjacent floors will need to be addressed.
2. How much time is needed for installation? Installation time frames can have impacts on the project. Some wood floor systems are ready for use in just a day or two. Other systems can take weeks before they are ready for use. Be sure to confirm the time needed when comparing systems.
3. Is there a value in the floor system if I should ever need to move it, or remove it? If the club space is leased, it might be smart to consider purchasing a “relocatable” or portable hardwood sports floor. This way the flooring investment can be recovered if plans change down the road.
What are some common mistakes you see clubs making with floors? 1. Solid hardwood sports floors will always expand and contract as the climate changes. In large areas, this movement can be significant. Be sure to allow room at the perimeter for this natural movement to occur.
2. In addition to a nicer appearance, clean floors actually last longer. Implementing a good maintenance program where the floors are kept consistently clean and dry will make the floors last for decades.
What wood court flooring trends are you seeing right now? I’m seeing more and more “branding” in hardwood floor design. The logos in the center jump circles are larger and more creative. Dyes, stains and even patterns are also being incorporated into floor systems to create uniqueness and brand identity.
What other tips or advice could you provide club operators on wood courts? You get what you pay for. Think of a hardwood sports floor as a 50-year investment. Paying more for a time-proven product, system and warranty is money well spent. On the other hand, trying to make a “regular wood floor” into a sports floor system is setting yourself up for problems.
What questions should club owners ask when making a rubber flooring choice? Is this flooring just for selectorized and cardio equipment? If so, you can usually get away with a basic and inexpensive alternative. But if it is for a free weight area, you’ll probably want to invest in a thicker rubber, which protects both the subfloor and your weights from damage when the weights get dropped (and they will get dropped).
Sound transmission is often a consideration too, as dropping weights will be heard below if you’re on an upper floor. Even on a ground floor, the adjacent facility can often hear and feel the vibrations of dropped weights if improper flooring is used.
What are some common mistakes you see clubs making with rubber flooring? Using inadequate flooring in free weight areas. I’ve seen a number of clubs utilize cheap agricultural mats in free weight areas, thinking that their thickness (often ¾ inches or thicker) will be adequate, or using regular 3/8-inches of rolled rubber in these areas. Three-eighths of an inch is just not enough to protect the floor. And with black agricultural mats, the rubber tends to be so densely packed into those sheets that it provides virtually no shock absorption.
What rubber flooring trends are you seeing right now? Until the last couple of years, club owners were simply interested in rolls of speckled rubber that was 3/8-inches thick. It was what nearly everyone had. But recently, buyers have been more interested in thicker rubber for even cardio and selectorized areas — typically ½-inches up to 1-inch or more. Also, solid colored rubber floors have gained popularity again, as a way of differentiating from the rest of the market, which has had speckled colors for years.
What other tips or advice could you provide club operators on rubber flooring? When we talk to people about floors, the first question we ask is: What is the intended use of the floor? It’s always best to envision everything that you could possibly need the flooring for, no matter what area you’re talking about. In group exercise, will you be doing just yoga in that room, or will there be occasional Zumba classes? Because Zumba is going to need a more specialized floor than just yoga.
I also like the space to be as flexible over the long term as possible, so we’re proponents of buying flooring that does not need to be permanent, so that if you want to rearrange your space, or even move to another location, you have the flexibility to do so.
Director of Marketing
What questions should club owners ask when making a multipurpose flooring choice? With your surface being one of your most significant expenses, be sure to do your homework on warranty, maintenance requirements and durability. Ensure the manufacturer can also provide you with performance tests on their product — these should also include acoustical testing results. Sound mitigation is a growing concern with facilities located in densely populated, multi-level or multi-unit structures.
What are some common mistakes you see clubs making with multipurpose floors? Perhaps one of the most common mistakes is letting cost drive your purchase. An inexpensive product will most likely fall short on warranty, durability and product efficacy. You want a product that will perform well and be able to endure the type of abuse that these facilities dole out daily.
What multipurpose flooring trends are you seeing right now? Anything new? Some manufacturers allow customers to customize the final appearance of the wear layer of their surface. If you want to tie in the interior decor colors of your club or your equipment, you can customize your very own surface to compliment your interior space.
What other tips or advice could you provide club operators on multipurpose flooring? Begin with the end in mind. With many facilities, resilient surfacing is often an afterthought or one of your last purchases after you’ve already exceeded your budget. The reality is, a great surface will be one of your most significant purchases, so plan accordingly. During your planning phase, pay close attention to not only your space, but adjacent spaces, and be mindful of neighboring businesses or tenants. Consult a sound expert to ensure the product you select is fit for the application. Any reputable manufacturer will be able to provide you with acoustical testing results.
Vice President of Sales
What questions should club owners ask when making a turf choice? It might seem odd or even counterintuitive at first, but due to the trends in the industry and how people are wanting to train now, the single most important question a facility owner can ask is not, “Do I have enough equipment?” but rather, “Do I have enough open functional space?” At PLAE, we’ve helped design hundreds of facilities all across the world, and we’ve yet to hear someone complain that they have too much turf or open space. We do, however, hear people say they wish they had more all the time.
What are some common mistakes you see clubs making with turf? When a facility owner is looking to purchase a new flooring product, the entire system needs to be taken into account, not just the part you see. It’s easy to only be concerned with the top layer of a flooring system, but in reality, it’s the fiber type along with the backing layer the fibers are tufted into, the type of cushion or impact layer underneath, and then how all those layers are put together, that impact the performance of the turf system. If any one of those things doesn’t perform like it should, it could result in a flooring system that leads to athlete injury or a system that requires costly repairs or replacement.
What turf trends are you seeing right now? Anything new? As technology continues to advance, the flooring industry is reaping the benefits of those advancements. Concerns over athlete safety, along with interest in performance characteristics and aesthetic appeal have continued to evolve this category of product. New types of infill to reduce outdoor turf temperatures, shock pads that reduce impact from the body, and even synthetic turf that looks almost like real grass are definitely trending currently.
What other tips or advice could you provide club operators on turf? When it comes to flooring in general, facility and club owners have traditionally treated flooring as an afterthought. More thought and focus is placed on the type of equipment that an owner is placing in their facility than the floor. The truth is, making the investment in a quality floor is the best investment an owner can make. You wouldn’t continue building the walls and ceiling of a facility if its foundation wasn’t secure, so why should a facility owner settle for a cheap flooring system upon which everything else in his or her facility will be built upon? Making the investment in a quality floor is ensuring your athletes or members are training in a safe environment, and is contributing to the overall performance of your facility.
Vice President of Marketing & Business Development
What questions should club owners ask when making a sustainable flooring choice? Sustainability is an interesting word that has been misinterpreted in our industry for years. I suggest that club owners separate this word into two parts: “sustain” and “ability.” I think the primary question is how well a particular surface sustains the ability of members to participate. How can a floor do more to make the fitness environment better for people? At Ecore, we focus on safety, ergonomics and acoustics. Fitness flooring is not created equal when it comes to these critical performance characteristics.
The environmental or “green” connotation of sustainable is a much different story. At Ecore, we transform reclaimed waste into performance surfaces to make people’s lives better. When looking at other surfacing manufacturers that claim to be sustainable, be sure to investigate where they are sourcing their materials and how they are being manufactured. We use a food-grade process to clean, screen and grind our rubber to create superior surfacing.
What are some common mistakes you see clubs making with sustainable flooring? I think club owners over estimating the quality of their maintenance and janitorial staff is a common mistake. Another related mistake is not considering the environmental impacts of the actual cleaning solutions being used on the floors.
What sustainable flooring trends are you seeing right now? Anything new? Customers expect club owners to provide them with the best surfaces possible. The right look and color help to motivate and train people, while bold colors and custom logos can inspire. Specifying a variety of surfaces — from resilient and soft surfaces to specialty slip-resistant floors — adds interest and a tailored approach to your customers’ needs.
What other tips or advice could you provide club operators on sustainable flooring? Fitness is evolving. The current fitness trends are moving away from stationary cardio and selectorized equipment in a crowded space to members working out in more open areas for functional training and group fitness. These new spaces allow members to tailor body-centric movement. This trend puts more emphasis on the flooring, because it really becomes the primary piece of equipment. If your members matter, then the flooring they train on matters.
In order to keep the customer satisfied and healthy, it’s also important to choose a floor that can handle daily cleaning with an environmentally-friendly cleaner. Ecore Athletic resilient surfaces simply require soap and water, and our Speed & Agility Turf can be cleaned with a vacuum to remove debris.
The weightlifting area also needs to be able to handle heavy weight drops, ropes, medicine ball slams and jumping. The right floor should withstand all of these things, while providing a supportive foundation that is comfortable, ergonomic and quiet.