High-Performance Flooring for Sports, Recreation, and Fitness Applications

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Sponsored by Ecore
By Kathy Price-Robinson

Free Weight Areas and Olympic Lifting Areas

Weight rooms are specialized training areas that must have an especially durable surface capable of supporting the heavy impact of weight-training and cardio equipment. Ultra-thick composition rubber molded tiles or multilayer engineered rubber surfaces are ideal choices for weight rooms because VCR provides superior durability and shock absorption. Moreover, if tiles are installed and an area is damaged or wears out, individual tiles can be replaced without the expense of the whole floor.

Recommended flooring characteristics:

  • Durable
  • Slip resistant
  • Scruff and indent resistant
  • Substrate crack suppression

Flooring options:

  • Good: 8-millimeter/14 -inch VCR
  • Better: 1-inch molded tile/10- to 15-millimeter high-density rolled VCR
  • Best: 20-millimeter or more dual durometer (a measure of hardness) rolled VCR

Indoor Courts

Indoor courts require a firm surface and an even density so every part of the playing surface responds with a consistent and energetic ball bounce. Vinyl surfacing that is fusion bonded to a VCR backing provides exceptional safety and performance for athletes on indoor courts by providing outstanding ball bounce while still providing good area elasticity to prevent impact injuries. The ideal flooring also allows better foot slide than many resilient surfaces, an important feature for fast-moving sports where a high coefficient of friction can lead to foot/knee-overturn injuries. This type of surfacing is durable and easy to install and maintain.

Recommended flooring characteristics:

  • Consistency
  • Superior foot slide
  • Durable
  • Scuff and indentation resistant

Flooring options:

  • Good: solid or engineered wood
  • Better: Class I for force-reduction synthetic court
  • Best: Class I for force-reduction synthetic high-pressure laminate

Indoor Tracks

For tracks, runners need a surface that does not absorb a lot of energy, and yet is not so hard that it will cause shin splints and other stress syndromes associated with running on hard surfaces. A dense engineered VCR surface provides an optimal choice for many indoor track applications.

Recommended flooring characteristics:

  • Durable
  • Cleanable
  • Scuff and indent resistant

Flooring options:

  • Good: pad and pour (urethane)
  • Better: poured-in-place rubber
  • Best: engineered rubber sheet with shock-absorbing underlayment

Indoor Turf Fields

Synthetic turf with a VCR backing works well on indoor fields for competitive hockey, lacrosse, and soccer as well as for indoor sports training facilities. The wear layer should be durable enough for heavy-training activities, such as football conditioning using speed drags and blocking sleds, as well as spike resistant.

Recommended flooring characteristics:

  • Purpose (speed and agility, functional, and body weight training)
  • Coefficient of friction
  • Cleanable

Flooring options:

  • Good: multipurpose slit film with infill
  • Better: multipurpose non-infill system
  • Best: turf fabric/non-infill system with shock-absorbing VCR underlayment

Synthetic turf with a VCR backing is durable enough for pushing sleds or using speed drags.

Group Fitness/Dance/Spin/Yoga/Exercise

Group exercise, dance, yoga, and spin rooms require both durability and resilience. The trend for these spaces is moving away from vinyl with a foam underlayment to an engineered vinyl with a VCR backing for better performance. These applications are also moving away from wood and opting for engineered vinyl with a VCR backing because it holds up better and requires less maintenance.

Recommended flooring characteristics:

  • Nonporous
  • Cleanable
  • Seamless
  • Durable (free weights and potential for bike cleats)

Flooring options:

  • Good: luxury vinyl tile/sheet vinyl/wood
  • Better: Class I sports floor
  • Best: Class II sports floor
    Note: The surface needs to pass all four criteria of ASTM F2772 to be considered a “sports floor” under this standard.

Bathrooms/Locker Rooms

Rather than being an afterthought, bathrooms and locker rooms are a major element of any fitness or recreation center. The ideal flooring will be easy to clean, resist microbial growth, and provide superior slip resistance to keep users safe.

Recommended flooring characteristics

  • Nonporous/sanitary/antimicrobial
  • Slip resistant
  • Cleanable
  • Welded seams/seamless floor

Flooring options:

  • Good: ceramic/porcelain tile
  • Better: vinyl or VCR sheet
  • Best: seamless and slip-resistant VCR with Class 1 force reduction

The flooring for exercise rooms should be durable, seamless, and easily cleaned.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in May 2021