Have you ever wondered how a hardwood sport surface will perform after 10, 20 or 30 years? That has been a topic of interest within ASET Services for a number of years. We recently had the opportunity to explore this question when we were asked to test an 8 year old hardwood court at a NCAA Division I college. To be clear, this is a single case study, and should be viewed as such. Some systems and installations likely perform much closer to their specified levels after 8 years of use than this one did.
We were able to compare the surface’s current performance levels to those included in the specification. We were not able to determine by how much, or even if, the performance had changed from the time of installation, because it was not commission tested upon installation. Commission testing of indoor surfaces is very rare within North America. Even with those limitations, the results were interesting.
We were able to establish that the sport surface performance was specified as being a ‘DIN Certified’ system under the 2001 version commonly used in North America. That means that every point tested on the system is required to produce a minimum Force Reduction of 53%, and a minimum Vertical Deformation of 2.3 mm; both represent the requirements for an area elastic (or wood) sport surface. After 8 years of use, the average Force Reduction was 44%, and and average vertical deformation of 1.2 mm. The maximum force reduction produced on the system was 48%, and the minimum Force Reduction produced was 42%. The maximum vertical deformation was 1.4 mm and the minimum Vertical Deformation of 1.2 mm.
After 8 years, the surface produced force reduction levels that were as much as 11% below those originally claimed by the manufacturer, and vertical deformation levels that were nearly 50% below those claimed by the manufacturer. In fairness, there is nothing in the DIN 18032-2 standard that states that the floor must achieve those performance levels for a certain time frame. A floor could theoretically provide those numbers for as little as a week and still comply with the standard. However they are concerning:
- If we assume the floor delivered the specified performance when it was new, then we could expect these values to continue to deteriorate over the life of the floor.
- If we assume that the performance of the floor has not deteriorated significantly since the installation, then it is unlikely that it ever delivered the specified performance.
- When you consider that this court is only 8 years old and that many NCAA courts are used for 30 years, it becomes apparent how important it is for sport surfaces to perform as specified and for them to maintain their performance for the lifetime of the surface.
As owners and architects select new sports surfaces and develop specifications, they should review traditional ‘copy and paste’ specifications and verify that they adequately cover performance. We developed a website specifically designed to address addressing actual performance within specifications. Visit www.aset-trueperformance.com to see example specifications for hardwood, synthetic, turf, and playgrounds.
We also have an article on our site that provides some of the common reasons that an indoor sport surface may not deliver the same results in the field and in the lab. That article can be found here. As always, feel free to contact ASET Services with any sport surface related questions or to schedule a field test or inspection.