Indoor Courts: Reasons they may not perform to specified levels

During the past 3 years we’ve tested 16 new hardwood sports surfaces, none of them have fully met the specified performance levels.

Throughout our involvement in sport and play surfacing we’ve encountered several indoor surfaces that failed to perform to specified levels. Regardless of the performance levels you select and the standard you choose to apply to your project, there are a number of reasons why it may not perform to your specified levels. This is true for all of the key indoor sports (basketball, volleyball, aerobics, and even dance floors) standards used in North America; DIN 18032-2, EN 14904, MFMA PUR™, ASTM F2772 or ANSI E1.26.

Uneven playing surface: Possible causes, concrete too wet at install, subfloor flooded during install, improper subfloor installation: Result was a dead-spot
Uneven playing surface: Possible causes, concrete too wet at install, subfloor flooded during install, improper subfloor installation: Result was a dead-spot

Here are just a few of the situations we have encountered that cause actual performance levels to be significantly different than the levels specified.

  • Finish bonding – finishing wood courts can bond rows together and flooring to the sub-floor resulting in as much as a 10% reduction in force reduction. Solution – An vibrating roller was used to break the finish bonds and the system was retested to verify that proper performance was restored.
  • Improper components – improper anchors shipped to job-site causing reduction in force reduction and vertical deformation. Solution – A method for removing anchors, and installing proper anchors was developed to deliver the proper performance levels.
  • Improper installation – end joints located closer together than lab sample reducing uniformity, far fewer nails installed than in the lab sample, failure to nail individual boards and or complete rows of flooring, synthetic components installed with thicknesses and methods that don’t match those used for the lab sample. Solution – Nothing was done to restore performance levels on these sites, because many of these conditions were only found after total system failure.
  • Failure to properly check and or correct the slab flatness – The resulting elevation changes cause dead spots and hard spots. Solution – Expanding urethane was put beneath the system in critical low spots to restore ball rebound, this did sacrifice force reduction by implementing this solution.
  • Failure to have permanent HVAC operational – causing rapid extreme expansion splintering boards if temporary HVAC is  shut off, causing boards not to acclimate properly and result in large gaps or compression cupping. Solution – The most extreme case of this that we have been involved in resulted in a surface with numerous splinters, ultimately resulting in an injury. Unable to get the damage repaired  meant that total replacement was required.
  • Failure to follow specification (have permanent exterior doors and windows installed / failure to check slab moisture / failure to properly install vapor barrier)  – can result in elevated humidity levels or even flooding prior to or during installation which lead to moisture problems. Problems can result from moisture being absorbed into the concrete and not allowing enough time for it to evaporate before installing flooring over the concrete. Solution: There have been a wide range solutions, from areas repaired, areas replaced, and total replacement due to these conditions.
  • Component Switch: Supplying suitability reports indicating the system meets a key standard (DIN 18032-2 as an example), but switching out critical components (often switching from 25/32″ maple to 33/32″ maple) that significantly alter the performance of the system. Solution: In all of these cases the owner accepted the reduced force reduction, vertical deflection levels for the thicker maple, but they were not notified of the performance changes prior to field testing determining that the surfaces did not meet the specification. The other two options would have been total replacement with proper flooring, or a partial refund for performance that failed to meet the specification.
  • Misrepresentation: We tested one installation only to find out later that not only had the system never passed DIN 18032-2, but it had never even been tested.

If the performance of your sport or play surface is important to you, contact us to learn how a ‘True Performance’ field test can verify that the proper performance is delivered to your new installation, or that your current installation still performs at the warrantied level.

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