True Performance: Courts

GE DIGITAL CAMERAPerformance standards for indoor courts were introduced to North America in the early 1980’s. During the three decades that have followed the indoor court industry has seen radical changes. There are now no fewer than 6 standards used to evaluate performance, and new system designs deliver performance levels often beyond what was thought possible in the early years.During these 30+ years one thing has not changed; testing has remained isolated to the lab, and systems offer no guaranteed performance levels that will be achieved actual installations.  Today’s specifications not only avoid addressing actual performance levels but they often specify that the only place the surface is required to perform is in the lab.

hardwoodcard004Consider for a moment why performance levels are even specified? They are a reflection of what you and your architect believe are important, and a reflection of the performance you expect to be delivered to your facility. Every owner and architect we have ever discussed this with has told us that  they expect the specified performance values to be delivered to their installation. The reality is that many in the sport surface industry feel that they have met your expectations when they delivered the performance report or certificate during the submittal process.

You will often find language like: “Flooring system shall have been independently tested …..” in product and project specifications. Simply changing the specification to “‘This installation may be tested at the request of the owner/architect….”  removes some of the ambiguity. Knowing the True Performance of your court is the only way to be sure that it performs and protects as promised during the sales process. We will gladly work with owners and architects to develop specifications that require high level performance in the lab, while establishing minimum accepted performance in the field.

Facilities that support elite play often underestimate the importance of their floor’s ‘True Performance.’ Floors that fail to meet specified levels  may result limited practice time elevated risk of injury.  A True Performance testing program can ensure that your court protects your athletes, students and community as promised. While multi-use facilities, such as YMCA’s, Elementary, Middle, and High Schools don’t support elite athletes, most fail to consider the number of lives their floors will impact. Consider that an indoor court at a high-school with and enrollment of 500 would touch between 25,000 and 35,000 lives during its lifespan depending on use. Furthermore they fail to consider that a comfortable court can extend active lifestyles for several years benefiting the community in better health but generating additional income by expanding the number of participants within the community. The importance of True Performance becomes clearer when you consider how a properly performing sports surface can impact the health of the users, and the revenue generated that is related to that surface.

So what are some of the reasons for ‘True Performance’ to vary from your specifications? We thought we’d provide you with a partial list. We have encountered every item on this list and while its far from an exhaustive list it starts to represent how the True Performance of your court could be VERY different from the performance in the lab :

Installation Issues

  • Alternate System Submitted –  We have seen floors submitted and presented as meeting a DIN 18032-2 specification when the configuration has never been tested. By the way these floors were also installed.
  • 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
  • Improper components – improper anchors shipped to job-site causing reduction in force reduction and vertical deformation, sub-floor systems nailed with multiple and improper fasteners
  • 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, design with inability to duplicate laboratory anchor positions in the field
  • Failure to properly check and or correct the slab flatness – The resulting elevation changes cause dead spots and hard spots
  • 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
  • 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 flooding prior to or during installation and lead to moisture problems. Problems include expansion, buckling of plywood, blackened boards at end joints due to moisture, mold

The performance of your hardwood court impacts a large population, and True Performance testing is the only way to be certain that your floor performs and protects as promised. Contact us today to develop your custom True Performance program for your new or existing sport surface.


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