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Maple or Synthetic: Choosing the right flooring material

November 8, 2018 / Basketball
{Sponsored} Many factors need to be considered when investing in a new sports surface. Resilience and durability, color contrast for lines, impact on players’ joints and the purpose the space serves all factor into the decision. When it comes to indoor basketball, volleyball and dance, among others, a northern hard maple sports floor checks all those boxes.

Synthetic floors certainly have a place in the industry; for cafetoriums or trade shows, indoor tracks or weight rooms, maple is not ideal, and synthetic out-performs a hardwood floor.

However, when those events and sports aren’t part of the normal use for the space, northern maple is your best choice. Compared to southern maples, northern hard maple has a tighter grain due to a shorter growing season. As a result of the colder winter in the north, northern hard maple is denser and significantly harder and more dent-resistant than southern maples, which are commonly used in cabinetry.

The next question that needs to be asked is: are all northern maples equal? The Maple Flooring Manufacturing Association (MFMA) works with the top mills in the country and completes unannounced quality inspections at its member mills four times a year. They inspect for grading and tolerances. If the mill passes, the maple is marked on the underside with the MFMA stamp.

Also, consider construction method. For some sports, such as aerobics and dance, the resilient pad will be different than for basketball or volleyball. The durometer is softer for aerobics and dance and stiffer for basketball and volleyball. Both have an engineered subfloor to give the best sport floor system for each type of sport.

Once your northern hard maple flooring is installed, maintenance is relatively minimal. “When properly maintained, the cost of this floor will be very close to the cost of a synthetic,” said Daniel Heney, MFMA executive director. MFMA recommends the floor is recoated annually; this means the surface is roughed up and a new coating of surface finish is applied. Every 7 to 10 years, the floor needs to be sanded down to bare wood. Optimally, 10 years is the target. “The longer the life is extended through annual maintenance, the longer you can go between resurfacing,” Heney said. “We stand behind our MFMA mills proactively to make sure you’re getting the best possible flooring.”Maple Flooring Mfg Association maplefloor.org

The other members of MFMA are sport floor contractors and allied members (who manufacturer and sell products associated with the installation or care of sports floors) who understand how to properly install and care for your flooring. They handle the installation and provide products to ensure the floor is up to the rigorous standards of MFMA. “You can’t find anyone who has more experience in the industry than our members. The MFMA has been around since 1897 and has always ensured its members know the ins and outs. They are a great resource and experts in sports flooring,” Heney said.

“In over 20 years of specifying northern hard maple gym floors in schools, I have never had to reject a single piece of MFMA flooring for any reason,” said Joe Elliott of Little & Associates Architects in Charlotte, North Carolina. MFMA is the expert in the industry.

Why use a MFMA sport floor contractor? MFMA sport floor contractors are the standard in the industry. They can receive accredited installer training and can attend educational conferences. Nonmembers may receive the training at a higher cost than members do, but the conferences are for members only. MFMA sport floor contractor companies will also install the correct subfloor to suit each space’s needs.

The best part of having a northern hard maple floor? Athletic performance is enhanced on a northern hard maple floor because of its resiliency. It is easier on joints than other hardwoods and has consistent light color and the floor finishes provide uniform traction. It is nature’s perfect sports flooring.

MFMA member mills and sport floor contractors can be found at maplefloor.org.

© 2018 MFMA


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