Sports flooring differs immensely from floors designed for any other purpose. Because the needs of athletes come first, performance, safety and comfort are inherent characteristics. Floor design can focus on a specific activity, say aerobics versus basketball, or on multiple purposes to suit the exact need of a facility or application: gymnasiums; handball, squash and racquetball courts; basketball courts; health and fitness clubs; international Olympic facilities; professional sports arenas; aerobic/dance exercise facilities; dance floors; auditoriums and convention centers; church and religious facilities; primary and secondary schools; colleges and universities; corporate exercise facilities; YWCA/YMCAs; family life centers; roller skating rinks; theater and performance stages; or commercial, industrial and residential applications.
Time and time again, athletes, performers, coaches, trainers, owners and architects who design floors cite maple as their preferred sports surface. In fact, maple shows up on 70 percent** of the sports floors installed in the U.S. And the most preferred variety, northern hard maple from MFMA manufacturers, accounts for 58 percent** of all U.S. sports floors--more than 17 million square feet--installed each year.
Northern hard maple has been called nature's perfect flooring surface. MFMA maple is produced from trees grown north of the 38th parallel where shorter growing seasons produce maple with closer, more uniform grain. In a floor, northern hard maple exhibits flexibility, resilience, durability, finishability and low-demand maintenance.
"We are very pleased with the athletic performance on our MFMA floors in our varsity basketball arena, intramural gym and dance studio...we have found MFMA maple to be very aesthetically pleasing."
—Barbara Bickford, Associate Director of Athletics Brandeis University"
Athletic performance is enhanced by its hard-but-resilient character. Subfloor systems enhance maple's natural shock absorption and area elasticity. And the surface provides dependably uniform grip and traction to athletic footwear. Safety is vastly enhanced by these same characteristics as documented in a study*** that showed that athletes were 70 percent more likely to sustain a floor-related injury on a synthetic floor than on a maple floor.
Northern hard maple .............79c / sq. ft. / year
Poured urethane ..................$1.10 / sq. ft. / year
PVC ...................................$1.15 / sq. ft. / year
Northern hard maple was first used in sports flooring nearly 150 years ago. From the beginning, it was evident, however, that even "nature's perfect flooring" needed a little help if consistently outstanding floors were to be built.
Complete Grading Rules for Random Strip, Finger Jointed and Parquet flooring are published by MFMA for reference by architects and specifiers. Grading permits selection of MFMA maple flooring according to use and budget.
So? What's Your Opinion on Maple vs. Synthetic's??