Whitfield Recreation Finds New Life with Omnisports™
When it comes to athletics, not just any floor will make the cut.
A true sports floor has specific properties that make it suitable for physical activities like jumping, running, pivoting, and dribbling. These properties include things like shock absorption to reduce strain and fatigue. They also include optimized surface friction to minimize stumbling, ball rebound for consistent game-play, and acceptable vertical deformation to prevent instability. All of these features are outlined in the ASTM F2772 sports flooring standard, which defines how a proper sports surface should respond. What happens when you use a non-sports floor like VCT in an area like a gymnasium? Brian Chastain, Director of the Whitfield County Recreation Department, can tell you from experience—and he would not recommend finding this out first hand.
For years, the Whitfield County Recreation Department had a vinyl composite tile (VCT) floor in its gymnasium. VCT is a low cost flooring that is commonly found in areas like classrooms, hallways, and bathrooms, but not in gyms. As with most other commercial floors, it is designed to hold up to heavy traffic, but VCT is not designed for the comfort and safety of athletes; it does not meet the sports performance requirements of ASTM F2772.
As time went on, visitors to the gym began to dwindle. League basketball teams were requesting to play anywhere other than the recreation department facility. Appearance was certainly a factor. Tiles on the court were beginning to show their age and some had even loosened to the point of being displaced. However, the real reason players were reluctant to use the court was the hard, unforgiving surface that was no better than playing on blacktop. Playing on the VCT surface had a tendency to make players tired after a short period of time. Stress related injuries such as shin splints were more common and players preferred to avoid the gym if possible.
In addition to its game play issues, the recreation department’s old court had another drawback—maintenance cost. Although VCT is one of the cheapest flooring surfaces on the market, its upkeep cost is arguably the highest. Every year, the entire area needs to be stripped, waxed, and refinished. According to Director Brian Chastain, this expense averaged around $2,000 per year. When you consider that this effort went toward maintaining a court that no one liked, the cost was very steep indeed.
Clearly, a change was needed. The aging floor called for more than a cosmetic upgrade. It needed to be replaced with a floor that was specifically designed for sports. Brian and his staff at Whitfield County Parks and Recreation began exploring new gym flooring options. What they found would have players requesting time on the court rather than avoiding it. It was a dramatic turnaround for the building and the community that took place in less than one week’s time.
The Solution for Whitfield County
Omnisports 6.5 mm Installed with GreenLay™
Omnisports 6.5 mm GreenLay™ revitalized the Whitfield County Recreation Department gym, this time on a true athletic floor.
The difference was like night and day. When coaches and players began to experience Tarkett’s Omnisports™ 6.5 mm for the first time, the gym that was once avoided by athletes now had a fully booked schedule. With Class 2 shock absorption per ASTM F2772 and all the other performance properties expected from a tested sports floor, players were suddenly more than comfortable playing on the new court. By using the GreenLay™ installation method, which uses significantly less adhesive than other systems, the entire project took less than one week, including the removal of the old VCT.
“In the past, we would have coaches request not to play here. Now we have people requesting to play here. When people first came through the doors to see our new floor...they were overwhelmed by the drastic change that this floor made for the gym. Now that this floor is in, people feel a lot safer to come in here and play. In the past, that was one of the main reasons they were worried about injury, because when you fall on that tile floor, that’s basically like playing on concrete.”
—Brian Chastain, Director of Parks and Recreation
On top of the drastic improvement in sports performance, the new Omnisports™ court also drew visitors because of its appearance. Playing basketball on its traditional wood grain pattern didn’t require the same stretch of the imagination as the old VCT floor did. Omnisports™ had vibrant colors and clear game line markings that made it much more appealing than its predecessor.
In regard to upkeep, Omnisports™ was a complete game-changer for the Whitfield County Recreation Department. Unlike the previous VCT floor, the new floor does not require stripping and waxing. Instead, Omnisports™ TopClean XP™ surface treatment insured that no refinishing would be required for the life of the floor. This also meant that the gym could easily be used for events involving tables and chairs. For example, the gym is now used as a location for distributing equipment to recreation league football players. With the significant maintenance expense of refinishing removed from the budget, the recreation department has been able to focus those resources on other needs, like other facility improvements and programs.
“We’d spend more money out of our pocket. In the past we had a tile floor...I was spending probably 2,000 dollars a year maintaining that floor. Now that we’ve put this floor in we’ve been through a full season and I haven’t spent a dollar on it. So, that’s a big difference.”
—Brian Chastain, Director of Parks and Recreation
Flooring like VCT is initially so cheap that it can be tempting to use it in a gym, but as anyone at the Whitfield County Recreation Department will tell you, a true athletic floor is an investment that pays for itself over time. That payoff is not just cost savings either. It is also about having the performance characteristics that make your gym attractive to players, coaches, and the community as a whole. It is the key to a thriving recreation program, but there are no shortcuts.
Tarkett Sports • 175 N Industrial Boulevard • Calhoun, Georgia 30701 • 888-364-6541 • tarkettsportsindoor.com