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Basketball Court Flooring Facts

The invention of Canadian-American sports coach Dr. James Naismith in late 1891, basketball was first played at the YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Massachusetts. Naismith had been tasked with finding a way to keep kids active indoors during the biting New England winters. After some trial and error, the game was invented, and a colossal sports industry was born. The YMCA’s gym flooring was made from maple wood planks, which is still one of the standard materials used today.

The central reason why maple is used is due to its solidity. In regards to timber usage, the Janka hardness test (also referred to as “the Janka scale”) specifies the hardness of every type of wood. Maple rates at 1450 on the scale, white oak hits 1360, 1320 is for white ash, and 800 is for mahogany. Oftentimes, when maple basketball courts are installed, maple wood will typically sit on top of a subfloor made of a softer wood, such as Douglas fir (the Janka hardness test gives it a 660 score) or Western white pine (420). There are numerous kinds of subflooring used in gyms all over the world, but they all have the same essential goal: to diminish the impact to your ankles, knees and lower back during a game.

Since maple is sturdy and resistant to scuffs and scratches, these inherent advantages make it the perfect sports floor gym surface. Specifically, maple offers great shock resistance, and is both hard-wearing and resilient enough to withstand heavy traffic without suffering damage. Maple is not only robust, but its grain is also extremely tight, meaning that its fine fibers help to keep it from splintering. Therefore, it is more difficult for dust and stray hairs to nestle between the cracks.

You may never have noticed in everyday play but, every time your foot hits the floor, there is an infinitesimal amount of spring-back. This is because the floor supplies players with a little “give,” acting as a shock absorber. This results in less wear to a player’s body, which makes a substantial difference in your fatigue levels as you get older (known in the industry as an orthopedic surface feature).

When a sports court floor has been successfully installed, it is then sanded down nice and smooth before two coats of polyurethane sealant are applied. Glossy urethane will give the surface a sleek, shiny countenance. Once dry, the game lines are painted and graphics are added. The majority of high schools, colleges and universities will have their faculty startup logo applied, while private gymnasiums, professional basketball courts and other sporting locations tend to choose the application of their own corporate startup logo or sponsorship branding. After the game lines and logos are finished, two or three more urethane finishing coats are applied. When the entire process is complete, the lines and graphics have, in effect, become part of the sports floor itself.

Many gym flooring manufacturers and professional sports installation companies recommend that a sports court be recoated at least once every two years. Furthermore, any sports floor surface should be cleaned with a wet mop on a frequent basis, preferably once a day. If possible, it is advisable to dry mop the entire area between each activity to remove random dirt particles.