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SPORTS FLOORS differ immensely from floors designs for any other purpose.College Basketball Because the needs of athletes come first, performance, safety and comfort inherent characteristics. Floor design can focus on a specific activity such as: Aerobics versus basketball, or handball, squash and racquet ball courts; health and fitness clubs; gymnasiums used for multi-purposes; international Olympic facilities; professional sports arenas; dance floors; auditorium and convention centers; schools, colleges, and universities; YMCA/YWCA's; theater & stage performance areas; and many commercial, industrial, and residential applications.
Time and time again, athletes, performers, trainers, coaches, owners, and architects who design these facilities cite maple as the preferred sports surface. Of all the US sports floors ( 17 million square feet-installed each year) maple is the sports floor of choice.

  Basketball court

Athletic performance is enhanced by its hard-but-resilient character. Subfloor systems enhance maple's natural shock absorption and area elasticity. In addition to the surface providing dependable uniform grip and traction to athletic footwear. safety is vastly enhanced by these same characteristics as seen by a study showing athletes were 70% more likely to sustain a floor-related injury on a synthetic floor than on a maple floor. (See Incidence of Sports Injuries- further down this page)

Maple (Northern Hard) was used in sports floors more than 150 years ago. From the beginning the mission was to create "natures perfect flooring". A handful of producers formed the Maple Manufacturers Association (MFMA) in 1897. The purpose was to research and develop the best procedures for the selection and grading of this wood product. Over time a set of strict manufacturing standards evolved. This association would soon become the authoritative source of technical and general information on sports floors. They also included in there self-imposed standard, the correct installation and maintenance procedures to help this product live up to it's promise and standards previously set forth. Thus the sports floor story now has become a part of our lives, our day to day association with sports activities, and thus a part of our sports history.

Grading Rules & Quality Standards: FREE Wood Flooring Quotes

As the trade association setting the standard (MFMA) has set painstakingly set forth and followed grading rules and quality standards in the production of each strip of flooring. It assures the wood has been kiln dried to 6% - 9% moisture content which makes it dimensionally stable before manufacturing begins. This ensures the finished product will be milled to consistent exact tolerances as mandated by this organization (MFMA).

Grading Guide:
1st GRADE MAPLEFirst Grade:
The highest grade - an extremely durable and desirable floor for many installation applications; including but not limited to gymnasiums, basketball, handball, and racquet ball courts among other common uses such as public areas, dance floors, home and many other applications where fine appearance and long wear are desired. The face is practically defect free. Strip lengths 9" to 8 ft.; not more than 55% of total footage will be in bundles under 4 ft.; not more than 25% will be in 2 ft. bundles.

Second & Better Grade:
this grade provides the same long life and maintenance performance as First grade. It is ideal for sports floors, common areas, commercial buildings and residences. This grade admits tight knots and slight imperfections. Bundling tolerances are slightly less as to what is allowed as to lengths.

3rd GRADE MAPLEThird Grade:
excellent performances for all types of installation and kindred uses where good wearing qualities are required together with medium cost and appearance. Again more tolerance as to bundling and nesting is given.


Standard Measurements
(Tongue and Groove Flooring)

25/32" 1.984 cm (19.84mm)
33/32" 2.619 cm (26.19mm)
Face Widths:
1-1/2" 3.81 cm (38.1mm)
2-1/4" 5.715cm (57.15mm)
3-1/4" 8.255cm (82.55mm)

NOTE: The 25/32" thickness is the most commonly used for general purposes with strip lengths being random from 9" top 8 feet.


(DIN Standards- Developed by the University of Stuttgart in Stuttgart, Germany- Using the "Artificial Athlete Berlin" apparatus which simulated the response of a typical participant's interaction with a sports surface with the objective to develop test methods and standards.)
Performance characteristics for floors. . . shock absorption, ball bounce, vertical and area deflection, surface friction and rolling load have been engineered into flooring systems for years. Today more emphasis is placed on specific performance characteristics, which can be measured by generally accepted methods and numbers.
Shock Absorption:
As an athlete impacts a sports surface the impacting force is translated into two resultant forces, one absorbed by the floor, the other returned to the athlete. While hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt provide little or no force reduction for the athlete upon impact, due to running, jumping or falling. Sports floor systems (MFMA systems) absorb these impact forces (shock) and are rated by the percentage of force reduction they provide as compared to hard surfaces. Shock absorption should be considered for any sports floor installation.

VERTICAL & AREA DEFLECTIONVertical and Area Deflection:
The measurements of both area and vertical deflection are interdependent. The two together form a criterion for determining the total stability of the floor in the total scheme of performance characteristics. This is called deformation control. This characteristic is a measure of the systems ability to provide vertical deflection for athletes performing in close proximity to each other. Vertical deflection deals with vertical displacement of the flooring surface during impact.

Ball Bounce:
This measurement of a basketball's response reflecting (rebounding) off a (MFMA) maple floor system as compared to its response of a hard surface such as concrete is referred to ball bounce. At 100% rebound, the basketball reflects to a height equal to its response off concrete. This may not apply to all sports activities.

Often called Sliding coefficient or the coefficient of friction, this characteristic is used to measure the floor's ability to control sliding of athletes on its surface. In other words the sports floor system must have a high surface friction , enough that prevents premature and uncontrollable sliding of athletes, but also low enough to permit sliding if an extreme force is exerted on the athlete such as that caused by two athletes colliding. Surface friction is a direct function of the finish on the surface and carries equal importance in all activities.

ROLL LOADRolling Load:
Due to the potential damage to a wood floor system caused by some maintenance machines and game equipment to rolling load characteristic is very important to all sports floors. The pressure of rolling loads caused by rolling equipment and furniture (bleachers, backstops, high lifts etc.) should always be considered. Additional provisions to protect the floor should be considered.

Common Sports Floors:College Basketball
Basketball (NBA-NCAA-International Olympic-High School) Volleyball
Racquet Ball

Incidence of Sports Injuries:
This has become an important issue in sports floors. It is evident that from research conducted to date by leading authorities concerning injuries on sports floors, that more injuries occur on synthetic floor surfaces than does on maple wood floors. The following information concerning injuries is from a study comparing maple wood floors to synthetic floors. This study covered injuries reported for 1 year, type of sport, and the type of injury. Injuries that were attributed to contact with the floor are used (floor-related).


Type of injuries recorded:
S=synthetic floor~M=maple floor
Ankle- 20-M vs 30-S
Knee- 7-M vs 15-S
Skin/Misc 11-M vs 17-S


It is important to note, these injuries occurred in the following activities: basketball 45%, volleyball 28%, practice & other sports 20%, PE class 7 %, with the majority of injuries occurring during the winter months(75%) with male injuries being about 55% of the total number.


Potions of information contained herein was reprint by permission MFMA

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