Gymnasium Flooring Market Remains Amid Sports Shutdown
By Brock Fritz
With gymnasiums and entire high schools and colleges sitting empty across the United States, facility managers may be wondering whether their scheduled flooring projects and maintenance can continue as planned. Here's a look at how some flooring companies are taking advantage of vacant gyms and using this spring to get ahead.
The gymnasium flooring industry is wary of similar production difficulties as the shutdown continues. However, Heney says that the gym flooring industry has several factors that allow for natural social distancing.
"If you've ever been to a flooring mill, there's lots of space between workers," he says. "From different stages in the milling process, you've got quite a bit of distance between people. The same can be said when you're installing a gym floor. It's pretty easy to follow social-distancing guidelines there. When you're nailing a floor or painting a floor, you're not really right on top of each other. Those are benefits of this industry, in terms of what's going on right now. It's fairly easy to maintain social distancing."
Still, operations need to be altered and MFMA is doing what it can to communicate with companies. The association is passing along information, encouraging social distancing and offering advice on how to keep gym floors healthy when no one is in the schools.
"I wouldn't say it helps the health of the floor," Heney says of the time away from gyms. "It really just depends on what schools are doing. Schools maintain their environments differently from when they're occupied to unoccupied. Most of the time, I've seen that if the school is unoccupied, they set back the HVAC system, and that can be detrimental to the floor."
Randjelovic says schools should follow standard recommendations, whether occupied or not, to control the environment as usual, as turning off mechanicals may result in extreme dry or humid conditions and negatively affect flooring and floor system components.
MFMA recommends maintaining an environment that is 35 to 50 percent relative humidity and between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, those numbers can change depending on the geographic climate in which the gym is located. Heney says the most important part of maintaining a healthy gym floor is staying within a 15 percent fluctuation in indoor relative humidity.
While protecting the wood from adverse effects is important, once society returns to normal, there is going to be increased awareness of surface cleanliness. The MFMA is doing what it can to keep members informed about ways to disinfect gym floors.
"We posted some information about cleaners that you can use to help kill coronavirus,"
"We posted some information about cleaners that you can use to help kill coronavirus," Heney says, noting that he reached out a manufacturer of hygiene products. "I sent him that EPA list and said, 'Hey, which of these products are good for gym floors and which are bad?' And he gave me some insight, so I thought I'd share that with everybody. That's going to be important going forward. When schools reopen, they want to make sure that their floors don't have coronavirus on them. Schools are going to be empty for so long, and viruses can only live on surfaces for so long that it probably won't be a factor, but better safe than sorry."
This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Gymnasium flooring companies produce as schools shut down." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry.
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