One of the most famous sports floors in the country––the Boston Garden floor where the Celtics once played––was made of parquet oak. But this historic basketball court was the exception to the rule.
Maple is almost always used in gym and sports floors. In fact, maple is so tied up with the sports flooring industry that the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) defines the standards for sports floor installation and maintenance.
So why, exactly, is maple always used in gym and sports floors as opposed to, say, a species like walnut?
In short, it’s because of maple’s Janka hardness rating, high shock resistance, appearance, and availability.
Janka hardness rating
Maple is dense, and its Janka hardness rating makes it the ideal wood for sports flooring. A wood’s hardness rating is especially important to consider when installing it in areas where it will be exposed to higher-than-average wear and tear, like in a sports arena or gym.
Maple’s Janka hardness rating is 1450, which is very high compared to the ratings for other domestic species that are commonly installed as hardwood floors like pine, walnut, and oak.
If a softwood like pine, or even a relatively soft hardwood such as red oak, were installed as a gym floor, it would likely accumulate damage from heavy athletic use more quickly than maple.
High shock resistance
Its high shock resistance is another reason why maple is the wood of choice for sports floors. It allows the floor to respond to foot traffic by bouncing back, thus helping to reduce damage and fatigue in the athletes’ joints. Its shock resistance also contributes to the bounce of the ball, which is an important concern when installing multipurpose sports floors.
Maple’s high shock resistance also makes it better able to sustain heavy wear and tear. Bowling alley floors and even the pins are constructed from maple wood.
It’s also more stable than other species, including hickory, which is harder than maple. More stability means that the wood is less responsive to changes in the environment, so it’s less likely to crack from expanding or contracting too much.
Appearance and availability
Maple’s bright, light-colored wood is attractive. Its grain texture is smooth, which makes it the ideal surface for painting lines and logos on the floor.
In addition, maple trees are extremely common in the United States, making its wood widely available domestically.
Finish and subfloor are also important!
Of course, the wood isn’t the whole story. The subflooring underneath and the finish on top can add to or detract from the overall quality of a floor.
A correctly installed, sports-specific subfloor further contributes to the strength and integrity of the wood, and a sports floor finish makes the wood glossy and protects it from damage. Properly maintaining your sports floor will work to preserve its integrity and attractiveness.
The Philadelphia Floor Store is your one-stop sports floor resource.
For more information on your options for sports flooring, get in touch with a hardwood flooring expert at (484) 866-8849 or firstname.lastname@example.org.