The Different Types Of Indoor Sports Hall Flooring

indoor sports hall flooring

Solutions For School Sports Hall Flooring

School sports hall floors have more than basketball and indoor hockey to contend with – they also need to withstand dragged chairs, tables and benches. Any ordinary floor would be ripped to shreds, but not sports hall floors.

The reason is simple – durability. Sports hall floors are made from tough materials like maple, polyurethane and vinyl, and these surfaces offer decades of use with minimal maintenance.

Sports halls need a hard surface for court games and assemblies. The traditional choice is hardwood flooring with a glossy lacquer that can be buffed. If you want a classic look, this is hard to beat and hardwood lasts 20 to 30 years.

Modern alternatives to hardwood include polyurethane and vinyl. These types of indoor sports hall flooring are cheaper but more durable. They need no polishing, just a good clean when your school janitor makes the rounds.

Which is right for you? Here are the pros and cons of each:


Hardwood or timber is the traditional choice for sports hall flooring, offering epic durability for all types of indoor sports and school activities. Maple is the toughest wood available, although oak generally costs less, so it is more popular.

You can go as premium as you like with timber; generic sports flooring offers good performance, while Robbins timber flooring (suppliers to the NBA) offers peak performance and longevity, lasting several decades.

Timber is preferred for basketball, netball and badminton, although the hard surface can be unforgiving for gymnastics and indoor football.

Sports halls that choose a hardwood floor have a classic appearance. Hardwood lasts for decades if looked after. The lacquer may need replacing every 10 years, but this is the only real maintenance needed other than cleaning.

  • Suitable for hardcourt games
  • Suitable for assemblies
  • Can be marked up
  • Classic appearance
  • Lasts 20 to 30 years
  • Minimal maintenance required


Polyurethane (PU) is the best synthetic surface for sports hall floors, offering greater durability than wood with similar playing characteristics.

However, polyurethane has more cushioning than timber flooring, making it a better solution for reducing the risk of injury. Additionally, polyurethane doesn’t have a varnish that comes off, reducing maintenance requirements.

Today, most school sports halls install polyurethane floors unless they desire the classical appearance of a timber sports floor.

Polyurethane is the modern alternative to hardwood. This indoor sports hall flooring is arguably more durable than hardwood. It lacks a classical appearance, but some prefer the seamless appearance of a good polyurethane floor.

  • Suitable for hardcourt games
  • Suitable for assemblies
  • Can be marked up
  • Seamless appearance
  • Lasts as long as hardwood
  • Easy to clean with no maintenance


Vinyl is an alternative to polyurethane where a specialised elasticity is needed for certain sports. Vinyl floors can be made softer or firmer. Vinyl is as durable as PU and it is a similar price, so which is best for you depends on if you need a specific elasticity.

Vinyl is less durable than polyurethane but is more suited to specific sports with adjustable point elastic performance. It is cheaper than polyurethane and needs replacing sooner but is still a good option in designated sports zones.

Vinyl flooring lasts around ten years with intense use and is durable enough for extra curriculum school activities, assemblies, parents evenings, et cetera. It’s budget-friendly and available in multiple colours, just like PU.

Overall, vinyl is not as good as polyurethane, but it is cheaper and plays similarly with basketball, gymnastics and indoor hockey.

  • Customisable elasticities
  • As durable as PU
  • Can be marked up
  • Seamless appearance
  • Easy to clean with no maintenance
  • Suitable for the widest range of sports

Which Flooring Lasts The Longest?

The main concern schools have about their sports hall flooring is how durable it will be. Sports halls have to withstand sports, assemblies, tests, dragged furniture and much more, so it’s important the floor is extremely durable.

Hardwood lasts 10 years before it needs new lacquer and polyurethane and vinyl floors need no maintenance. All these flooring systems last 20 to 30 years providing they are cared for and not abused. Misuse, of course, will decrease the lifespan.

Consider The Main Sports Played

Basketball, netball and badminton are always best on timber surfaces, but the hardness of timber increases injury risks with gymnastics.

A good middle ground is a polyurethane floor, which increases safety while offering similar performance and greater durability. Polyurethane is more flexible than timber and can be installed directly over a solid subfloor.

Vinyl is more suited to specialised applications with adjustable elastic performance, but it is less durable than timber or PU.

Sports Hall Flooring Refurbishment

Sports hall flooring refurbishment can save an old floor before it goes past the point of no return. Timber can be sanded and refinished, although wood is susceptible to moisture and can warp. When this happens, it needs replacing.

Polyurethane and vinyl are more durable than timber, but the top surface can still wear off over time. Refurbishment involves removing the top surface and resealing the flooring, and this will extend the floor’s lifespan for several years.

We specialise in sports hall flooring refurbishment at TVS and can survey your floor to establish the best solutions. Here’s some general advice about refurbishment:

Refurbishing Timber Floors

Timber sports hall floors can be refurbished by sanding off the varnish/polyurethane coating. The wood can then be stained and re-coated. However, this can only be done if the timber is solid and free from rot and mould.

Sometimes, timber sports floors rot from underneath if not properly sealed from the subfloor. Damp and leaks can cause rot over time. You may notice black mould between the wood strips, warping and discolouration.

If sections of a timber floor are spent, it is best to replace the whole floor because ripping out individual strips is destructive.

Refurbishing Polyurethane And Vinyl Floors

Polyurethane and vinyl flooring can also be sanded and re-coated with a polyurethane sealant. This is required when the top coating starts flaking and peeling away. However, this is not always possible, and sometimes the floor needs replacing.

Sometimes, all these surfaces need is a good clean. Ammonia and warm water will lift up years of dirt and grime to reveal the true condition of the floor.

Some manufacturers recommend refinishing vinyl flooring every twelve months, and this involves replacing the old sealant. School sports halls put up with a lot of punishment, and vinyl flooring is likely to require refinishing at some point.

When To Get a Whole New Floor

Sports hall floors need replacing when the surface warps and comes away from the subfloor. Additionally, extremely worn floors have dead spots and damping problems, which causes issues with performance and safety.

If your sports hall floor is over a decade old, it’s good practice to get an expert to test the flooring for damping and dead spots.

The good news is there are flooring solutions for all budgets, from generic timber sports flooring to polyurethane and cheaper vinyl systems. Feel free to reach out to us for advice if you are unsure about what flooring you need.

For any further information or to discuss a project please contact us on +44 1706 260 220 or email