Because there are so many different types of sports flooring available, school sports halls, colleges, universities and leisure centres can get a surface for any use case. There really is no limitation for what can be achieved.
There are special surfaces for sports like football and hockey, and general surfaces for indoor courts, halls and functional fitness areas. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the different types of sports flooring.
What Is Sports Flooring For Halls Made Of?
Sports halls have a timber, polyurethane (PU) or vinyl floor. Twenty years ago, all sports halls had a wooden floor, but innovations in material science have given us excellent synthetic alternatives like PU and vinyl.
Which is best? That depends on your performance and budgetary requirements.
Sports flooring can be made from polyurethane, which is not available at home. Polyurethane is also widely used in commercial environments as screed, although it is always installed smoothly in sports settings.
The cushioned element of a polyurethane floor makes it different, with a 2mm surface that is fine-tuned with a softer underlayer.
Another material unique to sports flooring is EPDM rubber crumb flooring (polymetric surfaces) used for outdoor basketball courts. Resin-bound EPDM surfaces can also be found in children’s playgrounds and multi-use games areas.
Vinyl is another material that is different to what you find anywhere else. Vinyl can be installed directly over a sprung floor, and we can modify the elasticity to achieve point and mixed elastic performance characteristics.
Football pitches are made from artificial grass. Roll dimensions can be tailored to individual pitch requirements, with grass depths between 8 and 20mm to ensure the 3G system meets the needs of players and league requirements.
Ultimately, the key difference between sports and regular flooring is engineering to create materials that improve safety and performance. We install a wide range of sports floors and improvements in materials are constantly being made.
What Makes Sports Flooring Different?
Sports flooring is engineered to reduce the risk of injury, absorb impacts and survive decades of use. Whether they are specialised or multi-use, one thing all sports floors have in common is they are designed to be played on.
A lot of thought goes into designing sports floors, and we must consider player safety, performance requirements, use cases, durability, and budget.
3G and 4G pitches are used for football. The artificial grass is normally made from polyethylene (PE) and it has become very convincing in recent years, offering similar play to real grass. It’s available in a thickness range of 8mm to 20mm.
Like football, outdoor hockey pitches use artificial grass. The difference between them is hockey pitches have a shorter and denser surface so the ball skips across it. They can be 2G or 3G and are considered multi-use game areas.
Tennis courts can be made from artificial grass, polyurethane or concrete. The traditional surfaces are clay, concrete and grass. The correct surface depends on where the court is. An indoor court should have a hard playing surface.
Vinyl floors are used indoors to create multi-use game areas. The hard surface provides support underfoot, making it suitable for basketball and netball courts. Schools and leisure centres can use vinyl sports flooring to cover large areas.
Vinyl is the cheapest option for sports hall flooring, offering good all-around performance and durability. Vinyl floors last around ten years, although the top surface is more susceptible to abrasion damage than PU or timber.
You should choose vinyl if you have a small budget and don’t mind replacing your sports hall floor after a decade. Vinyl does a fine job over a shorter period and is suitable for all sports, including basketball and indoor hockey.
Vinyl is also a good option if you want specific elastic performance because the vinyl can be manufactured to attain all point elastic and mixed elastic performance characteristics.
Polyurethane floors are perhaps the most versatile of all indoor sports surfaces, with maximum slip resistance and outstanding wear resistance. These surfaces last a lifetime and provide optimal ball bounce for ball games.
Polyurethane is the most durable material for sports hall floors. PU floors last as long as timber floors but require no upkeep. Additionally, they are cheaper and available in various colours, although they lack a classic appearance.
PU floors are often compared to vinyl floors, but PU is a more expensive product with greater durability. It lasts longer and looks better after years of use, and it is also superior to timber in terms of maintenance.
Our polyurethane floors are EN14904 and DIN 18032-2 certified. They also have factory quality assurance to ISO 9001 and factory environmental care assurance to ISO 14001.
Rubber flooring, whether it is in the form of interlocking tiles or rubber matting, is used to surface free weight and functional fitness areas. Rubber flooring should be used to protect a substrate (e.g. concrete) from heavy shock.
Timber Sports Flooring
Timber is the traditional material for sports hall flooring, offering a classical appearance that’s hard to beat. Various styles, from strips to parquet and hardwood and engineered timber varieties, are available.
You should choose a timber sports floor if you want the classic look of oak, pine or maple, and don’t mind resurfacing the timber after a decade with new lacquer. The lacquer in halls has a lifespan of around ten years with intense use.
We install high-performance timber sports flooring for halls from known brands like Robbins and lesser-known, more affordable brands.
Timber sports flooring is ideal for sports halls, dance halls and multi-use games areas, although it is mainly used for sports halls. It offers a lifespan of over twenty years with minimal maintenance over its lifetime. In addition, you can get high-performance timber sports floors for specific sports like basketball, volleyball, squash and badminton.
The performance of a timber sports floor is determined by the damping layers, with shock pads and anchored designs available. Shock pads are sandwiched between wood layers, and anchored designs eliminate dead spots. The hard surface of timber delivers unbeatable bounce and reduces friction, making it a good option for indoor hockey and 5-a-side football.
How Timber Sports Flooring Is Different
When your foot strikes timber sports flooring, it sinks a little. This is because the timber is installed over struts, delivering cushioning. Timber flooring is installed directly on a solid subfloor at home, so it has no cushioning.
Timber sports flooring is nearly always made from maple because it has a Janka hardness rating of 1,450, higher than oak and walnut.
Additionally, timber sports flooring has at least two coats of polyurethane sealant that is rated for sports use. Glossy sealant is preferred because it enhances the hardwood, although satin sealant reduces glare.
The performance of timber sports flooring depends on the subfloor. A solid subfloor means a hard, unforgiving surface, while a sprung floor improves comfort. Professional basketball courts always have an air gap to isolate impacts and absorb vibration.
Types Of Timber Sports Flooring
There are three main types of timber sports flooring:
- Engineered timber sports flooring has a hardwood top layer and an engineered core, typically MDF or cheaper wood.
- Hardwood timber sports flooring is solid hardwood, favoured by professional sports leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA).
- Sprung timber flooring is built on a platform over the subfloor, isolating vibration for a softer, forgiving feel.
Robbins Timber Sports Flooring
The most famous brand for timber sports flooring is Robbins Sports Surfaces. TVS Group has been appointed sole UK partner by America’s Robbins Sports Surfaces. Robbins Sports Surfaces makes a wide range of performance wooden flooring:
- MVP – reduces vibration and maximises cushioning and performance with vibration damping technology.
- Continuous Strip XL – high-strength timber sports flooring with continuous strip joints
- Sportwood – MFMA Parquet edge-grain northern hard maple suitable for sports halls, gyms, and courts.
- Bio-Channel – an anchored floor that counteracts uneven slabs with a shimmying system (ideal for refurbishment projects)
- Pulastic – dual-layer with a synthetic top surface and a wooden subfloor for a highly durable sports floor.
These flooring systems have different levels of cushioning to suit different sports, from dancing and basketball to netball.
How Different Timber Floors Perform
Timber sports floors aren’t just a hardwood top layer, they consist of several layers, and some flooring systems have sandwiched layers with foam and elastic shock pads. Ultimately, the right timber flooring depends on the use case.
The performance of a timber sports floor depends on whether it is installed over a solid surface or a platform, making it sprung.
The thickness of the timber floor also plays a crucial role in how it feels to use; a thicker floor often has higher energy return, improving comfort. Feel free to reach out to us for advice if you are looking for something specific.
What Sports Surface Do I Need?
If you are resurfacing a sports hall or leisure centre, you really can’t go wrong with a polyurethane floor. There is no necessity to remove existing flooring in many cases and the surface will easily last for over a decade.
For specific sports, it’s important to provide the standardised surface. For football, this is a 3G pitch. For basketball, it’s a hard court. If you are unsure which sports flooring is right for you, feel free to get in touch for free advice.
How Is Sports Flooring Installation Carried Out?
Sports floors come in all shapes and sizes, but sports flooring installation is a structured process. Here’s how the process works:
Removal Of Old Floor
The old floor is removed if applicable. This could be an old hardwood floor, carpet, vinyl or tile. It depends on the previous use case. It may even be an old rubber gym floor. Whatever it is, it’s removed and sent away for recycling.
Subfloors are made from one of three things:
- Plywood (boarding)
In the case of floorboards, these need boarding over them to protect them. Otherwise, the sports flooring will compress into the floorboards.
In the case of concrete, it is not always necessary to install boards. However, the concrete needs to be crack free and in a good condition.
The best sports flooring installations utilise underlay. This is not the same underlay you use with carpet but a high-performance rubber or foam underlay.
Underlay is necessary to protect the subfloor from impact. The top surface will compress into the underlay rather than the subfloor. Underlay can be built up in two or three layers to suit the intended use case, such as deadlifting zones.
Top Surface Installation
Once the undelay is in place, we can install the top surface. This will be either rubber matting or rubber tiles. The top surface will be non-slip when wet and easy to clean. We use the SPORTEC brand because in our experience it’s the best.
Before the top surface is installed, an adhesive will be sprayed onto the underlay. The top surface will stick to the underlay. The adhesive will keep the floor in place, but it will come up if necessary without damaging the underlay using tools.
Now that the top surface is installed, the floor is ready to use. But before we leave, we’ll clean the floor to remove footprints and dust from the installation process. Your floor will now be ready to be used for workouts.
Recycling Of Materials
The last step is for us to recycle all materials and waste responsibly. We do this at local recycling centres which we pay to use (councils charge commercial operators). This is built into the project quote, so don’t worry about it.
Hopefully, this has answered your questions about how sports flooring installation works. If not, feel free to get in touch and we’ll explain it in more detail.