Sports parquet: What you need to know before choosing a solid wood or multilayer finish
The choice of the finish for a wooden sports flooring depends on different factors, from purely aesthetic to functional ones.
Both solid wood and multilayer finishes guarantee excellent appearance, but venues must consider other factors, including humidity, which sports will be played there most, and required maintenance.
Many buyers do not know that wood by itself cannot be used as sports flooring, because it could never provide the proper amount of impact absorption. In fact, the wood surface layer only partially affects the biomechanical behavior of the whole system.
The surface can be solid wood or multilayer, which in turn can be made from different types of wood. Beech, maple and oak are the most common woods used in sports flooring.
Ultimately, choosing a wooden sports floor should be based on a complete evaluation of the system’s behavior, but customers often focus exclusively on the choice between solid wood and a multilayer finish, and they often believe that a wood finish is synonymous with the highest quality.
Which factors should facility owners consider when choosing the most suitable sports flooring for an indoor sports facility?
Many sports facility owners aspire to have floors finished in solid wood because of its authenticity, long life and durability. These finishes are made of 100 percent solid wood, and each board is a single piece that expands and contracts independently from the other pieces.
As the name suggests, this type of wood finish is made up of several layers. The upper layer is made of 100 percent natural wood, while below is a core made up of five to seven plywood layers that alternate wood grain directions. This creates an extremely stable core that is less likely to expand, contract or shift when exposed to changes in humidity or temperature.
Aesthetics and price of wood finishes for sports flooring
In general, the aesthetics of solid wood finishes work well for small, intimate facilities, while multilayer finishes are an excellent choice for large facilities with concrete bases or radiant panel heating systems.
Multilayer wood is normally more competitively priced than solid wood. However, when determining costs to install flooring for a high-performance sports facility, it should be noted that the cost of the substrate can have a significant effect on the overall price.
Lifespan of wood finishes for sports flooring
Which wooden system lasts longer in a sports facility? Solid wood is known for its strength and aesthetic appeal. Because of how solid it is, it can be sanded and lacquered several times throughout its useful life and still maintain good performance characteristics. However, if tongue and groove interlocking boards are used, sanding can only reach the tongue and groove joint, which means that 100 percent of the floor can’t be sanded.
The use of solid wood is only advisable for venues that can completely control humidity and temperature, because the total number of joints is much greater with solid wood than with a multilayer finish of the same size floor.
Multilayer wood also can be sanded and lacquered several times during its useful life, although generally fewer times than solid wood, and always taking into consideration the thickness of the highest 100 percent natural wood layer. Its ability to stand up to repeated sanding and lacquering also largely depends on which protective finish it has, which is why special attention must be paid if the floor is subject to heavy use by wheeled equipment or to sports that involve the use of skates.
If a facility could have constant and extreme changes in humidity or temperature — which could reduce a floor’s durability — a multilayer finish is the best choice. Sports flooring with a layered wooden finish provides greater stability in the face of environmental variations. This makes it highly appropriate for use in basements and lower floors with concrete floor foundations, areas with radiant panel heating and in environments in which humidity fluctuates and temperature cannot be control.
Regardless of whether a facility has solid wood or multilayer wood, the system’s lifespan also depends on other factors, including:
- The protective varnish’s resistance to wear and tear.
- The shock-absorbing substrate, which must in turn be elastic and resistant to wheeled equipment (basketball units, trolleys, telescopic stands) and to variations in humidity. Good air circulation in the substrate is highly advisable, even if a polyethylene underlay is used on the concrete floor foundation.
- The correct installation of the expansion joints and the perimeter finishing, which allow the natural expansion and contraction of the wood.
The EN14904 standard describes a series of tests aimed at guaranteeing the suitability of these characteristics, so whichever floor is chosen, considering other aspects of the project are critical, including installation professionalism and system certification in an accredited external laboratory.