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When To Refinish, Resurface, Or Replace Wood Gymnasium Flooring

When to Refinish, Resurface, or Replace Wood Gymnasium Flooring

Schools, universities, and workout facilities feature gymnasium floors. As the floors support various activities, from sports tournaments to events, they undergo wear and tear. Since wood gym floors are heavily utilized, facility managers should have a timeframe for when to refinish, resurface, or replace them.

Many different sports are played on wood gym floors: volleyball, floor hockey, basketball, and gymnastics. Athletic teams practice on the floors and tournaments are held on them. When teams compete, increased foot traffic is introduced—accelerating the rate of wear and tear on the floors.

Similarly, gym floors undergo significant wear when social events and classes are held. Setting up the bleachers impacts the gym floor and abuses from students or visitors can cause chips, stains, and other forms of damage. A wood gym floor ages, too, and becomes worn over time.

The abovementioned scenarios affect the lifespan of the gym floor. Proper maintenance impacts the floor’s longevity. In fact, a well-maintained wood gym floor can endure for 50 to 60 years. When a facility manager comes across a floor that is close to the end of its lifecycle, decisions must be made.

Replacing, refinishing, or resurfacing a wood gym floor is dependent on the facility’s budget and the extent of the floor’s wear and tear. Safety is paramount for athletes and visitors who use the gym floor, so addressing the condition of the floor is a necessity, not a luxury.

  1. Refinishing the wood gym floor

Northwestern University wood gym floorRefinishing the wood gym floor reinvigorates it, breathing new life onto a surface that has become dull over time. The process simply involves adding a new topcoat. The uppermost layer of the floor is sanded, and fresh coats of stain and lacquer are applied.

Facility managers are advised to refinish the wood gym floor when the current finish begins to wear thin. Likewise, when signs of damage, from chips to scratches, appear on the floor, it’s time to refinish it. Being a quick project, refinishing the floor is least disruptive to gym schedules and is affordable.

Refinishing the gym floor can be done every 5 to 10 years, with the amount of foot traffic and maintenance program being taken into consideration. If the floor requires refinishing sooner than the recommended timeframe, the floor maintenance schedule should be evaluated.

  1. Resurfacing the wood gym floor

Rockridge High School gym flooringResurfacing also adds a new topcoat to the existing floor—but additionally involves replacing worn floorboards. Only the damaged boards are replaced, which saves the facility manager on costs, especially in comparison to replacing the entire gym floor. This is a more expensive route than refinishing.

Signs that a wood gym floor would benefit from resurfacing include numerous scratches and boards that appear gray or black. Also, when the current finish wears exceedingly thin, it’s time to resurface the gym floor. In terms of overall improvement, resurfacing falls short of a complete replacement.

The general recommended timeframe for resurfacing a wood gym floor is between 10 and 15 years. Wood boards do not become damaged easily, so performing this step is done at greater intervals. Keep in mind that resurfacing is done less often than refinishing.

  1. Replacing the wood gym floor

School gym flooringA gym floor replacement is a major investment in time and money. Plus, the gym will need to remain closed for the duration of the project. Replacing the wood gym floor is only necessary when the floorboards are severely warped or otherwise damaged or have been refinished and resurfaced numerous times.

Water damage is a good reason to replace the gym floor, as are boards that have turned black and visible signs of warping or uneven areas appear. Sports flooring contractors who replace the floor entirely will remove both the damaged, warped floor boards and the subfloor beneath it.

Since the estimated lifespan of a wood gym floor is 50 to 60 years, a complete replacement can occur after this period. This step is usually a last resort and is recommended when the floorboards are so worn that refinishing or resurfacing would have little benefit.

Wood Gym Flooring FAQ

Loyola University Chicago - Gym Flooring - Basketball court flooring

What is wood gym floor sanding?

Gym floor sanding is the removal of the top layer of a wood gym floor using specialized sanding equipment. This is done by professional sports flooring companies and removes the finish, paint, and seal.

What is wood gym floor screening?

Gym floor screening is the removal of the finish so that a new finish can be applied. A new coat of finish can refresh the appearance of a wood gym floor and screening is a less expensive and less invasive process than sanding. However, screening and refinishing the floor may not be enough to fix deep scratches or stains.

What is gym floor sealing?

The sealing of a wood gym floor is the application of a clear, protective sealant to a floor that has been sanded. The porous wood floor absorbs the sealant which helps protect against moisture and other types of damage to the wood.

What is the wood gym floor finish?

The finish of a wood gym floor, also referred to as the coating, is the top layer that helps protect the floor from wear and tear and gives it a shiny appearance. The most common wood floor finishes used are oil based, polyurethane finishes.

What are the main causes of damage to wood gym floors?

The following can cause damage to wood gym floors:

  • Foot traffic: All gym floors experience a certain level of foot traffic that contributes to wear and tear, but gym floors used for non-athletic events in addition to regular athletics will experience more foot traffic.
  • Improper cleaning: It is important to clean and maintain wood gym flooring according to the manufacturer’s instructions because improper cleaning methods, such as using power scrubbers and water, can cause significant damage.
  • Heavy loads: Wood gym floors are designed to support athletic activities, not heavy equipment like stages and bleachers.
  • Moisture: Moisture from spills and humid conditions can crack and damage wood gym flooring. Insulating and weatherproofing wood gym floors helps prevent damage from moisture.

Wood Gym Floor Services from Kiefer USA

Refinishing, resurfacing, or replacing a wood gym floor are investments in the people who use them, from athletes to students and visitors. It’s important ensure the gym floor is free of hazards and is safe to use. These projects not only serve cosmetic purposes but enhance safety.

Consult professional contractors, even when performing a simple refinishing project. While cost savings may be attractive at first with a DIY project, flooring experts utilize the latest technologies and ensure finishes are safe, compliant with industry standards, environmentally friendly, and durable.

When rebranding the school or organization with new colors, refinishing the floor is advantageous. Resurfacing is a cost-effective option for dealing with damaged floor boards. When opting to replace the entire floor to address major flaws, consult an experienced sports flooring contractor, like Kiefer USA.

We are among the nation’s leading sports flooring experts, providing solutions for every level of athleticism, including elementary schools, high schools, universities, the NBA, and the NCAA. You are in experienced hands when you work with our knowledgeable hardwood flooring specialists.

wood flooring in a gym installed by Kiefer USA

Workers from Kiefer USA place wood flooring in a gym at the Activities and Recreation Center

Our experts guide you through the entire process, from concept to design and installation. The resulting wood gym floor is guaranteed to meet or exceed your expectations. Our satisfied customers, from Purdue University to the University of Notre Dame, are a testament to our commitment to excellence.

If a rubber gym floor is your preference, Kiefer USA is also your number one flooring resource. Our skilled team will meet your demands for a sports floor that supports any type of athletic activity. We offer rubber flooring options from Mondo to ensure you receive premium quality products.

When your existing wood gym floor needs extra TLC or must be replaced, you will find top-notch solutions at Kiefer USA. Sports facilities across the country trust our flooring products. Speak with one of our representatives at our Gurnee, Illinois, headquarters and learn how we can enhance your facility.


Amber Stromberg

Kiefer USA is a leading athletic surface design and sports flooring installation company. Amber Stromberg is a Director of Marketing. 10 Years with Kiefer.
Favorite Hobby: working out and spending time with her kids and family.

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