preparing for hardwood gym floor installation

Preparing for Hardwood Gym Floor installation in 3 Easy Steps

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So, you’ve made plans to brighten up your sports facility by installing a new hardwood floor. Maybe you want to add a basketball or volleyball court to your existing sports complex.  You’ve picked a contractor, agreed on all of the essential details, and have chosen the perfect maple hardwood design for your new floor.  But you’re still unsure how the project will unfold from concrete to court.

This is relatively common as a lot of gym owners are not familiar with the process of preparing for a hardwood gym floor installation.  If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place!  In this article, we’ll go over the three most important steps you should know before and during the installation of your new hardwood gym floor.

Testing the Concrete Slab before hardwood gym floor installation

Regardless if you’re replacing your existing hardwood floor or installing one in a brand new building, your concrete slab must meet certain criteria.  Meeting the requirements will ensure a successful hardwood floor installation.  Before installing the floor, the contractors should run tests to make sure that the concrete slab is dry, smooth, and flat.

All three requirements are equally important and your contractor shouldn’t miss out on testing any of them.  This is why you shouldn’t stay in the dark during the process, and why we will look a bit deeper into each of the three categories.


As we talked about in one of our previous posts, moisture is the worst enemy of hardwood floors.  Gym floors are susceptible to water, as it can lead to many issues, such as cupping and buckling.  To avoid potential water damage, the concrete must be dry before installing a new hardwood floor.  The slab should be poured at least 60 days before the dryness tests, and it’s relevant to know just how much concrete has been placed to calculate the most accurate test results.

The process is something you shouldn’t rush as it can have a significant impact on floor performance later.  Furthermore, you should consider using a third party to perform a test.  This can act as an insurance policy on whether the concrete slab meets the expectations and standards to receive a new hardwood installation. 

Once the 60 days have passed after pouring the slab, you can perform the dryness test.  The dryness test consists of two different components — a relative humidity test and a calcium chloride test.  The relative humidity test measures the humidity levels in the concrete.  In contrast, the calcium chloride test measures the amount of moisture that passes through the concrete slab.


If you’re looking for maximum floor performance, flatness is something you definitely shouldn’t overlook. The MFMA rules for concrete slab flatness clearly define the appropriate requirements.  If the hardwood is installed over a concrete floor that isn’t flat, there could be ball bounce and vibration problems, and even dead spots.  Moreover, an uneven floor will not only have performance issues but will also look odd.  As the contour of the hardwood floor follows that of the slab, if the concrete isn’t flat, the hardwood will seem like it’s improperly installed.


Last but not least, the concrete should be soft enough — but not too soft.  The concrete strength should range between 3,000 P.S.I. and 3,500 P.S.I, with all high spots being ground level. Overly-soft concrete is more expensive to polish and grind and has a lower compressive strength.  Many factors can lead to overly-soft concrete, with excess water being the biggest culprit.

Ensuring Optimum Surrounding Conditions

While the concrete slab is the most crucial aspect of preparing a facility for a new hardwood floor, the environment around it also plays a vital role.  The recommended relative indoor humidity should be between 30% and 50%, and the temperature should be between 55 and 75 degrees.  These are the optimal environmental conditions for the best hardwood performance.

With that said, it might not always be possible to maintain the recommended conditions, especially if you live in a part of the country that experiences extreme summer or winter seasons.  These recommended numbers can fluctuate for about 15% up or down, and still not have a harmful effect on the floor.

However, if there’s a fluctuation in indoor humidity higher than 15%, the floor might start to shrink or expand excessively.  It is important to note that you should also have proper air circulation during the installation process, not only after the floor is installed.  If your HVAC system is not yet set up, there are a few other things you can implement; fans, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers can be of great use.

You’ll also need to remember the floor installation should be completed after all other work in the gym is finished.  This includes all mechanical, lightning, and paint jobs.  Completing these assignments before installing a new hardwood gym floor will help you avoid any potential damage to the new floor.  It will also allow you to see how the color and lighting impact the final appearance of the hardwood floor.

Finding a Reliable Contractor for hardwood gym floor installation

Preparing for a new hardwood gym floor doesn’t have to be a mind-boggling experience, but you must know all of the steps that go into it.  Of course, it’s also vital to pick a reliable and trustworthy contractor for your project.  An experienced flooring contractor will know how to guide you through this journey and explain everything as they carry out the project. 

Ultimately, you’ll be the one using the gym for decades to come.  So you want to make sure that you get what you pay for.  If you have any more questions about the process or want to schedule a consultation for your project, we’re here for you. Simply fill out our easy online form. Or call us at (973) 801-7219, and our customer support representatives will reach out to you as soon as possible.