uneven hardwood gym floor

Should You Repair or Replace an Uneven Hardwood Gym Floor? Your Top FAQs Answered

Overview

An uneven hardwood gym floor can impact the safety and performance of athletes. Over time, wear and tear can negatively impact the condition of the sports floor, making it uneven. So, what should you do when you notice that a hardwood maple sports floor is uneven? Should you repair or replace it?

Hardwood gym floors are designed to withstand heavy use and foot traffic but are not invincible. Over time, various factors can affect the floor’s performance. For example, moisture, age, and wear and tear can cause floorboards to warp or buckle. Or high-traffic areas may wear down faster than other areas. 

Gym floor refinishing is the process of restoring and renewing the sports floor. It involves sanding, repairing, and finishing the hardwood floor. This makes the gym floor look new, improving its appearance, durability, and performance.

You may wonder about your best options if you have an uneven hardwood gym floor. Should you invest in a costly replacement? Or is repairing and refinishing a gym floor the best option?

This article answers some of the most common questions sports facility owners ask about uneven hardwood gym floors. 

Can the floor be repaired or does it need to be replaced?

Signs of an uneven gym floor are gaps, protruding floorboards, and damage to the hardwood flooring that could cause someone to slip. Additionally, addressing dangerously uneven sections is vital to prevent unnecessary injuries. But how can you assess the extent of the damage? 

A professional gym floor refinishing contractor first assesses the extent of the damage. For example, sanding and refinishing are typically sufficient to repair minor scratches or uneven spots. However, extensive damage like floorboards lifting, separating, or water damage may require replacing the entire floor. 

The steps involved in repairing a damaged gym floor include the following:

  • Sanding the top layer of wood or finish to create a smooth and even surface and remove deep scratches.
  • Repair damaged areas to ensure the hardwood floor is even.
  • Finishing involves applying several layers of finish to protect and enhance the wood. 
  • Line marking makes an indoor basketball court or other sports facility fully functional.

Replacing a hardwood gym floor is a costlier process. However, it’s necessary if the gym floor is severely damaged, warped, or has been refinished several times. This process involves removing the entire floor and checking the concrete subfloor for damage. Then, a new maple hardwood floor is installed. 

Ultimately, the decision to repair or replace a gym floor depends on the specific circumstances and the severity of the floor’s condition. It’s crucial to balance the costs, safety considerations, and long-term durability to make an informed choice.

Related reading: When to replace a hardwood gym floor.

What is the process for refinishing the floor?

Refinishing an uneven hardwood gym floor restores its beauty and extends its lifespan. The sports floor refinishing process generally involves sanding, staining, and applying a new finish.

Here are the steps involved in refinishing a hardwood sports floor:

  • Remove the existing finish using a sander or chemical stripper.
  • Use a wood filler or epoxy resin to repair cracks between the boards.
  • Sanded the floor to create a smooth surface for the new finish. 
  • Thoroughly clean the floor to remove any dust or debris.
  • Apply the new finish, paint the lines and logos, and apply two more coats.

It takes around two weeks to refinish a gym floor. The refinishing cost depends on the damage extent, the sports hall’s size, and detailing like logos and lines. 

What type of finish is recommended for the floor?

Choosing the right finish for a hardwood gym floor ensures longevity and durability. Two common finishes used for hardwood maple sports floors are oil-based and water-based finishes.

Oil-based gym floor finish

This type of wooden floor finish is known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear. It also gives the floor a warm, amber color that can enhance the natural beauty of the wood. However, an oil-based finish tends to have a strong odor and longer drying time than water-based finishes.

Pros:

  • It provides a more durable and long-lasting finish
  • Enhances the natural beauty of the wood
  • Resistant to scratches and scuffs
  • Excellent resistance to moisture

Cons:

  • Emits strong fumes
  • It takes longer to dry and requires more time before the floor can be used
  • More difficult to clean up and requires the use of harsh chemicals
  • Costlier than water-based finishes

Water-based finish 

Water-based finishes for hardwood gym floors are gaining popularity because they are easy to apply and relatively eco-friendly. 

Pros:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • It emits fewer harmful chemicals and VOCs
  • Dries faster than oil-based finish
  • It provides a clear and natural look to the floor
  • Resistant to yellowing and fading

Cons:

  • It will not be as durable as an oil-based finish
  • Requires more coats to achieve the desired finish
  • May raise the grain of the wood, requiring additional sanding
  • It may not be suitable for high-traffic areas or commercial settings

How long will the new finish last?

The durability of a new finish on a hardwood maple sports depends on several factors. These include the quality of the finish, the amount of foot traffic, the type of sports played, and maintenance habits. Generally, a well-applied and properly maintained finish can last several years, ranging from five to ten years.

Here are top tips on extending the life of your newly refinished sports floor: 

  • Have a regular cleaning schedule for sweeping or dust mopping the floor daily.
  • Use protective mats at gym entrances.
  • Enforce a strict equipment and footwear policy.
  • Ensure all spills are promptly spill cleaned up.
  • Inspect the floor annually for any signs of damage, wear, or maintenance needs.
  • Schedule periodic recoating or refinishing as recommended by a flooring contractor.

What are the costs associated with refinishing the floor?

Refinishing an uneven hardwood gym floor can be a costly undertaking. The costs associated with gym floor refinishing depend on various factors. These include the amount of wear and tear on the floor, the square footage of the room, and any additional services required.

The average cost of refinishing a hardwood maple sports floor is around $3.00 per sq. ft. However, depending on the labor, materials, and additional fees, the total refinishing cost can range between $2.00 and $5.00 per sq. ft. 

Here are some ways to ensure you get the best deal on refinishing an uneven hardwood gym floor:

  • Shop around for quotes from multiple contractors to compare rates and services.
  • Ask the contractor for details on the products, materials, and techniques they will use to complete the job.
  • Inquire about any additional services or fees
  • Request a detailed quote listing all costs, including labor, materials, and services.
  • Find out if there are any discounts available.
  • Check references or reviews to ensure you hire a trustworthy flooring contractor.

take these precautions during the refinishing process to ensure the safety of athletes and staff

When refinishing athletic surfaces, it is important to take precautions to ensure the safety of athletes and staff. While it can breathe new life into a tired, worn-out wooden surface, refinishing a hardwood maple sports floor has potential hazards.

Here are some tips on ensuring everyone stays safe during the refinishing process:

  • Ensure adequate ventilation to prevent inhaling harmful chemicals.
  • Wear protective gear such as masks and gloves to avoid breathing in dust.
  • Mark off specific areas and post warning signs to ensure athletes, visitors, and staff are aware of the work in progress.
  • Always follow manufacturer safety guidelines when using chemicals.

Fixing an uneven hardwood gym floor: Takeaway

It is vital to avoid having an uneven hardwood gym floor in a sports facility. A solid maintenance plan can help you minimize the costs of refinishing a sports floor and extend its life. If you care properly for a newly finished hardwood gym floor, you can extend its life span and provide top-class facilities for athletes, students, and visitors to your establishment.

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J & J Gym Floors is a full-service gym floor company. Established in 2000, we’ve completed more than 35,000 projects for various types of facilities: NBA basketball courts, college gym floors, high school gymnasiums, K-8 gym floors as well as fitness centers, YMCAs and Jewish Community Centers. We also done some amazing work for homeowners and professional athletes! 

We specialize in: gym floor screening and recoating, basketball court sanding and refinishing, new gym floor installations, gymnasium wall padding, expert gym floor repairs as well as gym floor designs, graphics, logos and game lines.

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