It's not that traditional hardwood sports floors aren't "green." They certainly are. Most flooring manufacturers bought their wood from forests where regular replanting practices replaced trees that were felled—and they did so years before it became fashionable to say so. It's simply that a traditional tree used for sports flooring takes anywhere from 40 to 80 years to grow to a size where it can be harvested to produce flooring. In recent years, there has been an increased concern that we not just use materials that are from sustainable forests, but that we also use crops that are rapidly renewable, refilling the forests that they came from as quickly as possible.
This concern has led to more and more products being manufactured from plants that are extremely rapidly renewable, like bamboo. That's because, unlike a maple tree, a bamboo plant will grow to its approximate mature height of around 60 feet within just a matter of months from the time that it was harvested. Although such an immature plant has not yet fully developed the internal hardness to be used for flooring boards, it can be developed within only about five to six years. When comparing that to the amount of time that a hardwood tree requires to grow to a size where it can be used for flooring, it's easy to do some simple math and realize that a bamboo plant can produce flooring at least eight times during the life of one single hardwood tree.
Furthermore, utilizing bamboo does not mean that you are sacrificing the quality of a fine hardwood system. Bamboo retains all of the working properties of a traditional hardwood in that it can be easily cut, nailed, sanded, stained and finished using traditional methods. It has also been shown to be an extremely durable surface with hardness test ratings higher than the more traditional woods like maple and oak.
Certainly, bamboo has a unique aesthetic that is different from the more traditional maple. It does not have the characteristic streaks and knots that we are used to seeing in a sports floor, but rather has the distinctive "knuckles" where the cane ends. But otherwise, bamboo has more of a uniform look throughout, with less variation in color from board to board. Bamboo is available in either a blond color, similar to a maple, or a darker "carbonized" flooring that is more similar to a walnut shade.
Although bamboo has been used in some fitness facilities in the past, these installations used a commercial bamboo that was not designed specifically for fitness. Only recently has there been a solid bamboo product that was produced to take into account the unique needs of athletes in a fitness setting. This newly developed flooring, Zenterra by Fitness Flooring, was created to provide the precise traction and impact absorption that fitness athletes require to perform at their best. It is the only bamboo system whose design has been shown to meet or exceed the exacting sports performance standards in both the DIN and EN Standards, the internationally recognized standards for sports flooring.
Zenterra is a totally free-floating floor that uses the steel spring installation method and rests over a layer of cushioning foam that allows the wood to move upon impact, then absorb and dissipate that impact. This design not only creates a floor that can be installed quickly and easily, but also one that can be easily reconfigured, added on to, or moved from one facility to another. The 7/8 inch solid bamboo surface is delivered prefinished, which aids in its fast installation and eliminates the need for expansive and time-consuming sanding and finishing after installation. However, should the surface become damaged or begin to show wear over the years, it can be sanded and refinished a number of times.
Overall, the surface is extremely easy to maintain since regular dust mopping and occasional damp mopping are all that is required to keep the surface looking new for years. The system is warranted for a full five years, which is equal to or better than you would expect to find with any solid hardwood floor.
Bamboo flooring is also eligible for LEED points, if you are looking to incorporate it into an overall sustainable design. It qualifies as a rapidly renewable material (MR-6) and a low-emitting material (IEQ 4.4) with one point possibly available for each.
With a host of quality surfacing, including Exerflex Group Exercise flooring, the new Zenterra Bamboo Group Exercise Floor and DuraFlex performance rubber flooring, Fitness Flooring is your source for quality sports floors for every room in your facility. We"ve been serving the industry for more than 25 years and have thousands of installations across North America.
Fitness Flooring is an advertiser in the February 2010 issue of Club Industry magazine and the Feb. 16, 2010, Going Green Special Report e-newsletter.