5 Game-Changing Tips for Buying a Sports Surface
Buying a sports surface is a big decision and can be somewhat overwhelming and confusing. After all, with proper care and maintenance, you’ll be living with your decision for a long time – one that could potentially span your entire professional career. Here are 5 tips we have accumulated to help you make a better buying decision:
Tip #1 – Look Long-Term
When buying a sport surface it is important to look at this decision as a long-term investment.
Not every surface is designed equally. Some floors are designed to only last 10–15 years, while others, with proper upkeep and maintenance, can last 40+ years. Some floors are designed to be renovated in place to extend their life, while others cannot. Some may require complete tear-out & disposal at the end of their useful life, while others can be ‘retired’ in place and a new floor simply installed over top of it.
We recommend buying the best and highest quality floor that you can afford because sometimes spending a few more dollars upfront can save you money in the long term.
Tip #2 – Select a product that best matches the needs of your users and facility
There are numerous product types on the market, each having unique characteristics and benefits suited for specific applications. The challenge is that there are often several products that could be effectively used for the same application. To find the best floor for you, evaluate trade-offs like:
- Durability vs. comfort vs. gameplay response vs. estimated product life
- Competition use vs. multi-purpose use
- Uni-directional vs. multi-directional activities
- Usage rate: Number of hours per day, week, month, and year
Tip #3 – Buy from a reputable company
Do your research. Like Tommy Callahan in Tommy Boy, who tried so hard to communicate to a prospective customer “….it’s the company behind the products, not the ‘guarantee on the box’ that matters most….”.
We recommend checking the company’s product-specific reference lists, interviewing current owners about their experience dealing with the company, and asking questions like:
- How long has the company been in business?
- Do they have a reputation and history for being fair in dealing with customers and vendors alike?
- Do they have knowledgeable technical, sales, and customer service staff?
- Do they have full-time Research and Development staff?
- What innovations have they introduced to the market?
- Can they get quality materials to your job site with on-time delivery?
Tip #4 – Have your floor professionally installed
No matter how good the product is, you’re asking for trouble if the surface is not professionally installed by a trained, sports flooring contractor. Installing a sports surface is a skilled trade that requires significant training, experience, and collaboration with the manufacturer, general contractor, architect, and owner to ensure a successful installation and provide solutions to site-specific challenges.
As with many industries, there is a shortage of labor, particularly skilled labor well-versed in the installation of a sports floor. It is imperative that the sports flooring contractor chosen brings skilled installation expertise to your project. Here are some questions you may ask to help ensure this:
- Will they be utilizing employees or subcontractors for the installation?
- If they are using subcontractors for the installation, how many successful projects have they installed for them?
- Will the subcontractor be trained in the system they are installing?
- Will they have an employee field supervisor on-site? If so, will they be present every day?
Tip #5 – Take care of your floor
ALL sports floors require proper care and maintenance. We know budgets can get squeezed, but proper care and maintenance will add years to the life of the system saving you money in the long term and ensuring that the users have a safe surface to play on.
Take a look at our recent article on Annual Maintenance for more tips on proper maintenance of your new gym floor.
While we hope you choose Robbins and a Robbins Authorized Dealer, regardless of your decision, we want you to be armed with the best possible information before you buy. Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many projects where “buyer unaware” became “buyer remorse”.
(Jacksonville State University- Rec Sports Center sold and installed by Covington Flooring)