A Field Day In The Field House

• In situ systems (including poured-in-place and padded polyurethane systems)

• Pre-fabricated systems (including PVC, suspended polypropylene tile, rubber tile and rubber sheet flooring).

Because of the tremendous variety of surfaces, there is no one way to remove stains or foreign matter. There is, however, some basic equipment that every facility manager should have in their arsenal.

Note: The following information is intended to address synthetic surfaces; for information on wooden floors, contact the installer of the floor or the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association. All synthetic floors come with instructions from the manufacturer; before implementing any technique discussed below, make sure it is recommended for that particular surface and that it does not void the warranty. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer or the contractor who installed the surface.

Regular Maintenance

If recommended by the manufacturer, floor scrubbers can be very effective at keeping many surfaces in good condition. These are available with various scouring pads and brushes. Most manufacturers recommend a specific type of pad and/or attachment, as well as a certain type of cleaner. Avoid using anything that might damage the surface, including hard polyester or nylon pads, steel wool, wire brushes and abrasive cleaners.

With heavy use or in wet weather, a floor may get dirty more quickly; floor-care professionals recommend that wet-mopping the floor with clean water should be the first step. If dirt remains, try a mild, pH-neutral (7-9), solvent-free and phosphate-free detergent. Allow the detergent to stand on the surface to break the bond of the dirt then scrub the floor slowly with the vacuum on and the squeegee in the down position to remove the dirt and cleaner from the floor. Allow the floor to dry overnight before activity resumes.

Even a resilient surface is not immune to shoe marks, which are generally caused by street shoes and black-soled shoes. Athletes can be required to wear non-marking shoes, but spectators are a different matter. Many managers solve the problem by creating lanes outside the playing area, and putting down mats or other coverings to keep the floor safe while games are being played.

If black marks do appear on the surface, using mild detergent and a scrubber as listed above may eliminate shoe marks; if not, regular buffing should do the trick. As always, check with the surface manufacturer for suggestions. Stubborn marks and stains that resist all gentle efforts to clean them should be brought to the attention of the surface contractor before stronger cleaning agents or techniques are tried. Remember that some chemicals may strip or discolor the floor.

Most athletic surfaces should be scrubbed monthly. The surface contractor or manufacturer can provide guidance as to which cleaners or tools to use, and on any techniques that should be used as well. On an annual basis, have the installer or a manufacturer’s rep inspect the surface to determine if any changes are needed in the maintenance schedule, and to identify any areas of concern.

If a facility includes a walking or jogging track around the perimeter of the athletic area, some additional maintenance jobs will be necessary.

Robert J. Cohen of Sports Surfaces Distributing Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M., says, “The owner can expect to wash the surface of the track with a pH-neutral cleanser on an annual basis. If the surface is smooth, this can be easily done with a mop or an auto-scrubber, a walk-behind machine that sprays cleanser, brushes it, and vacuums up the dirty water. If the surface is textured, use of a carpet-cleaning wand or an indoor-outdoor vac may be helpful to extract the dirty water from the textured surface.”

As always, the track installer or surface manufacturer may have additional recommendations.


A floor won’t look clean if the lights aren’t working properly. Lighting must be kept in good repair for it to be adequate for the athletes and spectators, and to create safe conditions. A well-lit facility also looks better maintained than one that has dark spots or dim bulbs; therefore, it is essential to immediately repair or replace any fixtures that are damaged or lamps that are burned out.

A variety of lamps, fixtures and mountings are available. Some light sources, such as high-intensity discharge (HID) and fluorescent lighting, require a warm-up period after being switched on, and before reaching maximum strength. Other types–such as incandescent lights–can be switched on and are immediately at full power. In many cases, changing lamps or repairing/replacing fixtures requires a contractor with special lifts or other equipment.

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