Wood is a hygroscopic material. When exposed to varying temperatures and humidities, it will release or absorb moisture until it is at equilibrium with the surrounding atmosphere.
The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) recommends that the facility's environment be stable when the flooring materials arrive -- air temperature between 55 and 75 degrees and indoor relative humidity between 35 and 50 percent. In some cases, the maple should be stored in the room where it will be installed for a period of time to acclimate. Consult your MFMA installer for specific acclimation information.
After installation, maple flooring typically requires a year or two to stabilize -- through a complete cycle of seasonal changes. The floor will continue to adjust to environmental changes throughout its life span.
The appearance of shrinkage cracks during drier months is not unusual. It is a general rule that if you can fit a quarter in a crack, it is considered excessive. Installation moisture contents or environmental conditions can both cause cracks to be excessive. These cracks will normally close in the months of higher humidity, as the floor picks up moisture from the air. We do recommend the use of humidification/dehumidification systems if available to maintain proper humidity levels.
If cracks persist, and the indoor atmosphere has been maintained between 55 and 75 degrees and between 35-50 percent indoor relative humidity (or no more than a 15 percent fluctuation between highest and lowest average IRH), contact your flooring installer or the MFMA immediately.
Maple is a hygroscopic material, meaning that it can absorb and release moisture from the surrounding environment. A hardwood floor is generally installed with a moisture content that is conducive to the geographical area. For instance, coastal areas are installed with a higher moisture content then that of an arid region.
The MFMA recommends maintaining a temperature between 55° F and 75° F with relative humidities between 35% IRH and 50% IRH. In regions that cannot maintain those variances, a 20° F temperature variance and a 15% IRH variance will not adversely affect the floor. In facilities that do not have humidification or dehumidification capabilities, it is important to monitor the environment in order to mitigate wide swings. Mitigation efforts can include the use of damper controls and circulating fans. Humidity can be controlled by temperature. For instance, a 10° F reduction in temperature can double the relative humidity. Conversely, increasing temperature can reduce interior relative humidity since warm air can hold more moisture than colder air. Facilities that do not have adequate HVAC equipment to regulate the indoor atmosphere or facilities that are closed up with no ventilation for long periods of time are more likely to develop flooring problems directly related to the environment.
We recommend contracting your sports floor contractor or the MFMA for more information.
The MFMA does not recommend the use of power scrubbing equipment or wet mops on your maple sports floor. Water is your floors worst enemy. Daily maintenance should include the use of a properly treated dust mop.
For floors that require a more aggressive cleaning regiment, the MFMA recommends using a properly diluted cleaning solution recommended by the finish manufacturer or your sports floor contractor, a microfiber cloth on a t-frame and a mister or garden sprayer. Apply a fine mist of cleaner to the floor in a path equivalent to twice the width of your t-bar. Make a pass back and forth across the length of the floor wiping up the mist applied. Continue cleaning the floor applying only enough cleaning solution to make a pass back and forth. You can view the process here.
The MFMA has published recommendations for daily, annual, and periodic maintenance. Contact your sports floor contractor or the MFMA for more information.
To preserve the beauty and life of your maple floor, the MFMA recommends that recreational surfaces receive periodic refinishings. Facility use, abuse, and maintenance will determine the appropriate refinishing schedule. Most gymnasium floors should be recoated annually.
Using a properly treated dust mop, thoroughly clean the floor. Before abrading the maple surface, walk the entire area to ensure that all foreign matter has been removed. Disk the floor with a fine grit screen back or steel wool to abrade the top layer of old finish. Do not use steel wool if applying a water-based urethane product. Touch up any game line paint or markings if necessary, and lightly abrade those areas when dry. Tack rag the entire surface until it is thoroughly clean, paying particular attention to edges and corners. Apply an even coat of finish in accordance with the finish manufacturer's instructions. Allow the finish to thoroughly dry.
Note: If recoating your maple floor on a biannual schedule, application of additional coats of finish may be necessary.
The MFMA developed sealer and finish specifications that will lend in achieving the highest protection and enduring beauty in hardwood sports floors. MFMA “approved” sealers and finishes have undergone lab testing to ensure conformance with all of the specifications set forth. This includes properties such as adhesion, drying time, co-efficient of friction, and many others. Using any product listed on the MFMA Conformance List will ensure that the product will stand up to the unique characteristics of a hardwood sports floor. To view the list of approved sealers and finishes click here.
The MFMA recommends protecting the floor when using any type of lift or other heavy equipment that will travel or be placed on the floor. Maple floor systems function extremely well under normal loads, however, on occasion significant loads can have detrimental effects. Excessive loading like those resulting from the use of point load scissor lifts can lead to surface degradation or weaken structural components leading to system failure.
The MFMA recommends using multi-layer protection when loading a floor system with any size lift in order to protect the integrity of the system and the quality of the surface finish. As an example, we recommend that when a lift (not to exceed a gross load of more than 4500 lbs. including operator, machine, and equipment) is used on the floor system, the floor should be protected with at least two layers of 3/4” thick, clean protective sheathing, with overlapping staggered seams. Protective material should include finish protection such as red rosing paper as well.
When operating equipment, wheels should not travel outside of the protected area, including while the machine is stationary or being moved. Do not leave heavy loads on the floor overnight or for extended periods of time.
For lifts or equipment where the machine weight alone exceeds 3500 lbs., consult with your flooring manufacturer for further recommendations.
The MFMA does not recommend the use of masking, construction, electrical, duct or adhesive tape to mark temporary court boundaries on the surface of a finished maple floor. Most tapes used for temporary markings have a different coefficient of friction than finishes applied to the maple playing surface and can impact a person’s ability to start, stop, and pivot. It is also quite likely that the tape, when removed, will peel away layers of the floor’s surface finish. Removing the surface paint/finish and exposing the maple can result in additional chipping and peeling of the remaining paint/finish in adjacent areas.
In addition, most commonly available tapes contain adhesive resins that can etch or stain the floor finish or even the maple flooring below the temporary markings. If additional game lines are needed, MFMA would suggest contacting your sport floor contractor about adding those game lines to your floor's surface. Another solution is to purchase a protective cover for your gym floor. You can apply tape to the cover or purchase it with game lines already applied.
The MFMA does not recommend shutting down HVAC systems for any extended period of time. The MFMA publishes recommendations which include a controlled environment with temperatures between 55° F and 75° F and interior relative humidities between 35% and 50%. Shutting down the HVAC system will likely result in widely varying temperatures and relative humidities, which may result in adverse conditions for your floor. See the MFMA’s position statement on “Humidity and Environmental Recommendations” here.