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MFMA northern hard maple flooring is the predominant surface material for indoor athletic facilities worldwide. Why?

Physical Characteristics

MFMA northern hard maple (Acer saccharum) is dense, strong, supremely durable and remarkably hard. Perhaps surprising to architects and specifiers, MFMA northern hard maple is 12% harder than red oak, and 7% harder than white oak. Due to the shorter growing seasons north of the 35th parallel, MFMA northern hard maple is close-grained, hard fibered, resistant to slivering and splintering, and polishes well under friction. MFMA northern hard maple has an unusual ability to resist pointed pressure without abrasion. It is easily covered with attractive finishes.


MFMA northern hard maple flooring has a natural beauty. The natural light color is more visually pleasing to athletes, compared to darker hardwoods such as red or white oak. MFMA northern hard maple is densely grained with rich, consistent color and fewer imperfections than other hardwood species. The natural light color also provides an excellent contrast to paint used to stripe floors for such activities as basketball and volleyball.

Resiliency and Performance

MFMA northern hard maple is an organic product consisting of patterns of fibers and air pockets which give it a natural shock-absorbing quality. These characteristics, combined with specially designed and engineered subfloor systems, deliver performance and safety for a variety of sporting and activity applications. MFMA northern hard maple flooring is suited for a variety of uses, from residential to institutional.

Environmental Responsibility

Contrary to what you may have heard, we are not running out of hardwoods. U.S. government forest statistics shows that the U.S. grows six times more hardwoods than are harvested each year. Further, wood is the only natural resource on Earth that is at once renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and reusable.

The energy required to grow our timber supply is free — it comes from the sun. And, although wood accounts for almost half of the total annual industrial raw material tonnage consumed in the U.S., lumber and wood product manufacturing processes account for only about 4% of energy consumed by U.S. industrial raw material manufacturers.

Quality Assurance

Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association member mills are subject to periodic unannounced third party inspections to assure strict adherence to MFMA rules governing continuity of species, millage and grading of MFMA maple flooring products. For 115 years, architects have relied on MFMA's quality assurance when determining what surfaces to specify for their athletic, residential, commercial or institutional flooring installations. The MFMA grading stamp is every architect's assurance of consistent quality — specifying MFMA maple is the best choice.

Research and Resources

MFMA has authorized an independent testing agencies, Microbac Laboratories, Inc. and Rolla Coatings, Inc., to test floor finish products in accordance with strict standards. This program provides architects with valuable floor finish comparison and selection data.

In addition, MFMA Headquarters maintains a complete library of technical literature provided to architects free of charge. The range of literature covers subfloor systems, installation techniques, floor sealers and finishes, game markings, maintenance procedures and more. 

For these and many other reasons, it is not surprising that MFMA northern hard maple has been architects' first choice for indoor athletic surfaces for more than a century. MFMA beech (Fagus grandifolia) and MFMA yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) flooring also make fine choices for athletic flooring installations, and your MFMA Manufacturing Company member can provide you with a variety of surfacing options made from these species as well.

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