The Ultimate Guide to Gym Floor Covers

Shana Nissenbaum
Jan 6 · 13 min read

Maybe your facility has a beautiful gym floor that you’d hate to see damaged, or perhaps you would like to use your gym as a multipurpose event space for graduations or weddings. Whatever your reason, if you have questions about gym floor covers, this article has your answers:

What is a Gym Floor Cover?

The purpose of a gym floor cover is to protect your gymnasium floor from damage and dirt when not in use and allow your facilities to be used for other purposes, such as weddings, receptions, and conventions. Keep in mind that even a large floor covering system only takes a couple of people about 20 to 30 minutes to put down and take up, and with its use the cleanup and maintenance time following any event will be drastically reduced.

Gym floor cover deployed in the University of Tennessee Gym

Why Do I Need a Gym Floor Cover?

Gym floor covers have become a necessity in modern athletic facilities, and there are four main reasons why: gym floor cleanliness, time and cost of gym floor maintenance, the creation of multipurpose event spaces, and safety.

Gym Floor Cleanliness

Dirty gym floors can be dangerous because a floor with dirt, dust, and other debris can lead to an athlete being injured, and that injury can be anything from a sprained ankle to a broken wrist or even a concussion. In addition, allowing dust and debris to build up on a gym floor also leads to additional wear that can dull the surface and result in unsightly marks — all of which prematurely shorten the useful life of your gym floor. A quality gym floor cover, on the other hand, can keep much of that dirt and dust from accumulating.

Time and Cost of Gym Floor Maintenance

No one will argue that it is time-consuming and expensive to maintain a gym floor. Cleaning, sweeping, and polishing are all regular tasks that have to be performed not only to keep the floor looking nice but to keep it in proper condition for use. Annual re-coating is recommended, with more frequent treatments for floors that see heavy daily use. And experts recommend that your gym floor be sanded, resealed, repainted, and refinished every 5 to 10 years, depending on the amount of use and whether or not the floor is covered during non-athletic use.

The average cost of sanding and refinishing (including materials, labor, and painting) is $3.00 per square foot. So, for a 5,000 square foot gymnasium, this adds up to $15,000. Then there is the time during which the floor cannot be used; the entire process usually takes 3 to 4 weeks.

Then there is another issue: the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) says that even the thickest grade of maple flooring can only withstand up to ten sandings. Keeping your gym floor in good condition will reduce maintenance and increase its lifespan.

And to complicate matters further, maple flooring can be damaged when cleaning and polishing are done incorrectly or the wrong chemicals are used. For example, harsh chemical cleaners, automatic floor scrubbers, and the overuse of water can quickly wreck even the highest-quality gym floor. That’s why it is considered wise to limit the maintenance and cleaning that needs to be performed. Gym floor covers will reduce the time needed to maintain the floors, limit the cleaning that has to be performed, and extend the useful life of your gym floors.

Multipurpose Event Spaces

One excellent reason to invest in a gym floor cover is that it can transform your gym into a space for events such as weddings or receptions. Dances, for example, are often held in gyms but the floor can be damaged if you do not protect it properly. School gyms can also double as concert venues because of how easily they can accommodate large crowds. However, the volume of foot traffic during a concert makes it necessary to have a floor cover in place to prevent scuffs, stains from spills, and scratches. Gyms also work well for graduations, and many schools save money by holding graduation in their own gyms. Good gym floor covers will prevent gouges, scuffs, and other types of damage to your gym floors.

By adding gym floor covers, your gym can become a source of income. In addition to school sponsored activities (such as dances or graduations) or weddings, gymnasiums can be rented out as polling places in some states, serve as a meeting place for civic groups and fundraisers, or serve as a venue for trade shows, church conferences, or political rallies.

And not only do the gym floor covers protect your floors, but they also enhance appearance, improve acoustics, and enhance safety. Your gym floor can be transformed by hiding the markings related to athletics. Or you can add colors and graphics to demonstrate team spirit, aid in advertising, and give a visual shout out to your sponsors.

Safety

Gym floor covers can enhance safety as well. Both carpet and vinyl gym floor covers are more slip resistant than the hardwood used for gym floors, and there are floor covering styles with non-slip textures and patterns to further enhance traction. This can be important when there is a danger of slip and fall accidents and the potential for liability associated with them.

A good Gym Floor Cover can stand up to heavy use

Do I Need New, Used, or Rented?

Now that we have (hopefully) convinced you that you need a gym floor cover, we can get down to the nuts and bolts. You have three options: invest in a new gym floor cover that can be customized for your space both in terms of appearance and functionality, purchase a used gym floor cover at a lower cost but with wear and tear already present, or rent a gym floor cover and keep paying money for something you will not own. The last two are valid options if you do not have the budget for a brand new system. However, before you make that decision, take the time to learn about the different types of gym floor covers — there might be an option that will work for your gym and for your budget.

What Are the Different Types of Gym Floor Covers?

There are three basic types of gym floor covers on the market today: carpet tiles, vinyl roll systems, and pre-cut rolls.

Vinyl Roll Systems

Roll systems are fast and easy to put down/take up and are are made in 10’ wide sections and cut to the length you need. You can purchase a matching storage rack with either a hand crank or a motorized winder to make it even easier to put down a vinyl roll floor cover.

The rolls are made from an ultra-durable 3 ply fabric design that is PVC coated on both sides and has a tough polyester mesh in the middle. These gym floor covers are waterproof, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and rot and mildew resistant as well as fire-retardant to all standard fire codes (NFPA 701, CA Fire Marshal and UL 300). As mentioned, they are constructed in 10′ wide sections for easy handling and with heavy-duty seams made to lay flat and smooth. They come in 18, 22, 27, and 32 oz weights and are available in 15 different colors.

In addition to plain vinyl fabric, premium fabrics with a raised texture are available. These tarps have patterns that are highly slip-resistant and are available in 32 and 27 oz weights. They are produced in tan or dark gray, and come in 10’ sections.

Pre-cut Rolls

Pre-cut rolls are another option, and they come in 10' wide sections like standard vinyl roll systems. These pre-cut roll gym covers are available only in the most popular colors and 4 weights (32, 27, 22, and 18 oz) and are fire retardant to all standard fire codes. They are available in 10' x 100' sections for quick shipment and can be custom made to your gym floor dimensions.

Floor covers come in plenty of colors to match any school or university facility

Gym Floor Tiles

Gym floor tiles are an excellent floor covering solution that can be used during non-sporting events to cover and protect. Carpet tiles will not wrinkle, ripple or slide, and they successfully eliminate tripping hazards (i.e., no tape required). Tiles do cost more than alternatives, take a good deal longer to install, and take up more room in storage but, on the other hand, they have a very professional appearance. They are fairly easy to clean and dry, and their backing will not mar basketball court flooring.

Gym floor tiles are available in either carpet or vinyl and can be obtained various colors to enhance the aesthetics of your facility. Carpet tiles in particular are sometimes used because they can remove some of the echo in gymnasiums when they are used for school orchestra and band concerts.

Measuring Your Gymnasium Before You Order a Gym Floor Cover

First, measure the total length and width of the area of the floor that needs to be covered. To determine how many rolls of vinyl gym floor cover are needed, divide the width by 9 to 9.5. This will give you the number of 10 foot wide rolls you will need, as the rolls need to have some overlap to ensure full coverage and to make installation easier. Then, add 5 feet or so onto the length of the area to find the length of rolls needed, again to make installation easier and ensure full coverage.

Planning to extend the cover all the way to the wall is not recommended, as this makes installation and removal quite difficult. Instead, if 100% coverage is required, use of a runner down the width of the floor is advised. For more information and detail on how to measure a gym for your cover, take a look at this video that goes over the whole process.

What Should I Consider When Purchasing a Gym Floor Cover?

We’ve already discussed some of the features of gym floor covers, including fire retardancy and durable fabrics. Also keep in mind that many colors are available to match your organization or school colors and custom printing can be added to boost school spirit or display advertisements and sponsorships to help generate revenue.

If you are thinking about investing in a gym floor, there are some key points to consider. The first is what types of functions you expect to host in your gym. If you plan to use your gym for concerts, speeches, lectures, or concerts, then carpet tiles would likely be your best bet because they can enhance the acoustics of the space. They also look more professional than vinyl covers, which might be better adapted to events such as banquets, weddings, or conventions.

You should also consider how often the gym will be used or made available for other activities (how many times per week, month, or year) and how much foot traffic you would expect. This is especially important with vinyl covers, as the heavier the fabric, the better it stands up to wear:

  • 18 oz. — 1–6 uses per year
  • 22 oz. — 7–12 uses per year
  • 27 oz. — 13–24 uses per year
  • 32 oz. — 24+ uses per year

Something else to give thought to is how much staff you have available to handle the installation and removal of the floor coverings. Carpet tiles, for example, can be put down more quickly when more people are available to help. Most roll systems, on the other hand, only need two people, but these heavier products take longer to put down.

Finally, consider how many rolls of floor cover you will need in order to figure out which size storage rack will work for you. Racks come in 6, 8, or 10 roll configurations.

What Does New Gym Floor Cover Cost?

By now, you should have an idea of the type of gym floor cover you need, as well as what weight you need, if you are going with a vinyl cover. Pricing for a typical gym floor cover is heavily dependent on these two decisions.

Lightweight vinyl covers can cost as low as 70 cents per square foot, though typically they are somewhat higher. On the top end of vinyl, super-heavy-duty covers typically run between $1.10 and $1.25 per square foot. These thicker covers will stand up to a great deal more abuse, so the cost per use will end up being significantly lower than that of a lightweight cover.

Tiled floor cover systems tend to be higher cost per square foot, generally running somewhere between $2 and $3. Keep in mind, though, that for a vinyl system you will also need a storage system that can cost a couple thousand dollars, while for tiles you only need a flat cart.

How is a Gym Floor Cover Installed?

For vinyl flooring, it is strongly recommended that you have a storage rack because it does a good job of protecting your investment and it makes the installation and removal process easier. The first step is to place your rack in the corner of the gym and lock the wheels. With one person on each side of the rack, they should grab a corner of the covering and pull it from the rack by letting it unwind as they walk the full length of the floor. When the first roll has reached its end, then it is time to unlock the wheels on the rack and roll it sideways so that there is an overlap of 6 to 12 inches with the first vinyl covering. Then the process is repeated until all rolls have been laid down. The overlaps should then be taped down to reduce tripping hazards and prevent debris from making its way down to the gym floor. However, how much tape you use is up to you. Some people want every single seam completely taped down while others only focus on areas that pose the greatest trip hazard. This whole process should take roughly 30 minutes with two people.

Storage racks for vinyl gym floor covers are built to make installation easy

How do I Store a Gym Floor Cover?

Once again, we highly recommend the use of storage racks because they make it easy to both roll and store your gym floor covers. When covers are folded, you end up with creases that can become tripping hazards later on, affect the appearance of the mat, and eventually break down the fabric along those folds. This can all be avoided with the use of a storage rack. Another benefit of a storage rack is the prevention of static shock. Rolling/unrolling vinyl can lead to the buildup of enough static to be quite uncomfortable, but use of a rack that provides grounding can prevent that sometimes painful build up and discharge of static electricity.

There are also storage rack covers that can further guard your gym cover from damage during storage, protecting it from dust, spills, tears, and cuts. And the addition of a power winder can make the entire process of rolling/unrolling the gym covers much easier (keep in mind that they are heavy and can be hard to handle even with a hand-cranked storage rack).

How Do I Maintain a Gym Floor Cover?

The first step in maintaining your gym floor cover is keeping it clean. Before rolling up the covers onto the rack, use the brush assembly attachment (or a broom) and mild detergent to clean the cover and remove any stains, spills, or debris. Do not leave food, drink or mud trapped between the covers during storage; these types of materials will wear away the coating on the cover and may result in permanent (and unsightly) stains. So, in short, after each use, you need to sweep or brush off loose debris and use a mild detergent to remove any stains.

When you are not using the gym floor covers, they need to be rolled on the storage racks to keep them from creasing. This also keeps them from being exposed to unnecessary foot traffic and accidental damage. As mentioned earlier, the cover prevents damage to the rack and the floor covers and keeps the floor covers protected from leaks, spills, and dust.

A neutral color can work well for formal events

Is a Gymnasium Floor Cover Right for You?

Gym floor covers are an excellent investment, whether you go with vinyl rolls, pre-cut rolls, or tiles. They protect your gym floor from damage, reduce the amount of maintenance that needs to be performed on it, can enhance safety, and can make your facility into a venue for everything from weddings to concerts. They are easy to put down and take up, and their maintenance is straightforward. Gym floor covers also come with accessories to make them easier to store, install, and keep clean and protected.

If you are interested in getting a quote for a gym floor, contact the experts at a gym floor cover manufacturer like CoverSports today. We have over 145 years’ experience in providing protective covers for athletic facilities all over the United States. Our quality fabrics, competitive pricing, and outstanding customer service has enabled us to be an industry leader trusted by both professional and college teams, coaches, athletic directors, and facility managers. We look forward to helping you find the perfect solution to your gym floor cover needs!

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