Sports hall and dance studio floors – what’s the difference?

Would it give your school more flexibility if you knew that a modern, good quality sprung floor is suitable for both multi-purpose sports and most dance disciplines?

For new build schools and refurbishments where a new dance floor is needed, the designer or school representative will often ask for a floor that is “not a sports floor” because they have been told that sports floors are not suitable for dance. At first, I found this surprising because I knew that both dancers and athletes needed similar performance from the floor. After some time, I began to understand how this misperception was created.

Dancers and athletes prefer a floor that is comfortable, safe and will not cause them fatigue. This translates into a floor that is shock absorbing, has the right level of slip resistance (not too little, not too much) and does not deflect too much when the person lands on it. Good housekeeping also demands that the floor needs to be quick and simple to clean and scuffs can be removed easily. Here in the UK specialist dance floor suppliers will often tell customers that sports floors are not suitable for dance. This is largely an attempt to keep sports products out of “their” market. Any company that offers both sports and dance floor systems knows this argument simply does not add up. It is revealing that specialist dance floor suppliers publish performance data for their floors using technical standards designed for sports floors! Alongside this their rationale is that sports floors are hard and unyielding (not true), and sports floors are designed for ball sports, which is of course not relevant to dancers. Badminton players will know that not every indoor sport uses a ball, yet both dancers and athletes’ tendons and joints are equally protected by a shock absorbing floor and having optimum slip resistance. There is a technical performance standard for sports floors (EN 14904), but no equivalent standard exists specifically for dance floors. There is a reason for this. Some years ago in the US, the dance community discussed the creation of their own technical standards. They compared dancers’ needs with the existing sports floor standards being used in Europe and the US. They found that the German sports floor standards DIN 18032 was also very suitable for multi-discipline dance. In 2006 the DIN standard was superseded by EN 14904, which is very similar. This is why you will see references to EN 14904 and DIN 18032 in
technical information from both sports and dance floor manufacturers. Proof it was needed that the fundamental performance of sports and dance floors is the same.

What does this mean for schools in the UK?
If you have a “sprung” sports or dance floor that complies with EN 14904, or the current Sport England recommendations, especially if you have an area elastic floor (e.g., hardwood rather than soft cushion vinyl surface) your activity spaces may be more versatile than you thought.

Comment by Richard Aylen
Technical Manager,
Junckers Ltd

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