Whether you’ve had a dance studio for years or are just now preparing to open your doors, at some point you might want to consider installing proper flooring. Whenever you’re looking for dance floor material, there are several important things you’ll have to keep in mind: related to the safety of your students, in regards to your budget, and possibly even restrictions imposed by the building your studio is in.
The truth is there’s a lot that goes into a decision like this, and it’s likely more complicated than you may realize. In this article, we’ll touch on what you need to know about flooring: materials, installation, maintenance, and beyond. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, pun intended, so let’s dive in!
Dance Floor Material Costs - How Low Can You Go?
Some dance studio owners make the mistake of opting for the least expensive materials for their dance floor installation without any other considerations. Whoa there! Before you just assume you’re the best bet is to purchase the cheapest floor and be done with it, let’s look at a few things, shall we?
Sure, you could get the cheapest floor - but what if it starts getting scuffed up and dented, or begins to separate and come up off the ground? As a result, you might need to replace it sooner than you would have, if you’d chosen a higher quality, and perhaps more expensive flooring.
You might be able to repair the damaged sections here and there, but depending on how quickly the flooring becomes unsafe or uncomfortable to dance on, there is a chance you will have to replace most, if not all of it.
Another problem that can occur with cheap dance floor materials, is your dancers could get hurt while learning and dancing on it. How much liability insurance do you have? When an injury happens, and you’re called into court, the jury could rule in favor of the injured party if you didn’t have their safety in mind when picking your floors. With this possible scenario alone, can you really afford the risk of a bargain-priced dance floor or installation job?
Which bring us to our next point, don’t skimp on the installation either. Make sure to use qualified people for your dance floor installation. The last thing you want is someone getting hurt, or added unnecessary repairs due to subpar work.
Dancers being subjected to potential injury, and the risk of needing replacement flooring, are just the first two things that come to mind if you don't do your due diligence. Suddenly that “cheap flooring” just got a lot more expensive.
The Better Way To Handle Dance Floor Installation Decisions
A better way to handle dance floor installation is to consider all your facts before settling on a final decision. Here are the main considerations when choosing dance floor material:
Your dance floor should have “give.”
When someone steps on your floor, it shouldn't be too hard, and it shouldn't be too soft. In the words of Goldilocks, it should be “just right.” When you choose dance floor material that is too hard, it can cause repetitive strain injuries. On the flip side, material that's too soft can actually lead to muscle fatigue since moving on it requires more effort, and is tiring to work on. As your students move on the dance floor, it shouldn't be springy like a trampoline. However, it should be bouncy enough to absorb the energy of falls that can, and probably will happen while dancing.
For example tap dancing, you’ll want the act of tapping to produce a clear and concise sound. Whereas many other types of dance, you’ll want little to no noise at all. Some dance floor material such as thick vinyl softens the sound, as opposed to a hardwood floor that can produce a clean and crisp sound that you’ll want to hear with tap style of dance.
While the acoustics of your room will have an impact on sound as well, it shouldn’t be your flooring causing a distortion in noise. Therefore, you’ll need to take that into account when selecting your flooring.
Your dance floor material should be slip-resistant and provide the right level of traction.
You want your dancers to glide easily on the floor, but not slip and slide uncontrollably. At the same time, too much slip resistance can actually block movement, and as a result, lead to an injury. One of the most common injuries from this is a twisted ankle. Injuries like this could take a dancer out for a few weeks, months, or even an entire season depending on the severity of the injury.
So ask around, do some research, find out what other studios have installed, and make sure the amount of resistance you choose coincides with the styles of dance you offer.
The dance floor material should be “area-elastic,” and not “point-elastic.”
You might be wondering, what that means exactly. According to Tarkett Sports, “An area-elastic floor disperses energy over a wide surface area, while a point-elastic sports floor reacts in a more localized area.”
Area-elastic floors are better able to absorb the impact when a dancer lands on it. Point-elastic floors simply don’t have as much shock absorption. Even in the short-term, dancing on a point-elastic floor could lead to mild pain leading up to significant injury from the repetitive movements like jumps used in practice.
Choosing between sprung and semi-sprung floors for your dance floor installation.
A sprung floor is one that will provide some bounce, and also flex under impact so that it feels softer to move and dance on. The main benefit of having a sprung floor is that it will absorb the shock to a performer’s joints as they dance on the floor. An added benefit of having a sprung floor is that if a performer were to fall on it, there would be a significantly reduced chance of injury upon impact compared with falling on a floor with no spring.
Though dancers need a floor that will absorb shock to their joints, not all types of dance require a fully sprung floor. In fact, too much spring can be problematic depending on the type of dance being performed on the surface. As a result, semi-sprung floors are growing in popularity for dance studio owners. Semi-sprung floors are designed to dampen bounce, so they won't feel as springy like a trampoline, but they also give the performer just enough bounce to prevent injury and muscle strain.
In some cases, dance studio owners opt to not install a sprung floor due to budget. However, this could be a mistake, as the lack of spring in flooring can lead to liability issues. Your dancers must feel safe, and you need to prevent as many injuries as possible. You might be able to get away with installing a semi-sprung floor, which is often less expensive, but don’t skimp by opting completely out of having some form of a sprung floor.
Additional Factors To Consider For Your Dance Floor Material
How high are your ceilings?
This may seem like an odd question considering the fact we're discussing dance floor installation in this article. Believe it or not, though, the height of your ceilings can actually have a significant impact on the flooring you choose.
According to Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts (CEDFA), “A ceiling height of 20-24 feet is ideal, but 16 feet is the minimum height.” The reason for this is a dancer will need enough headroom so they never feel inhibited when jumping or doing other dance moves. Additionally, some dances require formations that involve dancers standing on the backs or shoulders of other dancers.
At first blush, 16 feet seems easily achievable in most dance studio spaces. Then again, if you choose flooring that is 50 to 100 mm thick, you're losing roughly a sixth to a third of a foot. And yes, some semi-sprung and sprung floors can be up to 100 mm depending on how much padding you install underneath the surface. Therefore, if you're in a building that has lower ceilings, the thickness of your chosen dance floor material could present a problem.
Can you install permanent floors, or are you wanting a portable dance floor installation?
If you are renting a studio, permanent flooring may not be an option. This is an important discussion you will need to have with your landlord. Permanent floors are typically safer, and more durable than portable ones. On the other hand, permanent floors are also more expensive in nearly all cases.
Are there environmental factors at play?
When considering your dance floor material, you also need to think about things like:
- The moisture of the building
- The strength and construction of the foundation you will be installing the floor on
- Whether or not there will be doors that will need to swing open onto the floor
- If you need to install ramps or barres - Where your barre is installed is dependent on how thick your flooring is.
- Is there a heating or cooling system under the floor? Depending on where your studio is located, heating and cooling ducts are sometimes under the floor, and this could change the condition of your dance floor material.
Will you choose hardwood, vinyl, linoleum, or some other floor surface?
Some dance studio owners choose hardwood because of the traditional look and feel of it. Hardwood flooring can be difficult to maintain though, as it tends to buckle, break, and splinter in certain conditions. For example, the heat and humidity in a place like Louisiana or Florida could cause wood to expand, mold, and even rot leading to costly repairs.
Your best option for the material you choose will likely depend on the area your studio is located. Research all factors of your dance floor material with the manufacturer, as they may be able to give you the best recommendations for your unique setting. Shop around, get a general consensus, and make your decision from there.
Dance Floor Material Maintenance
Once you have finally installed your floor, whether it’s permanent or portable, proper maintenance is crucial when it comes to how long it will last. After all, the things we take the best care of, have the most endurance.
Dance Teacher Magazine reported that “Maintenance of your floor is key. Make a schedule to dry-mop every day, wet-mop every week and give a full cleaning twice a year during your studio breaks. With good maintenance, floors can last you 10 to 15 years.”
They went onto say that permanent floors are the easiest to maintain compared with portable ones “because the seams are welded together to prevent water damage.”
Of course, the materials you use to wet-mop, and deep clean your floors may be dependent on the type of flooring you have installed. Soap and hot water, let alone wet-mopping at all, might not be a good idea on wood, for example.
You’ll want to look into best practices for maintenance with your dance floor material with the manufacturer as well. They might be tempted to sell you their specific brand of cleaner, but press them for alternatives, and they will likely give you plenty of options for getting the longest life out of your flooring.
Bottom Line: Your Studio Floor is More Than Just Something You Dance and Stand On
The options may be overwhelming when it comes to installing a dance floor. Still, we hope we’ve convinced you that choosing dance floor material is not a decision to be taken lightly. Making the wrong choice could cost you in the short term and/or the long run. That’s why it’s so important to think about all the facts and factors before committing to this choice, as well as, many of the other elements of opening a dance studio.To learn more about how to start your own dance studio, we hope you’ll bookmark and frequently visit our blog. And, if you see anything that you think could help your fellow dance studio owners, please share our posts with them.