Several Opinions on
| Over the years , ballroom dancing (dance) floors have been a
endless concern and discussion to both beginning dancers as well as
advanced dancers. I have danced on surfaces (represented as dance floors)
ranging from wood, black top, bricks, slate, cement and kentile. The best dance floor I have danced on was referred to as a "sprung" floor. This type of floor I'm told provides some resiliency to the dancers which resiliency is not provided by other surfaces. Tongue and groove hardwood(maple or oak) are best for durability and comfort to the dancing feet. I'm told that the wood is laid over a base of plywood and the plywood is laid over a variety of wood firring strips that all contractors do not agree upon. Most were in agreement that laying the wood surface directly over a concrete slab would cost the least but would be the floor least likely to survive heavy traffic or maintenance. I will not question their logic.
I do know from experience that the ideal situation is not always attainable
when it comes to finding comfortable dancefloors. When I have danced for any length of time (over and hour or two) on a floor laid over concrete I get what is known as "shin splints". The ailment occurs the next day (or at least the symptoms) up the front of my lower legs where the muscle (s) attach to the "shin bone". I have found the same problem when dancing on "beautifully kept" gym floors used for "sports" and ballroom dancefloor alternatively. The wood on gym floors is usually laid on end (as opposed to the flat side) and then the surface which is usually very beautiful to the eye is provided with a protection of some nonskid polyurethane lacquer. For basketball players in "sneakers" or "other rubber soled foot gear" it is ideally suited.
| Sometimes, I think, "sprung" means the floor is on
wood beams above an open space ... So if you want one, all you gotta do is dig a basement
More seriously: we had a wood floor put in our back room (16'x24')
for dance. We had it "sprung". Here's what goes down, starting from the bottom:
Original cruddy concrete slab.
Special very-liquid (and expensive) concrete to level slab.
Plastic film vapor barrier
Little rubber thingies, about 2" square and 1/2" thick,
specially made for this sort of thing.
1/2" plywood running THIS way
1/2" plywood running THAT way
3/4" oak strips.
It was rather expensive ... the special concrete to level the old slab was a good part of it. Apparently some architects and floor people know all about this stuff, if you just say "dance floor" or "sprung floor". On the other hand, we had some floor guys come over to look at it to bid on it, and they weren't interested enough to give us a reply of any kind! The result: when you jump up and down, someone can see the floor give under you. The result to you: no pain!
As for finish: getting the finish you want may be hard. The typical "dance" floor is much too slick for folk-dancer types. My suggestion is to get a cooperative contractor, and have him do samples until you like that sample.
Give me a call if you want to talk more. I could look up my records.
| This was originally a reply to a query of
mine asking for dancefloor information, because I was about to be involved in the
construction of a ~1500 s.f. ballroom floor.
We followed this plan, after having gotten *exactly* the same story (as well as a nice discount on the "little rubber thingies") from a local floor builder. Fortunately, the leveling concrete was not necessary in our case, and we used tar paper as our vapor barrier. The rubber thingies are stapled to the bottom of the bottom layer of plywood. I believe we placed them on 1' centers both directions, but check with a knowledgeable authority to be sure.
The whole sandwich is held together with the staples or nails which are shot into the tongues of the flooring strips with a special pneumatic gun. Our floor guy suggested the staples, which did work very nicely. (these are very serious staples.) You must leave space (we were told to leave a half inch) between
the floor structure (plywood as well as flooring) and all walls in order to accomodate swelling. We were also told to let the flooring sit for some time (seems like it was > 1 week) in the room to allow it to shrink or swell in response to the usual level of humidity in the room, which may be quite different than that where the flooring was stored before.
This makes for a very nice floor. We were very pleased with it; it was not squishy by any means, but it was certainly a far cry from dancing on tiles laid directly on concrete.
I say "was" because not long after we built this floor, the studio was flooded by a plumbing accident in an adjacent business and our floor was ruined. The whole thing was torn out and rebuilt (exactly the way we had done it) by a professional flooring company (paid for with insurance $.)
My only regret is that the floor was finished with what I believe was a polyurethane type finish. This made a O.K. dancing surface, because it was not put on too thick -- the texture of the wood was still apparent.(unlike the very glassy appearance of modern maple gymnasium floors) Nevertheless, I was hoping to follow the suggestion of another person who replied to my query and just saturate the floor with linseed oil after sanding it down. Once the floor has soaked the oil in for a couple of days the excess is wiped off, and the floor can apparently be used in a matter of days. I was hoping for this kind of finish because I am in agreement with the person who mentioned here that his (her?) favorite floor was bare wood worn smooth by dancing, and I figured this was as close as we could get and still take proper care of the wood.
Finishing the Floor
| Having just completed yet another refinishing job on dance
floors, I have gained a moderate amount of knowledge in this field. I must say this is a
job that is VERY labor intensive. It also requires patience. I do not recommend
Polyurethane, although it looks "pretty" it is not functional as a dance floor.
I do recommend "Dura-seal" the kind without Polyurethane. In the color of your
choice. Keep in mind not much of the color will be seen. However, don't mix them because
it will be obvious.
1. Sand floors remove all of the old finish. Use a drum sander for the major part of the work and an edge sander for the rest.
2. Throughly clean the floor. But, don't use a liquid, it will cause you to loose a whole day.
3. Apply the first coat of Dura-seal. There will be three. This should be the thickest coat. Application instructions are provided on the can you can follow these for the product. I also recommend the Quart size of Dura-seal. The gallon size is a different formula which takes longer to
4. Allow 24 hrs for the first coat to dry.
5. With 100 (00) sand paper remove ALL the dura-seal on the SURFACE
of the floor.
6. Apply a second and third coat of dura-seal. Allow 8-12 hrs of dry time between coats.
7. Remove ALL dura-seal from the surface of the floor. If any Duraseal
remains on the surface of the floor it will feel sticky in dance shoes.
You REALLY want to dance right on the wood of the floor.
Once you have completed this process the floor should last about 20-30
years. If you plan ahead you should be able to finish a floor in about 3 days (depending on the size of the floor). I finished 2600 sq ft. in three days with one helper.