I am ripping up my carpet in my house's great room to install a hardwood dance floor. Their are so many choices in wood flooring with solid, manufactured, engineered, strip, various types of wood, bamboo, locking, nail down, floating, etc... Does anyone have any good advice to give me. I do ballroom, swing and country dances and learning more. It will not be a studio but just a place to socialize and practice at home (24' x 12' in size).
I had about the same situation with a Room about 18 X 26. I went with a Master Portable Dance floor as it has its own spring built into it and that way I can remove if I ever move. While it cost more then installing a hardwood floor it provided better options in the long run. It cost about $10 per square foot at the time I bought it compared to around $4:00 per square foot for hardwood. Based on your room size you could do a Maple plywood floor for fairly reasonable $
These postings made me wonder about the various dance studios at which people train, teach or take lessons. I have never been in a studio in which the dance floor was built atop concrete. They have all been on the second floors of buildings for that reason, so as not to be on concrete foundation. But I am certain they do exist, and maybe only the professionals, using it over the long haul, would notice a difference in how their legs were reacting to the surface. Our studio also went with the Pergo surface not long ago, mostly because it is viewed as advantageous for the ballet and hip hop students who are pounding their knees far more than Fox Trot students. It is also less expensive to maintain. I didn't like it as much as the hardwood floor at first, but I have gotten used to it. This post was interesting to me, as I too am tearing up my thin carpeting with practice and lessons I give out of my home.
"I have never been in a studio in which the dance floor was built atop concrete. They have all been on the second floors of buildings for that reason, so as not to be on concrete foundation."
I've been in at least two built on slabs, but they were built/converted by knowledgeable dancers who used a complete flooring system - not just boards on concrete, but something to provide a moisture barrier and compliance under the boards.
Often if the room is very large and the dance floor does not cover all of it, there will be a step up of several cm to get from the surrounding building floor onto the dance floor. Some of today's clip-based systems are even compatible with rented space as you can take the floor apart into component boards and save almost all of them to reinstall elsewhere. The floor isn't actually nailed down, it just sits there, a cm or two smaller than the room if it goes to the walls to allow for expansion.
You can provide a semi-sprung surface for quite modest cost, even over a concrete base.
You need a damp proof layer first (or a completely dry concrete slab which incorporates a damp-proof layer already).
Lay two thicknesses of good quality rubber carpet underlay, and over that a thin layer of plywood or hardboard. Over that, fit inexpensive click-together laminate flooring. The purpose of the plywood/hardboard layer is to spread the load at the laminate joins, so that the rubber underlay gives the floor "spring", without any risk of the floor flexing at the joins (particularly under the weight of a lady's heel. The whole "sandwich" is not too thick, and it doesn't need any permanent fixing, so you can take it up again if you move, or want to renew the rubber underlay.
having personally installed more dance floors than I care to remember, even for the purpose you are stating.
I have worked in studios, many times , with " artificial" flooring. This material was NEVER designed for dance use. It is often used for economic reasons , and I can tell you from 1st hand experience, no matter the care, it WILL detereorate eventually.
The investment in wood does 2 things.. both important.. 1.. great surface on which to dance ..2.. add value to the room and the house .
Sprung floors are relatively easy to instal .The choice of hard wood is as much about cost, as it is about longevity . Most woods will outlive all of us if properly treated .Maple and oak would top my list .
Do NOT put polyurethane on the finished floor. A good parafin wax is all that it needs . Go to a lumber yard for material NOT to a DYI or chain outlet.. you will get a better price for volume .( and advice )
What hasn`t been mentioned is after the floor is down what type of varnish is going to be used. Be a bit wary of a two pack. We had a situation where a two part varnish was used, but come the time to re surface the product used had to be stripped. Nothing will stick to it, not even itself. It had to be removed completly right back to the bare boards. We often dance on vinal tiled floors as does Luca and Lorain. Google Luca and Lorain Foxtrot Demo to see.
Inexpensive laminate flooring can have a wood veneer surface, and be a perfectly acceptable surface to dance on. Mostly, a solid wood floor is protected by a surface coating (wax preferably), and we are dancing on THAT, and while we can see the attractive woodgrain through it, we are not in contact with it, and the spring/give that a good floor comes from the way that the surface is supported (that is, the springing, however it is achieved) and it is nothing to do with the top layer itself.
Telemark. Something has to be put over the bare timber surface. If you were to put Wax Polish onto bare timber you would never in the future be able to coat it with a varnish of any kind. Be very carefull. Leave it to the experts.
The one thing you should NEVER do to a ballroom floor is VARNISH!!!
Wood breathes.. if you let it , I dont know how many world class floors you have danced on but , from Blackpool to the Hammersmith palais, a waxed floor is what maintained their qualities for over 50 yrs .
"Telemark. Something has to be put over the bare timber surface. If you were to put Wax Polish onto bare timber you would never in the future be able to coat it with a varnish of any kind. Be very carefull. Leave it to the experts."
As terence has pointed out, true dance floors maintained for that purpose will never have varnish, so the inability of applying it in the future is of no concern whatsoever.
Many more commercial studios will use a varnish/polyurethance/etc finish, either out of traditional ignorance in the dance industry (which is not the same as the tradition of dance expertise), or for aesthetic reasons. If the finish is well chosen and has had a few months for the volatiles to evaporate it's not the end of the world.
Also if you have latin dancers who are going to oil there shoes, then a finish might make sense. But really better to prohibit this.
The floor that is danced on at Blackpool is through the year a convention centre and used for many other different attractions besides dancing. If you are into Darts you would know that some of the big competions are held there. The whole floor is decked out with tables and chairs . It must get scratched with the none dancing type shoes that get trodden on it.I can`t imagine that, that floor when it was first laid was wax on bare timber. The question is . When the floor was bare boards what was the first thing that was painted over those bare boards. As I said before if you are laying a floor at home first get some expert advice from people who know. In other places , like an Ice Rink. The Ice Palace in St Petersburg for one. They use a portable floor over the ice there. Next day its an Ice Rink again. This did happen here. There was a small dance floor in a place where Wedding receptions were held. The floor began to look a bit worn. So it was properly prepared. cleaned and hand rubbed down and re- varnished. What they didn`t know was that when new a two pack varnish had been used. Nothing will stick to it , not even itself . The very first time the floor was used it looked as if it was covered with snow. It had to be sanded back to the bare boards and this time no two pack material was used.
The laminate or real wood that clicks/locks together works well and can save you money. They either require installing a padding or have padding attached. I put cheap laminate in a large room in the basement for practising and that works well. I had to level part of the floor to do that, put it worked out well. My only regret is a did not putting better quality laminate in, like I did in 2 rooms upstairs. The good stuff would have been worth the 40% more it cost. But even with the cheap stuff on concrete, we are happy with the results. Any of the click floor are called floating, but probably are not as good as