Portable Floor

The increased use of multipurpose facilities has created some unique problems for the hardwood flooring professional. Portable flooring systems are frequently dismantled and stored, which presents the opportunity for damage to the finish by marring, scratching, etc. Because of the timeframes involved for screen and recoats, sport floor finishes must develop film properties quickly to reduce the risk of scratching the surface during stacking and transportation. PoloPlaz World Class Finish develops chemical and abrasion resistance quickly to minimize damage. PoloPlaz Super Dry can also improve early film property development by reacting with the finish. This reaction improves early chemical and abrasion resistance, which helps to minimize damage upon stacking. Stacking the floors creates very high pressures on the bottom layers of flooring, which can cause permanent damage to the finish. Padding should be used between each flooring section to minimize damage to the finish. Floors should not be stacked before the 7-day initial curing stage.

Stacking Guidelines

  • Stack panels face to face, with padding between faces. Do not stack over 14 panels high.
  • Stacking material must be free of any surface texture (must be optically clear). Any texture will be imprinted on the finish surface while stacked, and will cause dull spots in the finish. Products such as 2 mil Melinex (available from Plastics Suppliers (800-722-5577)) should be used as stacking material.
  • Before stacking, clean sections with PoloPlaz Hardwood Floor Cleaner to avoid scratches from debris. Secure stacked sections well before movement to prevent the panels from rubbing against each other.
  • Do not use cardboard or foam as padding. Cardboard can scratch the finish during transportation. Most foams contain plasticizers that chemically attack the finish, causing permanent damage.

Due to their excellent chemical and abrasion resistance, PoloPlaz World Class Finish or Magnum provide the best protection for portable flooring systems. PoloPlaz is the finish of choice on many NBA and major college portable floors.

For complete information on stacking portable floors, contact the flooring system manufacturer.

Temporary Game Line Tape

Temporary game line tape is NEVER RECOMMENDED on sports floors coated with polyurethane, as there is a high risk of delaminating the finish from the floor when removing the tape. However, if tape must be used, use it at your own risk and follow these procedures to minimize damage:

  • The finish on the floor must be cured for at least 30 days.
  • Use only lightweight tapes that are easy to remove (3M brand 2080 & 2090).
  • Do not leave the tape on the floor longer than 24 hours.

Water-based tempura paint can also be used to create temporary lines (see warning below). The finish should be cured for a minimum of 30 days before using these paints. Test the paint first by applying it to a small, inconspicuous area. Allow that paint to dry completely, then remove it with a small amount of warm, soapy water on a rag or sponge. If the paint removes easily and completely, then apply it to the remainder of the floor as game lines.

WARNING 1. Tempura paints can sometimes attack and dull the sheen of the finish. These paints should be removed as soon as possible. Be sure to test the paint before using. 2. Use only white tempura paint. Other colors can bleed into the finish.

VOC & Sustainability

Be sure that temperatures of the air, floor and finish are all between 70°F-80°F. As the finish is applied, it will quickly reach the temperature of the floor. A warmer temperature can cause the finish to flash dry and not flow out properly. A cooler temperature can raise the viscosity of the finish, which could result in thicker coats, slower dry times, delayed curing and even wrinkling. High humidity can slow the evaporation rate of the solvents, which will extend dry times. Allow for longer dry times when applying in high humidity. Also, never apply finish when the ambient temperature and dew point are within 5° of each other. This could allow water to condense on the floor, contaminating the finish.

Low-VOC finish should always be applied at a minimum of 500 square feet per gallon. If the coverage rate is below that (i.e. 400 square feet per gallon), then the finish is being applied too heavily. This will extend dry times. For best results, use a heavyweight T-bar to apply. It’s a good idea to calculate the square footage of the entire floor and then place a new pail of finish every 2,500 feet. As you reach each new pail during application, you should have emptied the previous one.

It is important to eliminate outside air and turn off HVAC systems during application and until the film has become tack free (usually about 8 hours). Then, allow fresh airflow on the floor to help with the curing process by removing the solvents that blanket the film. Introducing airflow to a wet film will cause it to skin over and trap the solvents underneath, significantly extending dry times. Only allow air back on the floor once the film has become tack free.

Low-VOC products are high in solids. This is great for build, protection and gloss, but it also requires 24 hours before it can be top coated. Drying overnight may not be adequate in some situations, so allow for these products to dry for a full 24 hours before applying another coat.

Never use power scrubbers or automatic floor cleaners

Never use power scrubbers or automatic floor cleaning machines that disperse water on the floor (especially water under pressure). The use of scrubber machines will void the warranty on your floor. Power scrubbers were designed for other surfaces, such as terrazzo and vinyl floors. Even the softest brushes will scratch and dull the finish. The chemicals typically used in these machines are too aggressive for wood and finishes. The machine’s liquid and scrubbing action can cup the floor, and pull paint and finish from the wood.

Tie Tack

Use the following Tie Tack cleaning systems for periodic deep cleaning, tacking between coats, and to reduce spreading contaminants during screen and recoats. The mixing ratios indicate water to Tie Tack ratio, so 3:1 would imply three parts water to one part Tie Tack.

Periodic Cleaning, 3:1 – Mix solution in bucket and clean entire floor. If floor is heavily soiled, two cleanings may be required.

Tacking Between Coats, 3:1 – Do not increase the Tie Tack ratio. You must final tack with clean water only before top coating.

Clean Before Screening, 0:1 – Use Tie Tack at full strength before screening to reduce the risk of contaminants. Do not use it at full strength between coats.


  • In a bucket, mix the appropriate ratios of Tie Tack and water. Dip untreated cotton towels in solution and wring towels before placing flat on floor.
  • Place push broom on towel one foot from leading edge and fold leading edge over the top of push broom. Push towel the entire length of floor. Before returning back down to the floor, lift and move push broom back on towel about six inches so that only a clean portion of the towel is on the leading edge, and fold the soiled portion of the towel on top or behind the broom bristles. Repeat the process until there is not a clean edge on the towel. At that point, turn the towel over and continue.
  • When a towel becomes dirty or dry, replace it with a new clean towel. Never dip a dirty towel in clean solution. Continue cleaning with fresh towels until entire floor is tacked. If floor still appears dirty, it may be necessary to tack the floor again with the Tie Tack solution.

Screen and Recoat

Clean the floor with undiluted PoloPlaz Tie Tack. Normal tacking with this solution on a towel is sufficient. However, any concentrated areas of contamination can also be buffed with solution and a white pad – but do not apply excessive liquid on the floor. This cleaning procedure reduces the risk of spreading contaminates throughout the floor during the screening process.

Screen the entire floor with a 120-grit screen, changing as necessary. A floor is properly screened when it is thoroughly deglossed. A maroon pad may be used after screening to reduce the presence of any swirl marks that might show up in the finish coats.

Vacuum the floor thoroughly and clean peripheral dust so it won’t settle back on the wet finish. Using only water and clean towels, tack multiple times until the entire floor is clean (dark towels make it easier to see dirt that is collected from the floor). Allow the floor to dry completely after tacking, usually 30-45 minutes.

Turn off all airflow in the gym. If the HVAC cannot be turned off, block all intake ducts so airflow is reduced to an absolute minimum. Apply the first coat of Express or Dominator with an EZWay, lambs wool block or T-bar at 500 square feet per gallon. When using an EZWay, have a partner follow directly behind you with a lambs wool or T-bar to smooth out any harsh applicator lines.

Allow to dry for 4-6 hours. If within 24 hours, the second coat of finish may be applied without abrading the first coat. Please use your own discretion with this “24 hour rule,” as high temperatures and low humidity will shrink that time window. If abrasion is needed within 24 hours, screen with used 150-grit screens. If longer than 24 hours, used 120-grit or new 150-grit screens may be needed.

When using Express or Dominator, plan on two coats. Stay off the floor for two days and resume play after 72 hours. Install walk-off mats at all entrances and exits. Do not allow street shoes on the floor. Clean daily with PoloPlaz Hardwood Floor Cleaner and weekly with Tie Tack. Do not use automatic floor scrubbers, as this will void the warranty on your floor.

Panelization and Sidebonding

Sidebonding typically occurs when certain waterborne finishes or sealers flow between the sides of boards and glues them together. When several boards are bonded together they form into one large slab or “panel” of wood. This is referred to as panelization.

Panelization has been seen with several types of finishes, but is most prominent with waterbornes. Their high strength causes these products to act as particularly strong glue. These products also have very low viscosities, making it easier for them to flow into and through cracks.

As the humidity of the environment fluctuates, the wood will expand and contract in response to changes in its moisture content. Humidity fluctuations of 15% or more can cause substantial movement in the gymnasium floor. Normally, this movement is distributed over hundreds of cracks between individual boards. However, when several boards are panelized together, they leave larger-than-normal cracks at random spaces across the floor. The bond between boards is so strong that movement of the wood might cause a split right down the center of the board, rather than on the edges. Typically this occurs on gymnasium floors.  The floor itself can also be glued to the concrete subfloor, making movement impossible.

To minimize damage to your wood floor from panelization, be sure to:

  • Control Temperature & Humidity
    Often overlooked, controlling humidity fluctuations is undoubtedly the most direct way to control panelization by minimizing wood movement. All year long, humidity inside a facility should be maintained between 40% – 60%., and temperature should be kept between 65°F – 75°F.
  • Select the Proper Coating System
    With increasingly stringent VOC regulations, contractors are more frequently using waterborne finishes. Until recently, the use of waterborne sealers was not recommended for new floor installations.  The risk of panelization was just too great.

PoloPlaz has now developed NSB waterborne sealer which was specifically designed to eliminate damage to the wood floor as a result of panelization.  When used properly, NSB can be successfully applied on new floors and then top coated with a high-strength waterborne finish.

If a total waterborne system is necessary (including a waterborne sealer), the owner should be warned about the possibility of panelization, and how to combat it by controlling humidity.

Dry vs. Cure

Drying occurs when solvents evaporate from the surface of the film, leaving it tack free. There are four important elements of proper drying: temperature, humidity, film thickness and airflow. Temperature affects viscosity, which contributes to film thickness. Humidity affects the evaporation rate of the solvents. The amount of airflow determines how much oxygen will crosslink with the finish to initiate curing. High temperatures, low humidity, thin film thickness and adequate airflow will all expedite dry time and cure time. If these elements are not maintained properly, the finish could dry too quickly.

Curing occurs when residual solvents leave the film and it begins crosslinking with oxygen in the air to develop strength, toughness, abrasion resistance and chemical resistance. Although most finishes reach 90% cure in seven days, full cure takes up to thirty days.

Gym Maintenance

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature should be kept between 55°F-75°F. Humidity level should be kept between 35%-50% to ensure minimal wood movement.

Routine Cleaning

Dry mop the floor daily to eliminate dust buildup. As needed, tack floor with PoloPlaz Hardwood Floor Cleaner to remove perspiration, oils, spills and residue from foot traffic. Do not use dust mop treatments or floor cleaners that contain wax, paraffin, silicone and mineral oil. Do not use pre-treated dust mops. Use of these products can cause adhesion problems when recoating the floor. Dirt, sand and grit will dull and accelerate the wear of the finish. Place floor mats or rugs at all entryways, bathroom exits or other high traffic areas to remove excessive dirt or moisture. Spills or liquids on the floor should be wiped up immediately.

Power Scrubbers

Never use power scrubbers or automatic floor cleaning machines that disperse water on the floor (especially water under pressure). The use of scrubber machines will void the warranty on your floor. Power scrubbers were designed for other surfaces, such as terrazzo and vinyl floors. Even the softest brushes will scratch and dull the finish. The chemicals typically used in these machines are too aggressive for wood and finishes. The machine’s liquid and scrubbing action can cup the floor, and pull paint and finish from the wood.

Floor Covers and Mats

Gym floor covers should never be used on a freshly finished floor until at least three weeks after the last coat of finish has been applied. For complete curing, the finish surface must be exposed to oxygen in the ambient air. Covering the floor during this process would deny the oxygen needed to complete this reaction, potentially resulting in a partially cured coating with poor physical properties. Also, it is imperative that the floor be cleaned before the cover is laid. Otherwise, any grit or dust on the floor will mar the floor when the cover is walked on or when any loads are moved on the floor. Covers should not be taped to the floors. The adhesive in most tapes will attack the finish and result in delamination.