CAUTION: Slippery When Dirty

maple floor

We have all heard of NBA games being interrupted due to the basketball floor being too slippery for the high paid athletes to use the floor. In those instances, the slippery floor is caused from improper environmental conditions in the arena resulting in condensation forming on the portable maple sport floor which is installed over an ice hockey rink.

Most college recreation centers do not have ice hockey rinks under their gym floors so why do they get slippery? There are several things that can make a gym floor slippery, including the use of improper floor cleaners, failure to maintain a proper recoating schedule and lack of general maintenance.

There is no magic, all-purpose cleaner for maple floors because you are, in fact, maintaining the floor finish, not the wood itself. Floor finish formulation differs from product to product, so what may work to clean one floor finish may not be the best product to clean another floor finish. It is recommended to contact the manufacturer of the floor’s finish for recommended maintenance products. Never use household cleaning products or procedures. They can be harmful to the floor finish and the wood, leave floors sticky or slippery, and be potentially harmful for athletes.

To preserve the beauty and life of your maple floor, it is recommended recreational surfaces receive periodic refinishing. Facility use, abuse and maintenance will determine the appropriate refinishing schedule. Most gymnasium floors should be recoated annually as with age and use floor finishes become more slippery. Use a floor finish that has been tested by a third party to meet strict standards that encompass important characteristics like coefficient of friction, abrasion resistance, hardness, black heel mark resistance, etc. These tested floor finishes should be used when coating a new or old maple sport floor.

The most common cause of a slippery floor is lack of maintenance. It is recommended to sweep the floor daily with a properly treated dust mop. If the floor is used heavily, sweep it up to three times per day. This will prevent the buildup of dust, the No.1  reason a floor gets slippery. Never clean your maple sport floor using scrubbing machinery or power scrubbers that use water. Water is your maple sport floor’s worst enemy.

Paying attention to how your maple floor is maintained will keep the athletes that use the floor slashing and cutting, not slipping and sliding.


Daniel Heney is the executive director of the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association. He can be reached at or visit

Dan Heney is the Executive Director of the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association. He can be contacted at 888-480-9138 or by email at

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