The primary reason people invest in a dance/theatrical flooring system is to provide a safe environment for performance activity. Specialty floors also provide protection from the wear, tear and environmental punishment from use in studios and on stage. 

There are three basic elements to a dance floor system: the slab, the subfloor and the floor surface. Each part plays a specific role.

The slab, usually concrete, is your foundation.  The foundation needs to be level, dry and structurally sound. However, you don’t want to have dancers jumping directly onto a concrete floor. When a dancer jumps and lands on a solid surface, THREE times their body weight is returned. This causes fatigue and injury over time. It is dangerous for dancers to be dancing directly over or on a solid slab.

In order to protect a dancer from direct contact with the concrete surface, performance venues and studio owners should install a floating wood subfloor. This is also appropriate for home studios.

The floating wood subfloor is the critical element when it comes to displacement of energy. A floating wood subfloor laid on top of the slab creates an air pocket that allows wood to flex and return safe energy to the dancer. The use of high density foam in subfloors allows it to absorb additional energy and reduces the impact on the dancer. The result is a subfloor that is reliant (springy) and energy absorbent. The foam backing also absorbs post-impact vibration in the floor.

The wood surface of a floating subfloor provides lateral foot support, which is very important for maintaining balance.

Specialized flooring surfaces and systems can provide (1) more or less surface friction to be compatible with different types of dance, (2) sound amplification for tap dance and (3) flexibility for studio, stage or touring needs, such as choosing between portable or permanent installation.

As a result, it’s important to use materials suited for dance, theatre and the performing arts. Our advice is to choose a hardwood or vinyl flooring surface.

Stay away from VCT tile, plywood, Bamboo, Masonite, wood laminate, carpet, concrete, stone, ceramic tile and rubber. They are inappropriate due to wear characteristics. Also, the coefficient of friction is not suitable for dance/movement activities. Carpet underlayment does not provide energy absorbent characteristics. There are other products used in building that people have tried to use as flooring such as roofing materials, wall treatments and shower liners. Most of these products have high VOC’s (a known cancer-causing agent). Be very careful and secure a safety data sheet (SDS) on any product before using it.

If you have further questions about choosing the right type of flooring system, please contact us at 800-523-0960 or [email protected].

Randy Swartz

Stagestep, Inc.