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How To Soften a Hard Dance Floor

Quality Dance Subfloors Don't have to Be Expensive


By Julia Nass

As with every sport, safety and self-care are of the utmost importance in staying injury free in dance. Of course this includes the basics, such as warming up and stretching. What may not be as obvious, however, is the role a dance floor plays in a dancer's health and safety.

Dancers spend countless hours on dance floors turning, leaping and moving. Each movement may not feel much different than the last, but for lower extremities, small impacts with the floor add up. Over time, high-intensity connection with the floor can create damage to muscles and joints.

Studies have shown that a softer dance floor with higher shock-absorption reduces the impact of movement on muscles and joints. At the same time, a dance floor can't be so soft that one's movement is altered. It's important to find the right balance between cushion and hardness in a dance floor.

There are a ton of different dance floor options on the market, ranging in stiffness, quality and price. Although reduced stiffness floors are recommended for dancers, many of them cost a fortune to purchase, not to mention the cost of installation. Fortunately, there are money- and time-saving options.

Dance Subfloors

By installing a inexpensive dance subfloor, you can soften a hard dance floor without paying a cringe-worthy amount. Greatmats recommends a few difference dance subfloors, all of which are meant to be installed under an all-purpose marley vinyl surface top. Read on to learn which subfloor might be right for you.

High Density Foam

If installing a dance floor over concrete, utilize a high density foam as the base layer. Greatmats recommends Sports Plus Designer Foam tiles, which are 2x2 feet in size and ⅜ inch thick. These economical dance subfloor tiles create the right amount of separation between the unforgiving concrete and the marley surface.

Foam tiles are easily installed with a puzzle-piece style interlocking system. With this system, it only takes minutes to have the dance subfloor complete. From there, simply lay the marley surface on top for a complete multi-purpose dance floor. No adhesives are necessary for the creation of the dance floor. However, you can tape down the sides of the marley surface if you so choose.

If you're starting from scratch, Greatmats offers a package that includes 20 feet of Adagio marley dance floor, foam tiles and a roll of tape - everything you need to create an entire dance floor yourself. The price of this package deal is slight in comparison to the dance floor prices that often range in the thousands of dollars.

Be aware, a foam underlayment is not the choice subfloor for advanced ballet and pointe. The flooring is a bit too soft and slow to respond for pointe. If the dance floor will be mainly used for pointe, use a plyometric rubber underlayment instead. Rubber rolls provide a firmer base and are also extremely economical.

Plastic Court Tiles

If you're wanting to install a dance floor over carpet, there is no need to tear up existing carpet. Instead, you can use the carpet to your advantage. By installing hard plastic tiles over it, carpeting acts as the cushion layer for the dance floor. Greatmats recommends Flat Top Court Tiles as the firm surface over carpet and under the marley layer.

These low-priced dance subfloor tiles are made of high-quality polypropylene plastic. They are designed with a supreme, tight-fitting loop and hook connecting system. All you have to do is snap tiles together for an installation you can count on. Once tiles are put together, simply lay the marley layer on top, tape down the sides if you choose, and voila! - you're ready to dance.

Combining Foam and Plastic

Another option for installing over concrete or other hard surfaces is to layer plastic court tiles on top of foam tiles. This type of dance subfloor layering achieves maximum cushion and support. Install foam tiles first, then place plastic court tiles directly on top. Because of the grip of foam tiles, plastic tiles will not shift around. Layering foam tiles and plastic tiles is a cheap subfloor alternative to sprung dance floor systems.

Sprung Dance Floors

Sprung dance floors are a highly sought-after option, as they provide just the right amount of flexibility to help prevent injuries and accentuate movement. At the same time, sprung dance floors also provide enough resistance so movement stays seamless.

Typically, sprung dance floors are one of the pricier dance subfloor options. However, Greatmats offers competitive prices on sprung dance floor systems. Greatmats' sprung floor panels can save you loads of money down the line because of their portability. Almost anyone can install panelized sprung floors themselves, and they are just as easily deinstalled and transferred to a different home or studio.

Greatmats offers sprung floor panels that feature a wavelock connecting system, which eliminates all soft and hard spots across the floor. If you already have marley and wooden panels, there is no need to start over with an entirely new floor. Greatmats also has DIY sprung subfloor panels that yield the perfect underlayment for any marley surface.

Final Note

Dance floors are subject to so much wear and tear that it's of the utmost importance to install a high-quality, durable floor. When you choose to invest in a dance floor, it should be an investment that will last you. Greatmats understands that higher price doesn't always mean higher quality. That's why at Greatmats, you can invest in a dance floor that won't cost you an arm and a leg, but will yield all the quality you could possibly hope for.
For more on this topic please review our Dance Flooring product page.