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More than a floor

Event Production, Features | October 1, 2012 | By:

Demand for temporary flooring that’s economical and easy to install is growing, and so are the features these floors offer.

It may be underfoot and not as eye-catching as other accessories used for tented events, but flooring plays a key role in determining how people experience everything from weddings and family reunions to corporate parties and tradeshows. Whether it is making uneven surfaces easier to walk on, protecting turf from equipment and vehicles or attractively paving the way from one area to the next, flooring is as aesthetically valuable as it is functional. And at a time when everyone is looking for ways to save time without sacrificing style, easy-to-install, economical temporary flooring is increasingly in demand.

“Flooring sales are a good indicator of how the event industry is doing,” says James Zacharias, senior events manager at Atlanta, Ga.-based flooring supplier Brumark. “Lately we’ve seen companies increasing their flooring budgets again.”

Arnon Rosan, CEO of Signature Systems Group LLC, based in New York, N.Y., has also noticed that customers are paying more attention to flooring. In particular, demand for temporary flooring that can handle varying degrees of weight when installed on uneven surfaces has grown steadily.

“In the past you had to go with heavy plywood that could take a lot of weight or you had to use lightweight, modular flooring that you put straight down on the ground in a tent,” Rosan says. “Now, a lot of lightweight flooring is designed to handle weight, so flooring is often the first thing you do, and then you build your tent and everything else around that.”

Features galore

Weight-bearing capability varies depending on the product. From Signature, EventDeck® is a light-duty option for flat indoor sites or a smooth asphalt parking lot, while ArmorDeck™ is heavy-duty enough to be used for vehicle and pedestrian traffic up to 20,000 pounds per square foot. “The entire floor of the Olympic Stadium in London was covered with ArmorDeck,” Rosan says. The 42-by-42-by-2-inch panel system has been used for events such as the NHL Winter Classic, where it was covered with an ice rink and used for 14 days.

Brumark’s FlexFloor™ product is available in rolls up to 96 feet long in various widths and styles, including looks that resemble natural stone and vintage checkerboard tile. Customers are particularly drawn to the Exotic Hardwoods collection, which offers the look of wood without the expense, Zacharias says.

Requests for custom flooring are up too, he adds, attributing this at least in part to Brumark’s effort to develop new ways for companies to express themselves using branded flooring at tradeshows and events. Brumark’s new FlexFloor Clear Choice™ is a lightweight, rollable flooring made of clear polyvinyl and available in five different textures, from smooth to diamond tread. The backside of the flooring can be printed with full-color custom graphics that are visible through the clear vinyl without being exposed to foot traffic.

Rosan says that Signature customers are moving away from the standard, gray look of portable flooring in favor of custom branding, colors and finishes that make an event unique.

“We’re not being asked to just provide typical floors as much anymore,” he says. “People want things like unique carpet or corporate logo rugs, so the temporary flooring is used more as a subfloor for these things.” Signature does everything from printing logos onto rugs and carpets to complex inlays in which the carpet is cut in a pattern that resembles a mosaic. “I think people really appreciate the fact that they have this beautiful corporate branding opportunity from the moment someone walks into their tent.”

Durable, danceable, versatile

Terry Ross, owner of Cleveland, Ohio’s Crowd Control Depot, a Signature flooring distributor, says customers like EventDeck because it can be easily rolled up and stored. But he recommends UltraDeck™ for most tented events. “It’s the next step up from EventDeck, and it’s nice because it gives you a stable surface that you can drive light equipment on if the underlying surface is fairly smooth,” he says.

UltraDeck’s 24-by-12-inch tiles can be installed over small dips and bumps in the surface below. It’s strong enough to make a good dance floor, though it looks a bit “utilitarian” on its own, Ross says. For most situations, he suggests customers use it as a subfloor and cover it with something like Signature’s DanceDeck™, which comes in a variety of colors and finishes. UltraDeck can also be special ordered in custom colors. A customer recently ordered it in black for an upscale event at a private equestrian center, Ross says.

Portafloor® is another economical brand of temporary subflooring, says Steve Card, general manager at Classic Events & Parties in Des Moines, Iowa. Available in varying styles, widths and lengths, Portafloor Grass EX™ is a rollable flooring often used to protect turf in and around tented events. The temporary flooring is designed to allow enough water and air to flow through it to keep turf alive and healthy for several days. “It’s an easy, affordable solution for light-duty use,” Card says. “Just don’t use it in a wet area because water will migrate up through it.”

Also appropriate for tented events, Portafloor Pro™ is designed for use atop smooth surfaces such as asphalt, cement and artificial turf, as well as living turf that’s very flat. “We’ve left it down for a week or so and the grass has been fine,” Card says. “We’ve got it out at the Iowa State Fair right now for 10 days.”

Guests may or may not consciously notice it, but a floor is the foundation—functionally and aesthetically—of an event space. Whether your event requires turf protection, a stylish look that’s affordable and labor-saving, a customizable solution, or all of the above, there’s an economical and easy-to-use flooring option to fit your needs.

Meleah Maynard is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor.

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