Whether setting up a practice studio in your home or a professional studio, you need to focus on setting up the proper flooring system to insure you minimize injuries and provide a safe surface that does not cause fatigue over time. A proper system includes two key components; a subfloor & dance floor surface.
A lot of people assume that you can just lay some hardwood flooring down on top of a concrete floor and start dancing. This is a very dangerous
idea and should be avoided. Think about it. With no cushioning below, as a dancer jumps on the floor there is no give when they land. This transfers all the force to a dancer’s body, damaging joints and possibly causing bone fractures. A subfloor will help mitigate this stress. A proper subfloor will consist of some combination of foam pads, some type of method to evenly distribute energy, and a hard smooth top deck. The foam pads will add some “spring” or “cushion” but also equally important is that middle layer that evenly distributes energy. Be careful while searching online as some manufacturers will sell only the foam pads. This isn’t an ideal system since the top deck will have hard and soft spots (for example, if a dancer lands directly on top of a foam pad the floor will deflect less if they land on an area that does not) which is equally unsafe for dancers.
Once you have the proper subfloor installed the next step is to pick the right dance floor surface. This can be either a hardwood floor or a vinyl floor system that you can roll out and install either in a permanent or semi-permanent manner. Some floor surfaces are better suited for certain types of dance, so you definitely want to pick the right floor for the proper dance application. A hard surface might be good for tap but not good for ballet, and vice versa. There are some floors that will combine properties to maximize dance applications which are suitable for larger studios that are teaching a variety of disciplines. Stay away from using carpet, plywood, tile, or stone surfaces as these may provide an uneven surface or provide too much/not enough “grip” or “friction” suitable for dance.
Dance floors are one area where you do not want to cut corners. Do it right and make sure you protect your dancers from unnecessary injuries. Remember to install a quality Subfloor that evenly distributes energy as you jump on it and cover it with the proper dance floor surface best suited for the type of dance you are performing on it. Start by researching products from reputable manufacturers that have a long track record of providing quality products. If you need help installing, contact your local specialty flooring or theatrical supply dealer in your area as they are a great resource for asking questions.