How They Do It: Pulling Off Today’s Bold Basketball Floors

Not long ago, gym floor specialists were known mainly for their ability to travel long distances to a job, use their riding sanders to sand vast expanses of maple, paint their lines and walk miles back and forth to get finish on the floor. It wasn’t a niche involving much creativity or imagination, and, except for painting the lines, it didn’t require much finesse, either.

Times have changed. While coating gyms still involves a lot of walking, what happens before that final coat could hardly be called boring. Today’s basketball courts are in-your-face, with huge logos and other wild graphics that are all about branding. Many people date this trend to the University of Oregon floor that debuted in 2010 (more on that in the sidebar “Into the Woods” below), with its forest of tall fir trees that broke the mold of traditional floors and even led to rule changes in the NCAA.

The effects have been far-reaching. While many NBA floors remain tame in comparison, NCAA floors seem to compete to outdo each other, and high schools and even junior highs and grade schools are catching on to the trend. How do wood floor pros execute the crazy designs? HF talked to some gym floor specialists to find out.