You can make your costumes, save a bundle, spend a lot of time, but if you used flammable materials you could be in serious trouble.
Lease a studio with lead paint and asbestos and then you find out you are sitting on a toxic dump. You might as well punch your ticket.
Ever think about making your own pointe shoes? Probably not.
Shortcuts and great ideas do not necessarily go together. Now knowing what you don’t know and jumping into a project like building your own dance floor can lead you to the school of hard knocks, with expensive tuition.
When You Build Your Own, You are On Your Own
It is possible to successfully build your own dance floor system, save money and pat yourself on the back. But remember, you are on your own. No guarantee or expert advice if things go wrong later. The material you use can make or break your project. For your sub-floor, underlayment grade plywood or high-performance OSB are extremely reliable performers. They should be tested to have a moisture content of less than 10%. Plywood comes in lots of grades. If it is not underlayment grade you will probably put your foot through the floor down the road.
Today, most people use foam blocks or cubes. Foam should be closed-cell cross-linked to provide absorption and resilience. Really bad ideas include pool noodles, carpet underlayment, rubber sheeting, soft foam puzzle tiles, styrofoam and any foam product that is open-celled. Of course, having nothing between your wood and the concrete slab guarantees fatigue and injury.
Some try their hand at building a basket weave floor by staggering at least three layers of 1” x 1” beams. It is expensive, time consuming and permanent.
Never use nails or staples in assembling your wood substrate. Worse is loose laying the wood without dealing with connecting the seams. Use only countersunk deck screws. They will secure the wood. Nails and staples will pop up making the floor system un-danceable.
Never try gluing your dance surface to the wood unless you are a professional installer. Loose laying your floor surface is not a good idea because seams will open up and floor surfaces can expand and contract due to temperature variations in the studio. Use tape both under and above and be prepared to change the tape periodically. There is another option called ReUseIt, a netting that holds the floor surface to the sub-floor without top tape. It lasts indefinitely but is not permanent.
Trying to save a few pennies by getting a non-traditional floor surface can be both counter-productive and in some cases dangerous. Here is a hard and fast rule of thumb! If it isn’t a real dance floor surface you will end up with a real expensive do over. Tarps, basketball court protective covering, products designed for weight rooms, roofing, wall coverings and shower pan liners will not last, and in many cases are dangerous to use.
Where you get your products matter. Do they have the expertise and experience needed to provide vital information for putting together your dance floor? Do they know dance and what is needed for a viable and safe floor? Big box store and retail residential flooring outlets will not understand that your need for a non-slip environment is different from their criteria for people walking on a surface in leather soles.
Do they have maintenance products designed for your needs? Do they provide detailed instructions?
If you possibly can, test before beginning the project to build your own.
Stagestep provides plans and suggested materials at no charge. Staff is available for consultation on the phone or on their online chat room to help you avoid making costly mistakes.
It is a good idea to check out information from viable companies that cater to the dance floor marketplace. Better to do the research now before you make the effort to build a floor that will not last or meet the safety and performance needs of your dancers. Building your own dance floor should run about $5 per square foot. Buy a prefabricated sub-floor with a marley surface which will save you days of work, costs around $7-$8 per square foot. It is also transportable.
Check out our installation manual for all the details.