There are a number of elements and attributes that make for an excellent tap floor. Let’s call them the three “S”: sound, safety and sturdiness.
Sound is the very essence of tap. Sound can be evaluated by volume of sound and quality of sound. Acoustics in the room also play a role in both volume and quality of the sound. The source of the sound, the tap hitting the floor surface and how the floor system handles that sound is the difference maker and dictates if the floor is contributing to the dance experience.
Tap is a percussive dance form. Thousands of foot strikes can result in injury if the dancer is not protected by a floating wood sub-floor that dissipates energy. That floating wood sub-floor will also amplify the sound no matter what the top surface is.
Adult or child tap dancers can inflict a lot of damage on a floor surface. Those metal taps, along with heel digs will create friction and denting levels of force that can destroy the wrong kind of surface. The surface must be able to reflect sound and be strong enough to withstand the pounding.
The ideal tap floor is not just a tap surface. It is dance floor system.
Right off one thinks of a wood floor for tap. There are loads of wood floors to choose from and the best hardwood floors are the hardest. Stay away from Pine (too soft) and look at Oak, Maple or Birch. Every wood floor needs a finish and that finish needs to be resistant to percussive dance and have the right co-efficient of friction to provide a surface that is not too slippery and yet accommodates the dancer’s ability to slide. Check with Stagestep for flooring finishes for wood that work with tap.
Wood floors provide and excellent surface for sound unless it is installed over foam sheeting or carpet. Ideally, wood should be installed over a floating wood sub-floor. Not only does the sub-floor provide shock absorption, the dead air space between the slab and wood allow the wood to vibrate and in turn amplify the sound. This combination creates a virtual musical instrument for tap.
Many performance spaces do not have this configuration and the stage needs to be miked. Unless very carefully done, miking can result in very uneven sound volume and the resulting quality can be somewhat tinny and/or echo.
Another excellent surface can be vinyl or marley type flooring. Just like wood, these floors come in a range of thicknesses and densities. Not all, and perhaps most, marley floors are not appropriate for tap. Generally the harder, thicker floors without foam backing work very well and require less maintenance than wood. The Timestep collection and Super Bravo Pro from Stagestep are excellent choices. All of the vinyl floors need to be installed over a floating wood sub-floor.
Make sure roll out flooring is lying flat to the sub-floor. Bubbles and creases can turn into cuts that are not repairable.
Stagestep offers portable tap boards, tap mats and a home hardwood floor system so you can keep tapping everywhere. Check it out at www.stagestep.com . We will be happy to answer any questions you may have, Give us a call on 800 523 0960.