Water being applied by staff, says Klooster
By Jason Musselman
It’s well-known that wood shrinks and expands with the seasons. The wood doors in your house might stick in the summer and then become drafty in the winter. It’s all because of the moisture in the air and wood’s ability to act like a sponge.
The fibers of the wood swell when the humidity is high and then shrink when the air is drier, which is normally in the winter season. Typically construction takes in to account for those changes with expansion gaps and methods to seal the wood from the changing air.
A new gym floor was installed this past summer in Glenn Buchert Gymnasium at Stark County High School by Prostar Surfaces at a cost of $88,200. And now that it’s winter, the floor was dramatically shrunk and is showing large gaps. In some places the substructure can easily be seen.
Many have wondered if there was there an issue with the installation or the floor itself, but Superintendent Jerry Klooster says he’s been in contact with the flooring company and they state all is normal.
Prior to the final payment from the district to Prostar, a checklist of items that needed addressed was first given to Prostar and Klooster reported all of those items were successfully addressed.
Those items included an error in the logo at mid-court, which was fixed at no cost and final payment was made. The gaps become apparent afterwards.
Klooster points to the several different factors highlighted by the installers, including the heating system in the gym causing very low humidity levels and the age of the floor. The latter is because the floor has only had one coat of sealant and not yet has received the numerous coats that will eventually seal all moisture in and from the wood. The floor will be sealed again this summer as scheduled.
The district considered sealing the floor now, but in doing so they would be filling the gaps when the wood is at its smallest size. Any expansion in the summer would then cause cupping in the surface, which is far worse than the original gaps.
In the meantime, Terry Mercer and the district’s maintenance staff have been manually adding water to the wood by using a wet mop and allow the moisture to soak in. Klooster says that process has helped, but the cracks are still present.
Prior to installation the wood was left in the gym to acclimate to the room conditions, however without air conditioning those conditions were similar to the outside in June and July and the wood swelled. Most floor installations nowadays are in air conditioned spaces which lowers the humidity, shrinks the wood, and results in less change when winter arrives.
It’s unlikely the gym will be air conditioned any time soon, but the district’s plan to remedy the situation and protect their investment is underway.