Gymnasium floor sockets, also known as floor sleeves, are an essential component of athletic spaces in schools, recreation complexes and a wide variety of other sports facilities. Setting up netting equipment to play sports like volleyball, badminton and pickleball requires properly installed floor sockets to hold the posts safely in place. Since there is a wide range of floor sockets on the market, it is imperative to be informed about the various options in order to choose the right one for installation.
Floating versus Fixed Sockets
Floating sockets are used for hardwood floor applications. Most hardwood floors are not anchored to the concrete slab and are considered to be ‘floating floors.’ They also, by nature, will produce some movement through contraction and expansion, depending on the relative humidity (RH) variations of the environment. RH can originate from the concrete slab and/or the surrounding air. As RH increases, the hardwood expands; when it decreases, the wood contracts. This is why floating sockets are necessary — they can easily adapt to these circumstances.
Floating sockets consist of three parts to allow for movement: a socket to accept the post diameter required; a flange; and a flush-fitting lid. The flange is the ring that surrounds the socket and supports the lid in place. It is installed in a fixed manner to the hardwood floor, not to the actual socket. Since the inside diameter of the flange is larger than the opening of the socket, posts can still be inserted into the socket even if the hardwood floor contracts or expands.
Fixed sockets are used for synthetic flooring applications, such as Omnisports, PolyTurf Plus and LinoSport. Synthetic sports flooring systems do not fluctuate in relation to RH levels. Fixed sockets are comprised of just the socket (composed of the tube sleeve and flange) and a flush-fitting lid. They are the ideal choice for synthetic floor surfaces since they remain stable and in place.
Floor Socket Materials
Brass is one of the most widely used metal alloys. Made of copper and zinc, its natural colour is very similar to that of gold, which is why it is often used for accessories and decorative elements in buildings. Brass is known for its durability and anti-bacterial properties. And while brass tarnishes easily, this only affects its lustre and not its performance and sturdiness over time.
Steel is known for its exceptional toughness and durability. It provides structural integrity, impact resistance and long-term strength. It also will not corrode or rust when covered with a zinc coating, even when a scratch or cut exposes the steel to air or moisture.
There is a socket made with a combination of materials; the top part and lid is stainless steel and the socket tubular portion is Nyloil. Stainless steel possesses great strength for impact and corrosion resistance to provide long-term value for gym floor sockets. The bright surface of stainless steel contributes to a modern and attractive appearance. Where cleanliness is of top importance, ease of maintenance makes it a good choice for environments like schools and community centres. Nyloil is a cast nylon with oil lubrication dispersed throughout the material. This built-in lubrication reduces friction and abrasion on the posts and extends the life span of the equipment.
If new sockets are required, coring procedures are necessary. Coring consists of drilling holes with a diamond core drill in the concrete slab to the size of the sockets. If the sockets must be moved to another location, the remaining holes in the floor should be filled with a high-quality cementitious non-shrink grout designed for this purpose.
To ensure the stability of sports accessories, it is critical that the proper sockets are installed in a flush-fitting manner with at least one-inch of concrete remaining below the bottom of the socket. This will in turn keep athletes safe from sports equipment failure.
When planning socket installations, it’s important to always request drawings of plumbing, electrical and any wiring that may be found within the concrete slab. It is also essential to know of any conduits running under the slab. If drawings cannot be provided, the floor must be scanned to ensure it is clear of these elements. In addition to affecting personal safety, hitting a water line could cause severe flooding, while severing an electrical conduit could result in a complete power shutdown of the facility. These are very costly mistakes that building owners and installers want to avoid.
Approved game line drawings are also an integral component of floor socket installation. These drawings help ensure the correct number and size of sockets are supplied, and provide accurate positioning of the sockets in relation to the game lines.
Changing Socket Locations
In situations where floor socket locations are changing from existing positions, it is critical to confirm that any new socket sizes and locations will work with existing equipment post diameters, heights and netting lengths.
There are cases where the existing sockets are in good condition and do not require relocating. However, the newly installed flooring material can be higher than the original flooring. The option of retrofitting a new socket ring and cap to compensate for the height difference is both an economical and aesthetically pleasing alternative.
Julie Charette is the marketing and communications coordinator for Advantage Sport, a leading provider and installer of high-performance and innovative sports flooring surfaces. Advantage Sport has been at the forefront of the Canadian sports flooring industry for more than 40 years, offering technical knowledge combined with a wide range of product options, resulting in a turnkey service that covers every detail, from initial concept right through to project completion.