Why your dance floor is slippery and how to fix it.

The biggest problem dancers have with floors is that they are too slippery. Slippery is unstable and dangerous, a formula for disaster. But did your floor start out slippery or did it get that way over time? Just one of many questions that need to be answered before we can fix the problem

There have been many suggested solutions to slippery floors. Myths, inexperience and lack of expertise can result in failure or in making the problem worse. Be careful of what you hear and read. Well meaning people can lead you astray. With 47 years of experience in the theatrical flooring marketplace, we have dealt with just about every problem you could have.

The first thing is to figure out why the floor is slippery, second, stop doing things that make it worse and third, create a long term maintenance program.

Identifying the problem
You bought the wrong floor. If you purchased laminent, engineered wood or bamboo you are likely going to have slip issues. This is due, in part, to a factory finish applied to the floor that is way to fast (slipping) for most dance styles. Many people buy these products because they look nice and are inexpensive. What you really bought was trouble. The problem with factory finishes is they are next to impossible to remove. Most stripping products will not do the trick and sanding is not an option because it will destroy the vinyl surface. You can only sand or screen real wood (Bamboo is a plant). Slip NoMor will often work if it is compatible with the factory finish. The only way to find out is to try it. You can use a version of Floor Shield that will bond with most floors. Otherwise, the only answer is to roll out a marley type floor on top of the inherently slippery surface.

Try out all flooring surfaces before you buy. Make an informed choice but if it doesn't feel to your liking, don't get it. It will not improve with time.

A Stagestep's best seller, Super Timestep flooring, for Joffrey Ballet School in Long Island City, NY. Photography courtesy of Joffrey Ballet School, choreography by Serenade by George Balanchine and staged by Stacy Caddell.

You are the Problem
Sometimes the floor isn't the problem, you are. Perspiration and body lotions contain oil and just washing your floor with water makes matters worse. Oil is slippery. Water and oil do not mix so all you are doing is spreading the problem all over your floor. Solution: Use a detergent/degreaser with water to dissolve and clean up the oil residue (available from janitorial supply outlets or a cleaner from the dance floor company). Cleaning your floors with supermarket detergents is not recommended. Many have additives that leave your floor shinny and slippery.

Using Rosin is another no-no especially on vinyl floors. It is pine tar which hardens, gets smoothed out by friction of the dance shoes, and you end up having slippery spots that are hard to remove. Never use Rosin on marley type floors.

While you are at it, the following should never be used on your dance floor because they break down and dissolve the vinyl floor over time: alcohol, bleach, ammonia, acetone, vinegar, coke, steel wool and solvent, and all abrasive cleaning products.

Learn more about the maintenance products you should use here!

The weather inside is frightful
You have the correct floor and that floor is properly cleaned and you got rid of those nasty products that do damage and yet the floor is still slippery. It is probably the weather in your studio. Humidity and temperature fluctuations are often responsible for slippery studio floors. Very high humidity and very low humidity can be the problem. Keep the studio humidity around 50% and you will be on your way to solving the slip issue. This can be easily accomplished by either a dehumidifier or humidifier depending on your problem. Compounding the humidity issue (don't open the windows), temperature variation plays a major role. Warm air holds moisture, cool air dumps moisture on your floor. Combined with body oils and dirt, the moisture helps create a slippery layer that greets you first thing in the morning. Dry mop the floor, clean with appropriate detergent and maintain a balance of temperature and humidity and your slippery floor shall be no more.

What about wood floors
Environment issues aside, slippery wood floors are usually about the finish. Industry standards are not dance standards so make sure the finish you use is really non-slip for the type of movement (dance) you are doing on the floor. Pointe work is especially demanding when it comes to non-slip. Rosin does more harm than good even on wood floors. It works temporarily, is messy, and then becomes a problem when it migrates into wood. Slip NoMor gets better results, is easy to clean up and is applied uniformly to the entire floor. Getting back to the studio environment, remember that wood is a living thing. It will absorb moisture and expand. It will release moisture and contract. Control the humidity and you will have a consistent wood floor.

What else can I do
Dirt, grease and foreign objects are brought into the studio on the bottom of shoes. You can stop 80% of this mess from messing up your floor by putting floor mats at your main entrance and at the doorway into the studio. Welcome mats are not welcome. We are suggesting the mats with rubber blades and brushes. Clear them once a week and you will be saving time, money and having to deal with a slippery floor.

If you have questions, please feel free to give us a call for a consultation, or visit stagestep.com

Randy Swartz
President, Stagestep, Inc.
215-636-9000 ext. 105

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