Strati Climbing is re-covering, and they aren’t talking about COVID.
In climbing gyms, re-covering basically means taking off the current cover of your existing bouldering flooring and re-covering it with a custom-fit, brand-new cover.
It’s a simple solution to a common problem, and one that the Strati crew is taking care of in 2023.
Re-Covering Lost Ground
Re-covering can extend the life of a bouldering floor by many years and help a gym save on flooring costs. By how much? A new cover is typically a fraction of the cost of an entire new floor system. Every re-cover is a unique situation, but gym operators have generally saved between 50% and 70% when all’s said and done.
Of course, the foam underneath must still be properly functioning for a re-cover to be possible. Compressed foam, overly soft foam (deflection), or excessive foam dust are not good signs and may indicate more extensive repairs will be needed before re-covering, or even that re-covering won’t be feasible. But for many climbing gyms out there, that’s simply not the case.
“It just made total sense. The foam was still in really good shape. A new system would have been a total waste not just of money but of materials,” said Mateo Navarro, Site Manager at Mesa Rim Mission Valley in San Diego, which recently had its bouldering floor system re-covered by Strati. Mission Valley’s flooring was only four years old and, with 900+ sign-ins a day, the heavy-use areas were already showing wear.
Further east, the New Orleans Bouldering Lounge (NOBL) was having similar woes. NOBL co-founder and CEO Garret Mortensen described the decision to re-cover as a necessity. “We get a lot of traffic. We are constantly inundated. Some of our [bouldering floor] spots have a lot of traffic. The foam was holding up, but the vinyl was not.” Mortensen and staff were in a routine that many gyms know well: “We were always patching, patching,” said Mortensen. Their floor was five years old.
It’s part of the normal lifespan of a vinyl floor cover to eventually wear down, especially in high-use areas. Patching is not a long-term solution and becomes an aesthetic and safety issue, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the whole floor system needs to be replaced.
Waste Not, Want Not
A huge bonus of re-covering is the reduction in waste. Every time a new floor is installed, the old flooring is generally sent to the landfill. A successful re-cover delays—by years—the trashing of a flooring system’s interior. And, according to Mortensen, installing a re-cover has benefits that go beyond flooring alone.
“For us, flooring is a tool for preserving the walls,” Mortensen continued. “The reality is [that] the topper we chose protects our walls…With the humidity [in New Orleans], people are constantly using chalk, and what ends up on top of the vinyl ends up on the holds. It was filthy. Now with the new carpet topper, the holds on the wall stay much cleaner.” NOBL staff have found that the new carpet cover catches whatever is on the ground or on climbing shoes and keeps it from getting onto the wall.
Re-covers clean up well, too. According to Navarro, “The new topper vacuums so well—it looks new and fresh.” Maintenance of bouldering flooring is always a pain, but the end result of that labor is not always the same. “[Carpet top] is murder on the vacuums. We have to buy a new one every 12 months and we have a regular vacuum maintenance routine, but the cleanliness of the gym has increased so much. It is sooo worth it,” said Mortensen.
Strati offers multiple re-cover options, including cordura (ballistic) and vinyl, but carpet over vinyl is the most popular choice. The reason is because carpet acts as the wear layer on top which takes the daily beating, while the vinyl underneath is the structural layer that holds the system. When the carpet is ready to be replaced, the vinyl below may be undamaged.
Walking on Sunshine
Both Mortensen and Navarro were excited about the minimal impact the re-cover process had on businesses. “It was a ninja-like situation,” Navarro said. “With over 900 sign-ins a day, it [would have been] devastating for us to shut down, but they were in and out so fast.” The 3,000-square-foot job took just two evenings, outside of the gym’s business hours.
Mortensen appreciated the Strati team’s work ethic, as well. “They started at 8:30pm on one side of the gym and were done by 4am,” said Mortensen. That’s a total of 1,700 square feet of flooring, re-covered in just over 7 hours. And since NOBL closed at 10pm that day, the effect on business was minimal.
Mortensen painted a big-picture vision of the value of the re-cover: “People feel value in the aesthetic appeal of the gym. It is human nature to want the gym to look nice. If you aren’t providing a comfortable, clean aesthetic, then you just aren’t competitive at this point.”
In other words, flooring is an integral part of business planning. “If someone is lukewarm on climbing, then your facility is what is going to sell them,” Mortensen said. “The floor, the clean gym aesthetic, is key to bringing in new clients.”
Re-covering is a flooring solution with a huge ripple effect on your gym. As you plan for your long-term gym maintenance, re-covering is a solid option in terms of cost, cleanliness, and environmental impact. Hard to find a better value than that.
For more information or a quote on re-covering your floor: email@example.com
This story was paid for by the sponsor and does not necessarily represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.
Strati Climbing provides climbing safety flooring for gyms, universities, rec centers and homewalls, with a down-to-earth focus on hard work and relationships. Strati (Italian for layers) was established by owner Ernest Coletta and molded from years of varied personal and professional experiences, relationships with people and businesses, and a drive to continue to grow and create. People and businesses have many layers that form them, and Strati looks forward to being part of your new layers.