Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wet basements don't have to be a problem with raised flooring

If you are a homeowner with a basement, it's likely you've had to deal with moisture problems at some point. Some of those problems can be solved as easily as running a dehumidifier during times of heavy rain or high humidity. For others, it's a persistent problem that not only leaves pools of water on your basement floor, but can cause thousands of dollars in damage to flooring, furniture and other possessions. We'll address the issue moist basements, and give you options on how to deal with concerns about flooring in these areas.

Basement moisture can be caused by a variety of factors including floods, roof runoff, condensation and permeation.

Most basements are made of concrete. Concrete, while extremely durable and readily available, does have its flaws. One of which is, it is porous nature. As a porous material, concrete will allow water vapor to permeate through it and cause moisture problems in your basement. This becomes especially troubling as concrete ages and begins to crack.

The problem with basement moisture

Hardwood and fiberboard are generally discouraged as a basement flooring option as they will absorb moisture, expand, warp and rot. They also can and will harbor mold and mildew, creating a hazardous environment for your home and family, in terms of air quality and possibly structural damage. Other flooring made with organic materials run the same risk and will need to be replaced should flooding or persistent moisture problems occur.

Keep in mind that just because a flooring material may be waterproof, it doesn't necessarily mean that it should be used in wet areas. The flooring may not be damaged by water or moisture, but it may trap that moisture underneath it if not installed correctly, creating the same mold and mildew issues as wood and carpeting.


There are several methods of battling the problem of basement moisture, including landscaping, creating vapor barriers and raised floors. While proper landscaping can direct rain water away from your house, it doesn't always solve the problem of water vapor. In extreme cases, such as flooding, a sump pump may be a necessity. Vapor barriers typically involve some method of sealing your concrete walls and or floor with coatings paint or adhesives. It can also involve large sheets of felt or plastic.

Why Raised Flooring?

Raised floors create a gap between your flooring and the concrete, which prevents the moisture from becoming trapped. Air flow under the flooring encourages the moisture to dissipate without having to remove your flooring at each occurrence of moisture buildup.

One of the simplest ways to create a raised floor is to purchase flooring tiles designed just for that purpose. Most of these tiles feature a waterproof plastic base with holes or channels that allow for air movement. Some even offer a perforated top that permits air to not only travel horizontally, but vertically as well. Most raised floor tiles also have some form of interlocking system that will allow to to easily install, remove and reinstall without damaging the flooring, should the need arise. Below we'll identify some of the top forms of raised floor tiles you can use to convert your moist basement into a home gym, family room or kids play area.

Carpeted family room

If you are dead set on turning your basement into a carpeted family room, but don't know how you can with all of the moisture problems, raised carpet tiles are your answer. You'll want to find a raised carpet tile with a waterproof base material and preferably a waterproof carpet fiber as well. Greatmats offers a raised carpet tile called CarpetFlex Floor Tile that features a polypropylene base topped with a polyolefin ribbed carpet. The carpet top is environmentally friendly, chemically resistant and won't decompose in wet environment. It is made of the same materials as active wear, known for its ability to transport moisture away from the body. Meanwhile the waterproof raised base keeps the carpet out of standing water, giving you the ideal carpeting system for your basement.

Den or Man Cave

Create your very own sports den or man cave complete with artificial turf by using artificial grass turf tiles. These raised tiles can be used indoor and out as the polypropylene grass is attached to a perforated polypropylene base that allows for superior air flow. They are 100 percent waterproof and have a lush surface with a carpet feel and outdoors look.

Dance and fitness area

Give your basement family space a wood or stone floor look with Max Tile Raised Floor Tiles. These tiles feature a waterproof raised plastic base topped with a commercial grade vinyl surface. Extremely versatile, Max Tile floors are popular for dance floors, aerobic and exercise flooring and show room floors. They also have to option of ramped border edging and feature a 5-year warranty.

Kids play area

Design a colorful kids play area with raised flooring like the Ergo Matta CushionTred tiles from Greatmats. Available in eight colors,
these Rubber and PVC tiles offer excellent sound dampening qualities and have a non-slip diamond shield tread design. Available with edge ramps, these tiles are guaranteed for 5 years.

Home Gym

You can use those same Ergo Matta CushionTred tiles for creating a home gyms as they offer anti-fatigue benefits. Another option for home gym flooring in damp areas are the Staylock bump top tiles which are durable like rubber and cushion like foam. They will help protect your from the floor and the floor from your gym equipment while cutting down on noise.


If you are looking to use your basement as a workshop, StayLock tiles may be just what you are looking for with their durability and anti-fatigue properties. Made of durable recycled PVC, they are also waterproof, resistant to most acids and oils and easy to clean. In addition to the bump top surface, StayLock tiles are also available with orange peel and perforated surfaces. To top it off, there are multiple color options available to help you create interesting designs, pattern or color schemes. StayLock tiles feature a 5 year warranty and also come in different surface options. The expected life span of this type of flooring is 20 years.


Accessorize your basement bathroom with perforated tiles like SoftFlex Floor tiles. These soft PVC tiles are designed specifically for wet areas such as shower areas. With a perforated top, the raised tiles allow water and air to flow through in any direction and will not absorb moisture.

Note: Foam and rubber basement flooring is also available, but may not be the best choice for damp basements as most of these options sit flat against the existing flooring and can trap moisture.

Covering your dirt floor

While most basements have a concrete foundation, some are dirt. But that doesn't mean you can't have a finished floor. It just means you may need to get a little more creative in the way you cover these surfaces.

You'll most likely want some sort of plastic perforated playground tile such as StayLock Perforated Tiles or Ergo Matta perforated tiles. These non-absorbent tiles are designed for outdoor use and are resistant to mold and mildew. They also offer fall protection that would make them fitting for a basement play area. These perforated plastic tiles are flexible and interlock, allowing them to be placed on slightly uneven surfaces and prevent separation.

Now that you know what tools are at your disposal, go ahead and create a basement space you'll love. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mulch or Mats? Which is better for playgrounds?

Whether you are planning to build a playground at a home, school or park, the play surface should be of utmost concern. You'll want to keep children safe without breaking the bank. You'll also want to make sure it looks nice for a long time. Two of the most popular playground surfaces are mulch and rubber mats or tiles.

Mulch can come in many forms, including wood chips and rubber mulch, and is generally an inexpensive form of playground surfacing.

Wood chips, shredded bark mulch and engineered wood fibers are environmentally friendly, biodegradable and renewable natural resources. They'll also give your playground a natural look and feel.

Of these materials, wood chips provide the most fall height protection, ranging from 7 to 11 feet with uncompressed depths of between 6 and 12 inches, respectively. Compression does not greatly affect the fall height protection of wood chips, but does lessen the protective benefits of both shredded bark mulch and engineered wood fibers. All forms of wood mulch perform better for fall protection than hard particles of loose fill, such as sand or pea gravel.

Rubber mulch is generally made of ground up tires, extending the useful life of millions of pounds of materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. They also reduce fungus and plant growth in your playgrounds, creating a weed barriers. The elasticity of rubber mulch is excellent for shock absorption, and is far superior to wood or bark mulch in breaking falls, providing 10-12 feet of fall height protection with an uncompressed depth of 6 inches. This material will also last up to 12 times longer that wood mulch, decreasing the maintenance and replacement costs.

Unfortunately, recycled tire mulch can contain trace chemicals from the manufacturing process and use on vehicles. With that being said, the Environment Protection Agency has endorsed the use of recycled rubber for playgrounds after research determined the materials not to be harmful. Those findings have been backed by multiple other studies.

A down side to loose fill playground surfaces is that they will need a retaining barrier to be installed in order to keep the fill from spreading away from the play area. Even with a barrier, loose fill will disappear over time (in pockets, shoes and spillage over the barriers) and will need constant additions or replacements, especially in the case of wood mulches which will break down over time.

Thickness of loose fill surfaces can and will vary with use as it will be displaced from impact of children coming off slides, swinging on a swings, falling, etc. It can also be affected by wind, heavy rains or other extreme environmental conditions. Loose fill can hide potential dangers, such as screws, nails, broken glass or syringes and should not be installed over a hard surface like concrete. There is no good way to clean loose fill, especially wood mulches which attract insects and can develop mold and fungus when wet. Wood mulch can also contribute to scrapes and splinters, especially when dry.

Mats and Tiles
While more expensive to start, rubber playground mats and tiles are durable, easy to create designs or patterns and easy to maintain. They will not need any form of containment and are more handicap accessible than loose fill playground surfaces. The material will not shift or displace and any potential danger from sharp objects will be exposed on the flat surface. Mold, fungus and insects are not an issue with rubber playground flooring.

Should a rubber mat playground surface need to be cleaned, it can be easily done with a broom or garden hose. Like rubber mulch, rubber playground tiles and mats are also made of recycled tires and have been known to last for decades. Some even feature warranties of 10 years or more.

Bounce Back Rubber Playground mats from Greatmats are
fall height rated for 3-10 feet depending on their thickness.
Should a playground mat or tile become damaged, they are typically easy to replace with a new tile.

As for fall height, protection you'll want to check with each manufacturer as they can vary, depending on design and thickness. At Greatmats, you can find rubber playground tiles that are up to 4 inches thick with fall height protection of up to 10 feet.

Proper installation is critical when using rubber mats, however. Improper installation can result in tripping hazards and a decreased lifespan of your playground surface. Many rubber mats and tiles interlock, preventing seams from separating. Rubber playground tiles are also heavy, will not float or freeze, making them extremely resilient, even in extreme weather conditions.

As you can see, not all playground surfaces are created equal. When choosing your surface, make sure to consider how heavily the space will be used, the environment in which it will be installed, up front cost, maintenance, repair and replacement costs. This well help ensure children will have a fun and positive experience on your playground. By reading this, you're on the right path to protecting both your children and your pocketbook.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Comparing grappling mat materials and surfaces

Grappling is a form of hand-to-hand combat that includes wrestling, judu, jiujitsu, BJJ, etc. With groundwork and throws making up the majority of grappling skills, traction and shock absorption play key roles in proper flooring. Here we will outline some of the most popular materials and construction techniques to provide you with a home training surface with which you will be happy.

Core Material
When choosing your grappling mats, the core material is essential, as you will want your flooring to not only provide the appropriate level of cushioning and shock absorption, but also the desired stability and firmness under your feet.

The most common commercial core materials are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) nitrile foam, cross-linked polyethylene (PE) foam or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, all of which are closed cell foams which are durable will not absorb water. These foams are more pricey than open cell foams like carpet padding, but will last much longer without absorbing moisture and harboring mold and mildew.

Typically, grappling mats are available in between 1-2 inch thicknesses. If you plan to do a lot of throwing, thicker mats usually provide better shock absorption than thin mats. Some grappling mats, such as Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats 1-5/8 Inch, are even tested for fall heights and will give you an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) fall height rating.

PVC nitrile foams are the traditional material used for competition wrestling mats. They are the heaviest and most durable option of commercial mat and also the most expensive. This material is flexible enough to be double sided and still roll up for storage.

Grappling mats made with a cross-linked polyethylene foam are becoming more
popular due to being lightweight, durable and lower priced than PVC nitrile foam core mats.
Cross-linked PE foam is a newer, less expensive and lightweight alternative to the PVC nitrile foams. This foam is firm in nature and introduces some bounce as well as shock absorption to the mat. This PE material is great for home grappling use. It is typically one-sided and scored on the back, allowing it to be rolled up.
EVA foam grappling puzzle mats come with the same warranty as other pricier options.
The Home MMA BJJ mat from Greatmats also features a molded tatami surface texture
that is ideal for barefoot training and won't cause mat burns. 

EVA foam is the least expensive option, providing most of the same benefits of the other materials without some of the cosmetic durability. While it does not lose its functional benefits with extended use, the wear and tear will be more visible. These mats usually came in puzzle mat form (interlocking tiles) and can be double sided.

Surface texture and material
The surface texture of your grappling flooring can make a big difference in how you train and as well as the safety and comfort of your training space. Grappling mats can be wrapped or bonded to vinyl or canvas. They can also, in the case of EVA foam mats, have the surface texture molded into the same material as the core. The two most common textures are smooth and tatami.

Smooth surfaced mats lend well to use with shoes, but can become slippery when training barefoot. They are also less like to cause mat burns on your skin than more textured surfaces.

Vinyl tatami or canvas surfaces provide extra grip when training barefoot, and are very durable, but are well known for causing mat burns.

EVA mats with tatami texture molded into the surface, provide the grip needed for barefoot grappling training without the risk of mat burns. Keep in mind this surface will scuff, but it will not affect its performance.

Mat size and repair
The larger the mat you get, the fewer seams you will have to deal with. While nearly all wrestling or grappling mats offer a one year warranty, some are easier to install, repair or replace.

Your PVC nitrile based mats usually come in the largest rolls (5+ feet wide and varying lengths), but can be cumbersome to install – especially in a home environment or by a single person. The mats can be factory reconditioned or resurfaced should they become damaged.

Cross-linked PE foam mats are often significantly smaller and more lightweight rolls (in the 5x10 foot range). They are lightweight and easy to install by a single person. Should they become damaged, cross-linked polyethylene foam grappling mats can be repaired with a patch, but can not be reconditioned or resurfaced.

EVA puzzle mats usually come in square tiles 2-4 feet in diameter. They cannot be repaired, but are often double-sided, so they can be flipped. Puzzle tiles are also easily replaced in as small as 4 square foot sections without the need for tearing up the entire grappling floor.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chicago non-profit research determines Sterling Roof Top Tiles as best surface for rooftop patio

When Melanie Rose was tasked with finding a replacement for curled and tattered 3/8 inch thick EPDM roof protection mats at Jews for Jesus in Skokie, Ill., protecting the roofing membrane under their rooftop deck/patio was her primary concern. She researched nearly a dozen different kinds of roof mats and tiles before deciding on Sterling Roof Top Tiles from Greatmats.

After experiencing severe curling with the previous mats, the Chicago-area non-profit facility was looking for a material that would first and foremost protect the roofing membrane. As the thickest and longest lasting option, Sterling Roof Top Tiles were a clear favorite for Melanie and her Chief Administrative Officer at the San Francisco headquarters.

Among the factors that came into play were customer service, price and durability against foot traffic, furniture and weather conditions.

The eight-year-old roof protection mats to be replaced not only failed to protect the roof membrane after they began curling, but also became hazardous to walk on and left black carbon on the feet and clothing of children playing on its surface.

All 11 of the mats considered for the new surface were interlocking mats, but the 2” Sterling Roof Top Tiles were the only ones with more than a 1” thickness. Melanie spoke at length with sales representatives from each company and was impressed with the knowledge and professionalism of her Greatmats representative who confidently pointed her in the right direction and sent her a free sample. She eventually narrowed her field of options to the Sterling Roof Top Tiles, Jamboree Playground Tiles and Puzzle-Lock Rubber Interlocking Mats, which she presented to her CAO to make the final decision.

While the Sterling Roof Top Tiles were more expensive than the rest of the options, she and her CAO felt the benefits outweighed the difference in price. What most impressed Melanie was the fact that the tiles were well made, dense, thick and had excellent drainage. They also wouldn't fade, freeze or curl under the stresses of full sun exposure, extreme temperatures or snow that is so common in the area. To top it off, the tile comes with a 10 year limited warranty.

Once the tiles were ordered, Jews for Jesus, hired a local handyman and his partner to install the flooring, which took them two days to complete the project. Melanie's opinion of the product after installation only got better.

“I was surprised at how beautiful it looked!” Melanie said. “Even though the pictures on the website are nice, the real thing was more beautiful. … To see and walk on the entire deck of them was impressive.”

The newly resurfaced space is used as a deck/patio for a pair of apartments above an office.

 “People are always coming and going and we have events on the deck,” Melanie added. “The seams fit tightly together. It's very, very durable. It's comfortable to walk on. And we have the confidence that the roofing membrane underneath is fully protected.”