Architect Flooring | Harlequin Floors

What are the best floors for your needs?

Most architect's will contact Harlequin Floors because their client has specified a Harlequin floor for their project or they've heard about Harlequin due to its outstanding reputation within the dance and performing arts communities.


BIM Library

DIN standard test 18032-2
Summary: tests of shock absorption, vertical deformation, area deflection and behaviour under rolling load, described under DIN 18032, were carried out on Harlequin sprung floors by the Centre for Sports Technology Ltd, in London. DIN 18032-2 is the German standard for floor requirements for sports halls.

Outline descriptions of the methods are given below:

3.1 Force reduction (shock absorption)
The ‘Force Reduction’ test measures the degree by which the floor reduces the impact force which occurs when an athlete, or dancer, lands on it. The test was devised to simulate the forces observed when a runner’s heel strikes the ground. The apparatus consists of a 20kg mass which is allowed to fall onto a stiff spring resting on the floor. The force which results from the impact depends on the relative stiffness of the floor to that of the spring. The test is carried out on a concrete floor as well as on the floor under test and the result quoted is the amount by which the force measured on the test floor is lower than the force measured on concrete.

3.2 Vertical deflection
In the ‘Vertical Deflection’ test, the amount by which the floor deflects under impact load is measured directly. The test is similar in principle to the force reduction test, however, a softer spring is used and the drop height is adjusted so that the peak force produced falls within a certain range.

3.3 Area deflection
Area Deflection is measured using a modification of the vertical deflection apparatus. Instead of measuring the deflection at the point at which the test force is applied, it is measured 500mm away. The purpose of the test is to ensure that one athlete or dancer standing on the floor will not be excessively disturbed by the movements of another nearby.

3.4 Resistance to a rolling load
The ‘Rolling Load Resistance’ test is carried out on two structurally critical areas of the floor. A steel wheel, whose width, diameter and corner radii are defined, is loaded to 1500N and is rolled repeatedly over the surface of each area. After 300 passes, the floor is examined for damage.

Our Floor Selector Guide is a great tool if you're unsure as to what's best for your needs. We would always recommend a Harlequin sprung floor is installed, along with the most appropriate Harlequin vinyl floor as a surface finish.

How Harlequin are supporting this sector


Educating architects - Why dance floors are different to sports floors

It is a common assumption that a well-designed sports floor will suit the needs of dancers, but there are two intrinsic differences: the construction of the sprung sub-floor and the performance surface.

The sprung sub-floor
Along with some shock absorption, most indoor sports require a high degree of energy return and a requirement for adequate ball bounce. Evidently, dancers have scant interest in ball bounce, but they are vitally focussed in a different way on a combination of shock absorption and energy return. There are no hard and fast rules, but it is clear that female dancers tend towards shock absorption – without any ‘sponginess’ – whereas the men appreciate a dance floor with more 'spring' for their often more energetic choreography. Indoor sports people can tolerate a stiffer floor as they usually have cushioned footwear – a luxury barred to dancers.

The performance surface
Here the main criterion for dancers is slip-resistance, disconcertingly dubbed "traction" by many in the dance community. Although sports people share the abhorrence of the risk of slipping and falling, they again are generally protected by their footwear from floors that might be considered a slip hazard for dancers, for example some hard-lacquered wood floors. Lower limb problems such as tendonitis, ‘shin splints’, knee pain and ankle strain can all be attributed to incorrectly specified sprung floors and can take several weeks of physiotherapy and recovery time to correct.

A word about wood finishes
Historically the choice was between a wooden floor and linoleum, until the advent of purpose developed vinyl floors during the 1970s. Although it may be tempting to opt for a wood floor for purely aesthetic reasons, or a commercial grade vinyl for reasons of cost, today there are many options specifically designed for dance. A well-installed hardwood sprung floor, properly finished and maintained, does look attractive, and specifically for ballroom dance is a desirable option.

Softwood floors are rarely an option because even with a lacquered surface they are too readily susceptible to damage, gouging and splintering. However, with correct preparation and sealing, softwood floors can indeed provide a very acceptable sub-floor on which to install a Harlequin vinyl floor.

Interesting facts

  • Poor specifications are the underlying cause for over 25% of architects' PI insurance claims, with failure to enforce specifications responsible for much of the rest (e.g. workmanship, supervision & inspection). RIBA Journal.
  • Research studies in recent years have shown that a suitable sprung floor can reduce the high level of injuries experienced by dancers and also extend their careers. Read more here.


Case Study - Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London
Case study - University of the Arts London
Guide for Architects
Guide to Dance Floors
Harlequin Activity sprung floor brochure
Harlequin Liberty® sprung floor brochure
Harlequin News - 2015
Harlequin Rocksure specification sheet
Harlequin WoodSpring sprung floor brochure
Specifying Dance Floors - Full White Paper
Stage floor building and refurbishment
Stage floor construction and technical solutions
Why sports floors are NOT suited to dance

Still unsure?

If you would like further information, FREE samples, a quote or just wish to discuss your requirements in more detail then feel free to contact our experienced sales team. They've worked on a wide range of projects and can advise on the best floors for your needs, along with accessories and aftercare.