By Brett Hart
After years of battling the cleaning, repair and hazards of a ceramic tile floor in its pool, spa and locker room areas, the Unity School District, located in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, decided to try something new in the Fall of 2016 – and couldn’t be happier with the results.
”You could never clean it and get it scrubbed,” said Jeffery Allen who has been in charge of pool maintenance since 2010. He noted that he was constantly fighting calcium buildup and patching chunks that were coming out of the floor.
Unity School District New Pool Deck Floor with Steve “Dewey” Strilzuk
The main issue, however, was safety, according to Maintenance and Operations Director Steve ”Dewey” Strilzuk.
”Little kids, of course, are always running around by pools and… the (stainless steel) edges we had were a concern,” Strilzuk said. ”The fall factor was big.”
Laurie Paulson, who has been the pool manager at the Unity School District swimming pool for the last 15 years, estimated dealing with 5 to 10 slips or falls daily as a result of the hard, slippery tile floor.
”Maybe not severe, but enough to bonk their head or be uncomfortable,” Paulsen said. ”We have a lot of senior adults as well. It was really slippery, and they had trouble walking on the floor.”
Ceramic Pool Tile before Installation of Life Floor
Installation of Life Floor Super Grip Ripples Tiles
After being presented with the option of Life Floor Super Grip Ripple Tiles from Greatmats, the board of education and superintendent liked the safety features of the foam/rubber blended tiles, including slip resistance and cushion.
”They were going to retile, but when the price tag came through, this took precedent,” Allen said. ”Plus, the down time was a lot less. They had this done in a week and a half.”
”We have a lot of community members and a lot of lake home owners who come into this area that use our facility,” Strilzuk said. ”It’s used 24-7, from about 5:30 in the morning until 8:30 at night almost every day. … We want to make sure we make it safe for everyone. … With the cushion and traction that we’ve got with this floor, I think we made a great decision.”
Greatmats Life Floor Super Grip Tiles Installed at Unity School
”The appearance is awesome,” he added. ”(Pool users) really really like the edges of the pool and the (rubber and vinyl) edges of the wading pool. … With the tile and the stainless edge, that really wasn’t a good combination. I used to bring my kid here all the time and the biggest concern was the edge of the pool and wading pool had very sharp edges and when I even think about the kids slipping and falling, going into the pools as they would, hitting their heads on that was a major concern.”
”The kids are not getting hurt anymore,” Paulsen said. ”The accidents have been cut by 90 percent. It’s better than the expectations. This floor is amazing.”
Paulsen added that as a lifeguard and swimming instructor, she often works 11 hour days and the comfort factor of the Life Floor pool decking has made her life much easier.
”My legs are just as comfortable as early in the morning,” Paulsen said. ”Where before my back would hurt, my legs would hurt. It was very miserable.”
Her students love the new flooring for a totally different reason.
”When you do swim lessons, we have the kids sit and the floor, and before they were grossed out. Now they don’t mind sitting on the floor or doing demonstrations on the floor.”
”The public loves it,” she added. ”From toddlers crawling around to senior citizens. We have special needs people, along with the students. Everyones loves it. .. Now, (the seniors) come out and they’re so secure and feel really safe. It was a great investment – great product for our pool.”
Since the daily cleaning this grippy foam/rubber flooring is very different than cleaning ceramic tiles, the district purchased a new stand-on floor scrubber for the large areas and a smaller machine for tighter spaces, such as the locker rooms and bathrooms which now feature Life Floor Slate Tiles.
”I’ve been coming here for years with my son, even before I started working here, and we love using this pool,” Strilzuk said. ”Thank you to the board. This is huge for the community and the safety of all families.”
Installation of Greatmats Life Floor Slate Tiles in Locker Room