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Stage floor problems

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by MusicNinja610, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. Apmccandless

    Apmccandless Member

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    As to color I thought that the darker was tempered and the lighter was untempered. Someone earlier mentioned double tempered. What does that mean? Was it run through hot oil twice? Does that help?
    In my many adventures in flooring I have found that the darker the tempered flooring the better restistance to wear and tear. There is one brand available at some Lowe's or Menards in St Louis (each branch in town has a different lumber supplier so selection and brand of lumber varies by store) that has radiused corners. It is 3/16" thick and smooth both sides. I have used this indoors and out and had very good luck with paint adhesion and I don't recall this ever having an issue where tape ripped up the flooring. On the other side of the issue Eucaboard brand has been an issue several times when I have used it for flooring. I don't know if it is a different Tempering process or if the screen back somehow allows moisture in that the smooth back does not. I have had it tear when I removed the gaff tape I used to hold the sheets together. In my experience I would agree that you are suffering a material issue not a paint issue.
     
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  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Apmccandless "Someone earlier mentioned double tempered. What does that mean?" I @RonHebbard believe you're referring to my post where I recall explaining suppliers in my area refer to Meso' which has been tempered on both sides as "Double tempered".
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  3. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    From woodworkers journal
    "How do I tell regular hardboard (Masonite) from tempered hardboard, and what are the differences between the two?
    Timothy Knight:
    Hardboard is a generic term for a panel manufactured from cellulose fibers pressed together under extreme pressure and heat to a density of at least 31 lbs per cubic foot. The natural lignin in the wood fibers acts as the bonding agent. The wet process using steam originated from the original patent of William H. Mason in 1926 and 1928. Most all hardboard today is manufactured using the “Mason” process, although hardboard made by the Masonite Company itself is sold under the trade name “Duron”. Tempered hardboard adds an additional step of coating the hardboard with a thin film of linseed oil and baking the board to give more water and impact resistance, hardness, rigidity and tensile strength. Tempered hardboard is used almost exclusively in construction siding. The manufacturer should be able to tell you if their particular hardboard is tempered or not.
    Carol Reed: Visually, tempered hardboard is much darker, due to the oil."

    Ive heard the term double tempered but sense it might be marketing hype.

    Whether its screened on one side or not (smooth one or both sides) seems to be a factor of wet (screened) or dry (smooth both sides) processes. I have seen screened side used for "fine art" paintings.
     
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  4. MusicNinja610

    MusicNinja610 Member

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    It's lighter. I'm believing more and more that it's un tempered. Which I imagine is why I'm having this problem.
     
  5. teqniqal

    teqniqal Active Member

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    You get what you pay for. Attached is the information you need to have to select and order tempered hardboard. This defines what you are looking for in properties. The Big Box stores all carry the worst possible grade (Class 5) by default. You have to special order anything better. You have to verify it upon receipt (don't trust them to ship the right thing). 1/4" Sierra Pine Medite II or Medex products seem to be good products and are orderable (albeit, with some lead-time) - they are in the range of Class 1 & Class 2. I consider it a modern day replacement for the Masonite Duron WR, which, at one time, was used on many professional stages. Investing in a good quality top layer is prudent, if properly maintained it can last twenty or more years. What damages a good quality floor material is moisture (from leaking roofs or wet paint -- damp mopping should not affect it) and impatient techs that try to drive nails or staples into it in lieu of using sand/shot weight bags or improved stage screws to secure scenery. Teach people how to properly anchor things to the floor and your floor will last longer. Charge them for it if they do it wrong. And charge them twice as much as the last time if they repeat it, etc. Eventually, they will learn.

    As to the floor finish, I find that the Madison Chemical Company Gemthane STC (Stage Top Coat) with their recommended Gemthane MG-201 Sealer primer makes for a very tough finish that won't peel off the face of the hardboard. If properly maintained the finish can last five-to-ten years.

    The constant repainting of the floors is typically due to people painting directly on the stage floor in lieu of installing a scenic drop cloth and painting it instead. Yes, the drop cloth takes time (Labor + Materials = Money), but it saves having to constantly refinish the floor, or worse, replace the floor. Discourage anyone from painting on the floor. Charge them (a lot) for it if they do. And charge them twice as much as the last time if they repeat it, etc. Eventually, they will learn.

    Oh yeah, don't forget about user's that want to tap dance on your floor. One answer: NO. Insist that they lay-down a protective layer of dance vinyl (Rosco, Harlequin, etc.) or additional tempered hardboard. If you want to damp the clackity-clack sound, then the cheap Big Box store hardboard will do nicely (as it flakes apart). If you want a brighter, crisper sound, then the harder (ANSI Class 1 or 2 ) hardboard may be more appropriate. A 1/8" layer that is temporarily secured with gaffer's tape will suffice to protect your floor from tap shoes.

    Glitter can be a problem, too. It can get stuck / embedded in the cheaper (softer) hardboards and cheaper (softer) paints (two good reasons to use harder hardboard and better paint). First answer is: NO GLITTER! Back-up plan (should it be introduced onto your stage): Is to clean it up immediately (and charge them heavily for the clean-up), being sure to vacuum-up as much as possible (maybe even Q-Tip swab the cracks and screw heads). The longer it stays around, the more it gets crushed into the surface and tracked around your theatre. Don't forget to clean the lights, battens, and soft goods if the glitter got tossed upwards, otherwise it will migrate back to the floor and 're-infect' it.

    Speaking of infection, a clean stage that has been regularly damp-mopped is a healthier stage. Keeping the stage free of tiny granules of grit and dirt (and the occasional glass shards, staples, tacks, and wood shavings / sawdust) will keep the floor finish from becoming marred and scarred. As dancers perform, they sweat and in many performances they leave sweat beads all across your floor. If they are doing modern dance they may be sliding or rolling on the floor surface. They both deposit contaminants and pick-up skin diseases and bacteria left by others. During dance shows frequently damp-mop with disinfectant to keep the floor clear of debris, germs, and possibly blood (nicked skin, unexpected bloody noses, etc.);and then immediately dry-mop it to keep from being slippery. A good quality floor surface will make this an easier task. A spongy porous floor will just be a breeding ground for biological contaminants.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
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  6. Allana

    Allana Member

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    We definitely had this problem with our hardboard floor. After 3 years of bickering between installers, they decided ultimately that hardboard was simply the wrong floor for the job. The major points of failure where high traffic zones that took plenty of 1-ton road cases rolling across them. The weight caused the hardboard layers to crack apart from each other below the surface of the paint and no matter the manufacturer, nothing can be done with that.

    Paint was also a point of failure, especially when it came to gaff tape. The oil-based paint/primer that was speced for the renovation is more than $100 per gallon but only sold in California (by the pallet). It's dry within 24 hours but recommends 2 weeks of absolutely no-use to properly cure (and something like 5 coats; 2 prime + 3 black). A sealer was not speced as it was supposedly built into the paint. Try as we might, we were unable to find a time in our roadhouse schedule to accommodate the wait time on that paint job and it seems likely we would similarly not be able to find that time every-other year when it would need it.
     
  7. AVerderyAerialRigging

    AVerderyAerialRigging Member

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    Waaaaay back when I was the Head Carp for the NYC run of BatBoy the Musical we had the same exact problem. I don't think that the core cause is cheap hardboard as we used pretty high end tempered Masonite on our deck and we still wound up with a really attractive patch of exposed brown fiber as more of the temper peeled up every night. Until management coughed up the money to replace the sheets in the area, the solution was for me to go out before the show overnight with a can of black spray paint. It looked awesome. Anyways, this is exactly what caused the problem: rather than pay for 'fancy-dancy scenic artists' (GM's exact words), she let the Assoc Set Designer do it with one of his friends. So don't ever do that!

    Seriously though, they applied 2 coats of black and 1 coat of sealer, but failed to wait long enough in between the coats for the paint to fully dry, thusly when the paint and the sealer so-mingled (that's what they call it these days, right?) they penetrated the poor hardboard right through the protective sheath of the temper. And that's how peeley patches are made, boys and girls.


     
  8. teqniqal

    teqniqal Active Member

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    " The major points of failure where high traffic zones that took plenty of 1-ton road cases rolling across them. The weight caused the hardboard layers to crack apart from each other below the surface of the paint and no matter the manufacturer, nothing can be done with that."

    I encourage you to re-read the attachment to my prior post. The high-grade tempered hardboard is pretty-much indestructible and fairly water impervious. I suspect that you may be confusing 'manufacturer's brand' with 'manufacturer's product'. Most companies make a cheap (low quality) version for those that don't understand the implications of using poor quality products (obviously, you have experienced the down-side of this choice), and higher quality products for those that have demanding requirements (longevity, load capacity, moisture resistance, etc.). When Masonite Corp made 'masonite', it was available in many different grades. The cheap flake-apart type was the most common, but they also made 'Duron WR' which was used in places like Radio City Music Hall. Your comment about the hardboard cracking apart below the surface pretty much describes the lowest grade tempered hardboard you can buy. The dense stuff, Class 1 & Class 2, is so hard that you can bend a nail if you try to drive it into it (please don't!). This is what you need to deflect the point loads of heavy road cases and scenery rolling on casters. Contact Sierra Pine and have them send you some samples of their Medite II for evaluation.

    That said, the sub-floor decking (typically 2-3 layers of 3/4" plywood) below the sacrificial top sheets (the Class 1 or Class 2 tempered hardboard) must be arranged so that the joints (edge-to-edge seams) on each layer are not coincident to the joints of the layers above or below them. This distributes the shear forces from allowing them to all happen at a common joint. You have to offset the joints layer-to-layer about 8-12". This offset should account for multiple layers so you don't end-up with the joints of layer #1 and #3 being coincident, too. A sprung stage floor should 'give' monolithically, not just at local point loads.

    Also, note that I referred the top floor sheathing layer as 'sacrificial'. Replacing an entire stage floor, substructure and all, can be very expensive and with the exception of severe water damage (sustained immersion due to standing water after a flood) or fire, most stage floor substructures are fairly durable (well, unless someone used chip-board, or particle board; or if you get a termite infestation) and it is only the top layer of tempered hardboard that needs to be replaced occasionally. So the top layer is 'sacrificed' to protect the softer wood layers underneath it from the abuse we call 'theater'. I typically specify 1/4" thick material as a good substructure will support this without cracking or other deformations. If your sub floor is softer or more flexible (some basket-weave subfloors are very cushy), you may need a thicker material (or a replacement of some of the sub-floor, too). I know some other consultants that specify the 1" thick materials 'to be sure it doesn't fail', but IMHO, I think that sort of defeats the purpose of the 'sacrificial' layer. That 1" thick stuff is veeeeery expensive. The subfloor should bear the load, the top sacrificial layer is to bear the point loads.

    "After 3 years of bickering between installers, they decided ultimately that hardboard was simply the wrong floor for the job." It sounds like the wrong people were installing it (and maybe the particular hardboard was the incorrect type), but someone gave the installer the authority to make an uninformed decision. It would be interesting to see the original drawings and specifications for the floor to see if the design was problematic, or if it was the installers that compromised the final installation. Just like everything else in the theatre, a good spec can be misinterpreted and no one catches it until it is too late. I have walked onto many construction sites and seen the 'el cheepo™' flake-apart generic 'masonite' from the big box store being installed in lieu of the specified flooring product. The flooring contractor seemed to think that once it was painted black that no-one would be the wiser . . . well, until I showed-up. They got to eat the cost of installing and painting the floor TWICE, and were penalized for delaying the project. Sadly, I find too may Architects or Building Owners that don't have the spine to stand-up to a contractor when they blatantly disregard the specifications, so they get walked all over like a cheap rug. As their consultant, all I can due is advise them of the transgression - it's up to them to do something about it.
     
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  9. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    For some of the issues noted, I only specify plyron, which is made with a good grade of hardboard. I have no record of failure of the hardboard.
     
  10. teqniqal

    teqniqal Active Member

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    I just learned that Madison Chemical was bought-out by another company and they have discontinued Gemthane STC. (Sadness . . .)

    I have been researching other paints, so the back-up plan is to recommend Sherwin Williams ArmorSeal 8100 Epoxy Floor Coating in the color 'SW 2936 Black Emerald', satin finish (not 'gloss' finish). This is a two-part epoxy with a low sheen look.
     
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  11. MusicNinja610

    MusicNinja610 Member

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    Hey man, this was a hell of an essay! Thanks for all the info. I appreciate it, especially the Hardboard grading attachment. I didn't realize there were so many variations in grade. Have a good one!
     
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  12. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I talked to another consultant today and they been seeing this problem increasing - inter layer failure - and they finally reached the tech departments of some hardboard manufacturers. Due to EPA rulings, the process for manufacturing hardboard has changed, or specifically the process that resulted in a high modulus of rupture has been banned. This is just in the past year or two. The growing concensus is that this issue will not improve soon.
     
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  13. Rose Steele

    Rose Steele Member

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    I also spoke to some manufacturers, and was told the change in manufacturing took effect in 2010, so I fear that's not the answer. Research indicates that requiring "tempering" is not enough. It needs to be tempered to Class I standard, i.e. oil-tempered, not just heat tempered. I wasn't told about any newer changes in allowable procedures. I also found out that most lumber manufacturers don't actually make hardboard; they all seem to buy it from DPI (Decorative Panels Inc), so it's all the same product anyway. I'm told that DPI still has two classes of tempering "service tempering" and class I or oil tempering. Further research needs to be done.
     
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  14. teqniqal

    teqniqal Active Member

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    UPDATE: SierraPine was purchased by Roseburg Forestry Products. The product names are the same, so if searching for information and samples, look for Roseburg Medite II, not SierraPine Medite II.

    Alternate products to look at are: Hutton Forest Products 'West Pine Ranger Premium Plus' and Weyerhaeuser (formerly Plum Creek) 'Super-Refined MDF2'.
     
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