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Stage Surface Questions

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by JHAYTER, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. JHAYTER

    JHAYTER Member

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    Hi All,

    Looking for your help to gather some information quickly. If you could kindly help me by briefly answering the questions below regarding your venue's stage surface, I will be forever grateful!...(More information about why I am looking for this below the questions)

    - Venue name and location?
    - Stage size?
    - Type of permanent stage surface (Masonite? Permanent linoleum / marley? Hardwood? Other?):
    - Style of venue (roadhouse? producing?)
    - How many shows a year in your venue?
    - How often is it replaced? Painted?
    - Any reoccurring issues?

    The reason I am trying to gather this info is, we resurfaced our stage top a year ago with masonite and have had nothing but issues with tape ripping the tempered side off the floor down to the fibers and now have some issues with bubbling after a minor leak in the roof got a section wet. As many of you know, even top grade masonite is not what it used to be due to changes in the manufacturing processes, which we found out much too late. We have decided to replace the top again, and and we are considering permanent linoleum like Roscoleum by Rosco, which seems to also have some downsides. There doesn't seem to be a perfect solution, but we're hoping to find somthing that will last upwards of 5-10 years with proper maintenance. Thanks again!
     
  2. JohnD

    JohnD Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
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    Portland, Or.
    What John said above. Also, replacing a floor cover once a year would be pretty standard to me, especially if you were moderately busy. No Masonite will hold up well in a leaky roof situation but you are correct there is a LOT of trashy Maso out there now.
     
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  4. JHAYTER

    JHAYTER Member

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    Thanks John & Van. Yes, I've read into this quite a bit...I think at this point we've decided to stay away from hardboard altogether this time...Really just looking to easily compile some data to see what most venues have installed to help us make a choice...Been making some calls and skimming house tech specs as well in other venues...there is a surprising amount of products used out there!
     
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  5. JohnD

    JohnD Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    @JHAYTER Please keep us posted on this, many venues are facing this issue. I personally wish battleship linoleum could make a comeback.
     
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  6. dbaxter

    dbaxter Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I guess I should consider ourselves lucky. I put down masonite over 8 years ago and we're still on it. The perhaps unique situation we have is that the stage floor is at ground level and as such needs to be part of the set design of every show. At 6 or so shows a year, that's about 50 coats of paint. And, yes, it is about 1/8" thick in spots. There has been some puckering at the seams, but a little time with the belt sander takes those down.
    Where we did have issues was during Hands on a Hard Body where the dollies that the truck was on would break through the floor. We had real potholes on stage! <grin>
     
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  7. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
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    I consult on 4-6 theatres a year and they all have a stage floor and almost all are plyron. Few but not zero issues.

    Personally I would not like a sheet floor covering like linoleum because of fastening through it, but you may be able to limit or prohibit fastening.

    Here is a cut and paste from a report (first draft) I'm in midst of writing today (and yesterday and through the weekend) that more or less addresses same issues.

    Stage floor

    Stage floors remain one of the more troublesome and common problem areas, and the Ball Theatre stage seems typical.

    One option is to clear the stage and strip all coverings; repair the original strip wood flooring by filling and perhaps selective replacement; and sand. This should be coated. In your climate, where it can become very humid, either do this in the most humid month having allowed the hardboard to acclimate, or moisten the hardboard by misting with water over several days. Paint all sides - both faces and edges - before installing. Then lay Class 1 Tempered Hardboard, gapping about 1/16", and fastening around the perimeter with nails or screws. Both have pros and cons. Finally topcoat with PPG Breakthrough in Wrought Iron Satin. The weak point of this approach is finding a source for true Class 1 Tempered Hardboard is increasingly difficult, and lesser quality hardboard can pull apart when removing tape.

    Less labor but more costly material and having to contend with more thickness at doors and transitions, use 1/2"or 3/4" plyron, a plywood product with outer veneers of tempered hardboard. Spacing - gaps - not critical. Fasten with FHWS - I prefer square drive for easier removal of paint to remove screw - 16" on center for ½" ( 28 per 4 x 8) and 24" on center for 3/4" (15 per 4 x 8).

    There are other materials than hardboard and paint such as Polyonyx, Stagelam, and Stageboard, but generally very expensive.
     
  8. Allana

    Allana Member

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    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Northrop, University of Minnesota campus
    60'W x 40' D + wings, 2 pits, and upstage storage
    Roadhouse with emphasis in touring dance
    Newly Renovated in 2014. Masonite floor needed replacing within 6-9 months. Problems: tape pulled up paint/top sheets of maso, tesselations from under floor, warping/peeling in response to heavy roadcases (2 ton motors), ugly from so much brown flooring exposed.
    4 years later (as we speak) floor is being replaced with Stagelam (http://www.stagelam.com/) which is 4x8 sheets of 1/4" hard plastic, black all the way through (no painting required).
    We (briefly) tested samples for deflexion under heavy pressure (VERY minimal) and threw stage weights at it to see how easy it was to damage. It was possible but difficult to dent/scratch. The finish is dull black so not black-black but also doesn't reflect as much of the light.

    It's definitely pricey but probably not as pricey as legit hardwood flooring.
    Again, the floor install isn't even done yet, let alone getting to really put it to the test, but so far, I have high hopes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  9. JHAYTER

    JHAYTER Member

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    Thanks for all this information, Allana! Sounds like you were / are in the same situation as us, and I think Stagelam is going to be the answer. Please let me know of any issues or details that come up during the install, I would be very interested to know how it goes. I talked to another theatre in Ontario that had some issues with stagelam being slippery and they recieved batches that were different shades of black so they had to paint it anyway. Curious if anyone else has experienced this. Regardless, it looks like it's the way to go for durability and longevity.

    Thanks again!
     
  10. JHAYTER

    JHAYTER Member

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    Thanks, Bill! Lots to think about here!
     
  11. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    We got Stagelam at my prior job and I can confirm that it can get slippery and also has some color variation. We never painted it and although it claims to be paintable I was a bit skeptical because of how dense and nonporous and slippery it is, almost like a textured UHMW. A successful paint job could probably help the slickness and of course the color issues. Stagelam isn't smooth but has a little texture and that does help, but we found it to be slicker than maso especially with a little sawdust or water - not such a concern that we regretted it, but something to know about.

    Other observations:

    Stagelam is VERY hard, durable and stable as advertised. This can be good and bad.

    We tested sanding some blemishes out in a wing and the black all the way through thing is of limited use because when sanding you change the texture and sheen, so a fresh coat of paint would be nice at that point anyway. Sanding does basically work though if you have spots that don't clean up well with other methods. Lots of stuff that would really muck up a hardboard/MDF floor was easy to wipe, peel or scrape right off though.

    If you want to regularly (or even rarely) screw/drill into your floor, you will regret covering it in Stagelam. Definitely order it pre-drilled for installation. I don't remember if that's standard or by request only. I can't overstate how awful it is to drill.

    The edges of the sheets remain very crisp unlike a softer material that wears smooth at the seams, and since we didn't paint it that didn't help bridge seams either. So, while it looked great on it's own, I found the seams telegraphed through our vinyl dance floor considerably more than a well-prepared hardboard covering does. We did a lot of dance and I didn't hear anything about it from dancers, but it sure seems like a less forgiving surface for dance. I know it was less forgiving on my knees than the fir and hardboard floors I've worked on.

    Overall, for a road house that doesn't allow drilling in the floor I think it is a good choice. I can't imagine ever needing to replace it, so the value is probably pretty good even at the high initial cost.
     
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  12. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I really appreciate all the first hand reports especially on stagelam. I'd been tempted to recommend it but clearly not the perfect no faults stage floor we all wish for.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
  13. JHAYTER

    JHAYTER Member

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    Great information, Colin...Really appreciate this!
     
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  14. spenserh

    spenserh Member

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    Same boat here, our original Maso floor that was installed around 2009 held up until 2016 when we decided to replace it. Since then we have had all the same problems you describe, our paint budget has probably doubled, we used to only have to paint after doing a big production, now we are painting every month or two.

    When your new floor is done, do you mind snapping some close ups? It looks good on the website, but I'd like to see the seams up close.
     
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