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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  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

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  7. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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  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!
     
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  10. JHAYTER

    JHAYTER Member

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

    Colin Well-Known 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

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    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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  15. JHAYTER

    JHAYTER Member

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    Will do spenser. Just started the ball rolling on this purchase today...I'll keep you all posted with progress, however because of our busy performance schedule and lead time on the product we may not see it until december....Brrrr I got cold just thinking about that!
     
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  16. Allana

    Allana Member

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    So 6 months after we installed stagelam, I have some observations and pictures.

    • Some sheets are a different color than others. (See photo)
    • We don't have problems with the corners not lining up (being too tall for dancers). We had issues with the subfloor before we put this in so part of the install was leveling the crap out of the subfloor before the lam was laid. Then bad corners were addressed after the fact before we signed off on it.
    • Easier to scratch than I originally thought but still much improved from meso. (see photo) Very hard to dent. These scratches are permanent as others mentioned above because, although black, it does have a different shine than original. Painting it doesn't seem like a good option. Scratches are invisible from any reasonable audience distance though.
    • We haven't noticed the slippery problem but that doesn't mean it's not real. It's really nice that liquid doesn't soak in/stain.
    • We haven't had to drill into it yet (it came pre-drilled). Not looking forward to it.
    • Tape and sticky residue comes right up! Even if someone unleashes their duct tape on your space.
    Things I definitely didn't expect:
    • It reflects yellow light! Pale flesh looks like its suffering from a mild case of jaundice, just enough that most people wouldn't notice but it drives me (the lighting sup) crazy. I dropped some L202 in the side washes and now it's only distracting.
    • It has a chemical reaction to very diluted isopropyl alcohol. We couldn't track down what the burning plastic smell was just before house open until it happened again the next night when mopping.
     

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  17. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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  18. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    Some questions, since you detailed everything so well...

    Do you usually add some alcohol to your mop water or was this from some messy first aid?
    Does the yellow light reflection only happen with actual yellow light, or any color you hit it with that has yellow in it, only the yellow reflects?
    Are the scratches from load-in/out or from every day casters rolling weird?
     
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  19. Allana

    Allana Member

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    Hi @macsound . Answers below:

    We usually add alcohol in mop water for mopping marley. We don't lay marley in the wings but we usually mop the wings while we have the mop out anyway.
    All of my lights are incandescent. I don't notice the yellowish light when gel is added. Most of the shows we do require a no color wash so that's really what I pay attention to/ I'm not super particular about color matching for lectern-style shows.
    The scratches are from everyday wear. For instance, the flag stands we have scratch it if you drag and flowers in baskets will scratch it too. They aren't deep scratches but things don't have to be particularly heavy to make a color/texture shift.
     
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  20. Moonthink

    Moonthink Member

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    This thread is an interesting read...

    5 years ago I decided to replace our maso sacrificial floor (that had been in there 10-12 years prior). We're not a roadhouse but a self-producing theater, so our floor gets painted a lot. I had a hard time at that point even finding 1/4" tempered hardboard that was smooth on both sides so that it could be flipped if necessary, and also because the smooth finish seems more moisture resistant.

    I'm now having a lot of the same issues others have described here, separation between layers, etc. So I am starting to explore other options...

    Stagelam doesn't seem like a good option for our space, but might be good for a roadhouse type or events space.

    Plyron doesn't seem like the answer to me either -- too thick, too expensive, hard to find for me locally.

    Several of the professional theaters in my area have made the switch in the last 10-15 years from maso/duron type products to 1/4" MDF. Now I've never used MDF as flooring myself, and my gut feeling is that it would not do well with moisture at all. Our theater goes from 20% humidity in the winter to 80% in the summer (non-condenser AC), which tends to make make floor sheeting warp and bubble. But local guys in these other theaters swear by it.

    Even though I was very careful when I installed the replacement hardboard sheets -- I laid them out in the space for a week, painted one side, let it sit for another week, flipped and painted the other side, waited a week again before using screws every 2' grid. I probably needed to leave a little more space between them. I didn't leave 1/16" but I thought I had left enough. After 5 years gaps are gone though and some buckling or difficulty removing old pieces due to expansion.

    Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had experience using moisture resistant 1/4" MDF as sacrificial flooring? I want some product that takes paint well, is readily obtainable and not super expensive so that if a piece gets damage, you just pull that one out and replace. With the hardboard, I was able to flip a few to get a little more life out of them.
     
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