Nothing can make or break an agility facility like flooring. Assuming sufficient space, a site that offers footing with excellent traction and shock absorption will be sought after for training and trialing. But proper flooring can be very expensive, and choosing the wrong one can be a costly mistake.
In 2005, Clean Run contacted manufacturers of some popular agility flooring products and compiled the information so that readers could use it as a starting point for their search for the perfect indoor flooring. Now we’ve updated the article from the November 2005 issue and we’re presenting the information here.
NOTE: Costs quoted here are based on a 60' by 80' area; shipping is not included.
AgiliFlex Dog Mats
Although Group Summit offers several dog facility flooring options, including AgiliFlex Plus and Alphatrax (featured in our 2005 article), AgiliFlex™ is the product the company recommends for use in agility facilities. These tiles are made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), a polymer used in the soles of high-end athletic shoes. It has closed-cell construction to block absorption of moisture and four interlocking sides to further prevent leakage to the subfloor. Each tile is reversible to extend floor life. It is only available in blue, although custom colors are available for facilities with more than 3,000 square feet.
Contact: Summit Flexible Products, 820 Crater Lake Ave, Ste 208, Medford, Oregon, 97504; customers call 1-800-782-5628, all others 1-541-773-4353 (ask for Janet). www.groupsummit.com.
Cost: Suggested retail is $38.01 per each 39.4" x 39.4" x 11/16" thick tile. Call for specials.
Installation costs: Can be self-installed without significant cost.
Installation requirements: A utility knife with replacement blades, a piece of chalk, a tape measure, and a straight edge.
Warranty: 3 years
Weight: 6.5 lbs. per tile.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Clean Agiliflex floors as you would your bathroom or kitchen floors. Use any standard household cleaners and clean it about once a week.
Paul Anderson, from Leader of the Pack Canine LLC in Minnesota, says: “We installed Agiliflex tiles in November of 2005. Group Summit was very helpful sending samples we could look at and test. Our floor is 50' x 50' and it took a crew of friends about three hours to put down including some pre-mopping and sweeping. The tiles lock together easily and stayed together. Other than a few chewed edges and claw marks, the tiles show very little wear. It has held up extremely well and still looks good even with all the abuse it has taken.
The flooring is very easy to clean and stands up well to cleaning. We use bleach water with a mop for accidents with no side effect from the bleach. We vacuum the flooring weekly with a canister vacuum; hairs come clean without sticking. Every so often we do a complete cleaning of the floor with a bleach mix in a sprayer. The floor is scrubbed with brushes to get up any stains and then vacuumed after drying. It is a very easy floor to maintain even with the abuse of puppy pees and poops.
As far was using it for agility, the traction is superb for the dogs, sometimes too good for handlers with new shoes.
I would definitely buy this flooring again. The flooring has held up, the over-all price was good, excellent customer service, installation is easy, and it has saved people from injuries from falls.”
Fran Seibert, co-founder of Jazz Agility Training in Greenfield Center, New York: “We are using Agiliflex flooring and love it!”
Jane Cardillo, who has had AgiliFlex in her basement for over a year: “I use the space for agility practice and daily play sessions with our 46-lb., 6-year-old Aussie since our house does not have a yard. It has good traction, very little slipping/sliding even when doing very hard, sharp stops and turns playing fetch and frisbee. It has very tight seams—the tiles do not come apart at all—even with the hard stops/turns. It does not absorb water and is easy to clean up spills. It was simple to install, very light weight, and cuts easily with a utility knife.”
Cardillo did see some negatives with Agiliflex: a strong smell when first installed (which may have been because of the small space in which she is using it), the texture of the tiles “shedded” when new, leaving flecks on her dogs paws for months, that same texture encourages a collection of fur, and it does get gouged by dog nails.
Angelica Steinker, owner of Courteous K9 Dog School in Lutz, Florida: “I like it. It is holding up well. It isn’t kryptonite in the sense that if a dog continuously scratches at one spot it will eventually tear, but I really like it. I would recommend it.”
Crown Matting Comfort King Supreme
Comfort King was developed for the commercial anti-fatigue market and has crossed over to the indoor agility facility market with great success. Since it was designed with cashiers and production line workers in mind, it reduces the amount of strain on human (and presumably canine) feet, ankles, legs, and back. Crown’s Comfort King patented Zedlan foam offers three times as much “bounce” as traditional foam and rubber products. It comes in 3/8" and 1/2" thickness, and agility facilities seem to be using the thicker mats with success. The 60' rolls come in 2', 3', 4' and 6' widths. The widest product is not recommended due to its weight; 3' and 4' widths are the most popular sellers for dog facility use. The product comes in black, grey, and royal blue.
According to company literature, “Dogs training full-time on Comfort King performed equally well outdoors on grass.” With some other products, “dogs had to adjust their takeoff position to prevent themselves from sliding and had difficulty making the transition when competing outside on grass,” the company states. It is also recommended as an excellent flooring for flyball. Clean Run has this product in its facility.
Comfort King Supreme is not designed to withstand the dragging of heavy equipment or other objects. Doing so may cut or rip the product. This matting performs best at a temperature of 63° or higher. Colder temperatures may cause the matting to become less slip resistant and it may shrink. Dog nails need to be kept trimmed to avoid potential cuts, tears, and possible injury to the dog.
Tuff-Spun was Crown’s main agility facility product for years but its composition has evolved and it is now recommended for obedience facilities only. Comfort King will last three times longer than the current Tuff-Spun product.
Contact: Crown Mats and Matting, A Division of Ludlow Composites Corporation, 2100 Commerce Drive, Fremont, Ohio, 43420; 800-628-5463; www.crown-mats.com.
Cost: 3/8" mats range from $1.80-$1.96/sq ft and 1/2" mats range from $2.51-$2.73/sq ft, depending on number of rolls ordered.
Installation costs: Can be self-installed without significant cost. Crown Mats provides detailed installation information.
Installation requirements: Space and time must allow for the product to sit for 3-5 days so it can acclimate before installation; then it should be unrolled and allowed to sit, rolled out, for an additional 3 days so it can relax and reform to its natural form.
The matting is designed to be free floating, and Crown does not recommend or warrant the gluing down of the product. Double-sided tape may be used on the underside of the product to help hold it in place, or on the top surface to help cover seams. If there are no walls surrounding the area to be covered with matting, some type of frame should be used to keep the matting from shifting.
The mats have beveled edges. You can install the mats with the beveled edges side by side, you can overlap the beveled edges, or you can trip off the beveled edges.
Cut matting with a straight edge utility knife. Place extra matting under the corners of contact obstacles and other heavy equipment to help reduce damage to the top surface.
Warranty: 1-year warranty against defects in material and workmanship when maintained as specified.
Weight: 1/2" x 3' rolls weigh 174 lbs. each and 1/2" x 4' rolls weigh 218 lbs. each.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Use a non-abrasive, neutral pH cleaner or mild soap with warm water. Use a damp mop for cleaning, and commercial-grade brooms to remove debris. Urine should be wiped up immediately with a neutral pH cleaner or mild soap using a damp towel or mop. Use of rotary scrubbers, industrial-grade vacuums, or other mechanical cleaners or scrubbers may damage the product and will void the warranty. Allow the matting to dry completely after dampening it before permitting foot traffic to resume.
Removing debris beneath the matting regularly will reduce premature wear. Regular maintenance is crucial.
Lisa Barrett, instructor at The Dog School in Williston, Vermont: “Although our space is small, we are able to teach beginner classes, jumping skills, and challenging sequences because the flooring is so good. The dogs get great purchase, and the matting provides wonderful shock absorption. Dogs never ever slip on this matting. We are really happy with this floor and can keep it clean with a regular vacuum cleaner. We can easily roll our wheeled A-frame around on it.
I am really surprised that 1/2" matting can be so cushioned and provide so much traction for our dogs. My one concern is that I’m not sure how well it will hold up over time. We have been using it for just two years now.
Can you tell I love this flooring?”
Cassie Compton-Schmidt, co-owner of an indoor training facility in Kansas City: “We have a training facility in Kansas City with Comfort King. We have had it for two years and it is holding up well. We installed it ourselves with tape provided by Crown Matting and did not remove the bevels. We have never had an issue with the bevels. We use a leaf blower to clean up hair, and don’t really do much maintenance beyond that. Fast dogs do not seem to have any problems with footing. We had one competitor tell us it was more comfortable than her bed.”
Monica Percival, owner of Clean Run Productions, LLC in South Hadley, Massachusetts: “We spent almost a year researching various flooring options for our 50' x 100' training area. Artificial turf was not an option because there were no drains in the room and no way of cleaning the 'grass' if there were accidents. So we turned to mats. There were a lot of solutions that we found to be "cushy" on the handler, but not for the dog. We wanted there to be give for landing jumps safely and without slippage, we wanted traction for turns and take-offs, and we wanted a surface that didn't require our dogs to alter their jumping style significantly from what was required on the grass fields we see on weekends.
We purchased the 1/2" thick x 6' wide mats because we wanted as few seams as possible. We also wanted the weight to help discourage the mats from shifting. We had professional carpet installers trim off the bevels and do the installation.
We've had the matting for almost 3 years now and we still love it. Many dogs have visited here to work that have burned pads and slid on surfaces in other training centers, and they've had no problem here. Seminar leaders have been thrilled. The only drawback I can think of is that handlers have to be careful to pick up their feet when they run. It has excellent traction!
We vacuum the mats every week and then every other week we do a full mop with a solution of water and Simple Green.”
Dog Agility Foam Mats
Unlike many of the flooring products on the market, Dog Agility Foam Mats were designed specifically for agility. These high-density EVA foam interlocking mats have a “felt top” surface texture that provides excellent grip and traction for the dogs, according to the company. The 40" x 40" x 3/4" tiles come in blue, forest green/black (double color), and forest green. Reversible.
Contact: Great Mats, 117 Industrial Avenue, Milltown, Wisconsin, 54858; 877-822-6622; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.greatmats.com.
Cost: Ranges from $17-$19 per tile, depending on the number ordered. Groups ordering more than 100 tiles should check for a discount. Also, specials are sometimes offered; call the company for more information.
Installation costs: Can be self-installed without significant cost.
Installation requirements: Subfloor should simply be clean, hard, and flat. The mats are laid loose on to the floor beneath and no glue or tape should be used. If mats are being fitted in a room from wall to wall, a sharp utility knife and a straight edge will be needed to cut the mats. If the floor will form an island within a larger room, no tools are needed for installation.
Warranty: 1-year limited warranty against manufacturer's defects under normal daily use.
Weight: Approximately 6 lbs. per tile.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Maintenance is simple. Sweep and vacuum as needed (possibly daily). Use Pine Sol and warm water for cleaning.
Lisa Antonini, from Stay and Obey LLC in Stevensville, Michigan: “I love my flooring, the company was great to work with, and the mats were easy to install and fit to my space even though room was not perfectly square. They look great and really brighten up the space. They are wonderful for agility, easy on the dogs’ joints and my knees! They hold up excellent to everyday use and are a breeze when it comes to cleaning up after accidents. I would highly recommend them to anyone and would do so over other flooring options.”
Debb Kirschner, from K9 JYM in Colmar, Pennsylvania: “We put the flooring down in October 2008. The mats look great! All the activity they see and they stand up to it well.
I’ve had folks bring their fastest dogs and turn tight corners at impossible speeds without seeing the dogs lose their footing. And people with sore knees and hips find the surface easy on their joints as well. It seems to provide a firm, yet very resilient working surface.
Care needs to be taken with any of the sharp edges on equipment as heavy sharp edges will cut into the mat surface immediately.”
Dream Turf is a synthetic turf that looks like a grass lawn. The company offers several versions of their product to meet various customer needs, from a lawn for dogs to play on to a backyard putting green. Dream Turf representative John Davidson says, “About half our business is for dog owners, many that just can’t keep a good looking lawn due to the dog’s traffic and urine spots. We have also installed our turf at some commercial kennels as well as condo rooftops in downtown Seattle specifically for dog potty areas. With heavy dog traffic, I would expect a life expectancy anywhere from 7-12 years.”
Contact: 13621 212th Street SE, Snohomish, Washington, 98296; 866-901-TURF (8873), ask for John Davidson; email@example.com, www.dreamturf.com.
Cost: See installation costs.
Installation costs: $3/sq ft to lay subfloor tile drainage system. The turf portion of the install is $7/sq ft so the entire installed system would be $10/sq ft.
Installation requirements: A subfloor drainage system is required, along with pre-existing drains installed in the floor. Without the drainage tile, there would be problems rinsing the turf to keep sanitary. The tiles allow for water and other liquids to travel freely to the drains. Davidson says, “Installers lacking experience may quote a much lower price and then glue the turf directly to the floor; you will not have proper drainage and you will have an unpleasant experience that will be very costly to fix. Our motto is to do the job right the first time.”
Warranty: 7-year warranty on fading.
Weight: Total system weight with tiles, turf, and infill is about 4 lbs/sq ft.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Daily rinsing with water is suggested. When a stronger cleaner is needed, use products like Simple Green to help eliminate any odors or bacteria build-up.
Comments: None available.
FieldTurf is a 100% recyclable artificial grass system made of a polyethylene fibers which are durable yet soft to the touch. The infill is made from graded silica sand and cryogenically frozen and crumbled recycled rubber to provide a noncompactable, resilient, natural-feeling “synthetic earth” to withstand the most demanding environments.
This product is used in some agility facilities and has been installed in many other businesses with high canine traffic. “FieldTurf is a widely used product preferred by kennel masters at key locations including the San Diego Humane Society, Marin County Humane Society, Sea World in San Diego, and the USDA National Canine Detector Training Center at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta,” says Richard Spanjian, President of FieldTurf Greenscapes division.
Contact: FieldTurf, 100 FieldTurf Drive, Peachtree City, Georgia, 30269; 800-364-6541; www.fieldturf.com.
Cost: $9 to $17/sq ft depending on size of installation, access to site, geographic availability of sub-base materials, and other variables.
Installation costs: Included in cost.
Installation requirements: FieldTurf is not a do-it-yourself project; a certified FieldTurf installation crew is needed. This surface can be put asphalt or concrete with most typical installations requiring removal of top 4"-6" of existing soil which is replaced by a compacted crushed stone base to ensure proper stability and drainage. Installation costs include all necessary products.
Installation costs may be increased if there is no opening 6' high by 7' wide and/or if there is a long distance from the point of entry to the point of installation.
Warranty: 8-year manufacturer's warranty for product.
Weight: Not applicable because the product is installed by FieldTurf staff.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Spanjian reports that kennels using FieldTurf typically just need to hose off waste. Some owners have found many cleaners, disinfectants, and deodorizers to be effective, including Simple Green, AlphaZymePlus, KennelSol, Roccal-D, Parvasol II, and most often a simple 10:1 water-to-household-bleach mixture works best. Damage to turf is infrequent since dogs are not drawn to dig through the material. In the rare event that damage is done, it can be repaired by FieldTurf certified contractors/installers.
Lo Baker, from BARK-NH Agility: “We host four USDAA trials a year on FieldTurf. We find that many dogs (including our own) are posting their fastest yards per second on this surface. It is amazing to run on; the dogs don’t slip, and judges love it because their legs and feet don’t get tired. I love the stuff! If we won the lottery and put up a building, I would want FieldTurf for the surface.”
Dee Davidson, who has had FieldTurf in her yard for 18 months: “I love it. I have two large dogs, the yard is fairly small (1000 sq ft) and it looks as good, if not better, today than it did the day it was installed. I live at the beach in southern California, so there is lots of sun and damp weather. I wash it down with a mild solution of Simple Green about every six weeks in the summer when it doesn’t get much rain to wash it off.
The dogs run and play and have excellent traction—in fact, probably better than regular grass because its uniform texture and level.”
Kennel Kolor Tiles and Runners
These mats by Linear Rubber are made of slip resistant, 3/8" thick, nonporous, recycled rubber that is sound resistant and shock absorbing. Although Linear Rubber makes flooring for a wide variety of purposes, the Kennel Kolor products are the ones they recommend for agility facilities. They come in rolled matting in 4' widths up to 250' in length and as interlocking tiles (48" x 48"). The company recommends the long rolls for agility facilities since they have fewer seams. The products come in solid black or with your choice of yellow, green, blue, white, or red colored speckles. Reversible.
Contact: Linear Rubber Products, 5416 46th Street, Kenosha, Wisconsin, 53144; 800-558-4040; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.rubbermats.com.
Cost: Ranges from $2.30-$2.80/sq ft. Price varies based on color, amount being purchased, and other factors. Call for details.
Installation costs: Can be self-installed without significant cost.
Installation requirements: Utility knife, straight knife, and optional indoor glue (available through Linear Rubber). This product can be free-laid.
Warranty: 2 years prorated.
Weight: Less than 2 lbs/sq ft.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Clean the Kennel Kolor floor any other, using light detergent and water; just mop it up. Light disinfectants are also fine and it can even be power washed.
Nita Woulf, owner of Clever K9s in Kaukauna, Wisconsin: “I love it. It has great traction and has good ‘bounce’ factor. You can order it in any type of size, edging, etc. I’ve had mine for almost two years. Half of it is used every day for dog daycare, the other half for training classes.
Both sides look almost brand new; you don’t see any scratch marks or wear. Lots of people with fast dogs are surprised how well the dogs do on the matting. There is very little slippage, although if it is wet, it is slippery.
The only complaints: I ordered mine in rolls with straight edging—the company said the machine-cut edging would butt together almost seamlessly. My rolls of matting were not manufactured completely straight so I do have some small gaps between the edges. I could have had the edging done in puzzle piece, which would have solved that issue. Also, the mats were incredibly heavy to install; I should have paid the extra to have [a] company come and set them up!”
Chas Richardson, owner of A Dog’s Day Out LLC: “We have just purchased Linear Rubber flooring. It will be installed mid-September. While we presently have no working knowledge of their product yet, I can say that this family owned company offers excellent customer service from a team of people who seem to go the extra mile for their clients.”