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What kind of tape is best for our gym floor?

This question comes up a lot, let’s try and explore some solutions together. 

Many gymnasiums serve different user groups. As an example, a typical High School gym floor will host physical education classes thought-out the school day, basketball or volleyball practice after school and community activities later in the evening. 

Depending on the needs of a particular user group additional game lines or floor markings may be necessary. 

Is it OK to put tape down on the floor just temporarily??

NO!! Unless you are OK with pulling finish off of your gym floor!

This is what the Maple Flooring Manufactures Association says about tape on gym floors: 


MFMA does not recommend the use of masking, construction, electrical, duct or adhesive tape to mark temporary court boundaries on the surface of a finished maple floor.  Most tapes used for temporary markings have a different coefficient of friction than finishes applied to the maple playing surface and can impact a person’s ability to start, stop, and pivot. It is also quite likely that the tape, when removed, will peel away layers of the floor’s surface finish.  Removing the surface paint/finish and exposing the maple can result in additional chipping and peeling of the remaining paint/finish in adjacent areas.
In addition, most commonly available tapes contain adhesive resins that can etch or stain the floor finish or even the maple flooring below the temporary markings. If additional game lines are needed, MFMA would suggest contacting your sport floor contractor about adding those game lines to your floor’s surface.

Sometimes tape can be used and removed without damage to the gym floor. However, damage to the finish should be expected anytime tape is applied to a gym floor. 

Here is a GREAT video by Mr. Jason J. Heiman with Schmidt Custom Floors on why tape is a no go on gym floors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rciRGBcjm0A

The following are some photos of tape peeling finish

A number of factors impact how much the tape will damage the gym floor, including how long it has been on the floor. (the longer it has been down, the more likely it is to pull up finish) Relative humidity is also a factor but putting tape on the gym floor is to be avoided. 

Some of the worst examples of tape doing damage to a gym floor has to do with the stained areas of the floor. Finish doesn’t always adhere uniformly on top of the stain, when tape is applied to stained areas, delamination is very likely. 

This is especially disconcerting because staining a gymnasium floor is a time consuming and expensive upgrade to the graphics package. Furthermore, once the stain has been damaged by tape, it is very difficult to repair. 

Those are the reasons NOT to apply tape to a gym floor because of the damage that will result to the floor. HOWEVER, as the paragraph above by the MFMA points out: tape has a different coefficient of friction than the finish. The possible result of this is an injury to a player, which is always something to be avoided!

So, what is to be done…… 

The best option would be to have a competent professional paint on the additional game lines that your facility requires. Colors like Maple tan or Dunes tan blend very well with the Maple gym floor and even when painted on the main playing surface are hardly noticeable from the stands. 

Another option is a temporary floor marking kit like the one from Floormarx


Here is another product. 


These markers are temporary and should be used with caution, but can provide a short-term game line solution. Please note, in spite of what is said in the advertising it is possible for this colorant to get between the boards and be difficult to impossible to get completely off. Use caution when using these products!!

Other short-term solutions include game line marking vinyl that uses static to stick it to the floor instead of adhesive. 

As was mentioned above, the best solution will always be to paint on game lines on a permanent basis.