In this article, Robby Schlegel explores the pros and cons of some of your stage flooring options. What should your stage surface be made from? Consider these thoughts.
Look down. What surface are you sitting or standing on? Maybe it’s the low-pile carpet of your swank tech or worship leader office. Perhaps it’s the stained concrete of your neighborhood indy coffee house. Maybe you find yourself atop the natural hardwood flooring of your kitchen, reading through your morning paper and catching up on the latest CSDI post from your iPad.
Whatever the circumstance, wherever you are, someone put thought and a plan of action into the foundation beneath your feet.
- How much traffic does it need to withstand?
- Are spills inevitable or more of a rarity?
- How often will the surface be used?
The same is true when deciding on what surface to use when finishing or re-finishing your auditorium stage.
Through my tour days, I’ve seen pretty much every possible type of flooring used on stages: hardwood, carpet, concrete, laminate, plywood (sometimes painted, sometimes completely raw) tile, rubber, linoleum, and even marble. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the most common stage flooring options.
Many church stages have carpet as their surface. A lot of times this is either the same carpet used in the auditorium or maybe a coordinating color that helps distinguish the stage from the rest of the floor.
Carpet, especially high grade, commercial loop, can be a great stage flooring option and is typically one of the most cost effective ways to finish the stage. Especially with new build outs, adding carpet into the project for the stage adds minimal cost compared to the total square footage needed for the entire project.
Carpet is great at keeping the wood soled boots of your worship team members down to a reasonable volume as they enter and exit the stage. Plus, it’s easy enough to vacuum and maintain along with the rest of the carpet in the worship space.
On the downside, though, stage risers, set pieces, and pedal boards won’t slide easily and can even snag—ruining your new investment. Spills from haze machines and communion cups can be a pain to clean, and no one wants a spoiled floor stained with drips from the pastor’s cup of morning joe.
Still, the affordability and dampening factors are worth considering carpet as one of the better stage flooring options.
A less seen, but great option for stage floors, is stained concrete. If you haven’t seen stained concrete, you probably haven’t been to Chipotle; in which case, that’s a whole other discussion we to have.
Stained concrete is a more viable option for new construction projects, because you can have the stage poured just after the foundation is laid. This is relatively inexpensive and is a sure fire way to make sure your church’s stage withstands even the hardest jumping youth worship band in the nation.
Stained nicely, concrete floors hold up to spills, allow risers to glide across for your series set changes, and look absolutely beautiful. (You could also choose to paint the concrete, but be prepared to have an annual stage painting party to keep it looking fresh.)
Though louder than carpet in terms of walking to and from the stage, the dense properties of the concrete shouldn’t echo through the auditorium as much as a hollow, traditional stage deck.
That said; if you choose this material, make sure you install plenty of conduit and stage boxes before the pour, allowing cables to be run under the deck if needed.
Hardwood or laminate flooring is probably the most common of stage flooring options. It’s a great choice and my personal favorite for finishing your stage. Hardwood is more expensive to maintain over the long term, so consider some of the quality laminate options available.
These materials give the stage a beautiful finish that compliments staging and lighting very well. A low to medium gloss allows the lighting to pop off the stage floor, adding depth and saturation to the look without nasty reflections on projection screens.
You can move stage props and risers with ease, andpedal boards can slide out of the way of the communicator’s high top table. Plus, if your arts department has a riveting dance piece planned for the Christmas opener, you won’t have to worry about renting and laying down a dance floor over the carpet.
The last option I see as a worthy contender is portable staging. Used in arena’s, outdoor events, and similar to what your drum set is currently on, stage risers, decks, and platforms offer a high level of versatility to your worship space.
The upfront cost is nothing to glaze over, but may offer the flexibility that makes the expense worthwhile.
Consider this: if for Easter you want to completely change the look of the stage, you have the option to move decks around. Instead of a 60′ by 24′ rectangle stage, you could transform the stage into a cross or other shape to match your series graphic.
Want to change up the height of the stage for a night of worship?Or is there a touring production renting out your space? A few volunteers served a pizza lunch can knock out the change in a few hours.
Additionally, many decks can come with a hard laminate surface on one side. Flip it over and you have a carpeted surface great for the thrust at the center of the stage where the pastor will stay planted during his message. The possibilities are endless.
These features might make portable decking the frontrunner for you in stage flooring options.
So those are my thoughts on the pros and cons of different stage flooring options. What about you? What flooring options are you interested in using for the next remodel or building initiative? What do you currently have on your stage and are you pleased with it?