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"Marley" has become the generic name for portable roll-up dance flooring. The material itself is a vinyl sheet, usually 63" wide. In use, it's unrolled onto a hard surface and taped in place. While colors can vary, most often it's black on one side and white on the other. Since the white side gets dirty, it's seldom used :-).

The original Marley was made by ETEX Group SA, Belgium, but the line was acquired by Tarkett AG in 2005. There are now several companies that make similar products, including Rosco.

Application

Marley flooring is typically used for ballet, jazz, and similar dance performances where the dancers want a surface with very high friction. For most social dancing, such as ballroom, swing, or contra, it provides more friction than is desirable and could even lead to dancer injury.

Storing

When not in use, the flooring should be rolled up on a stout tube with the better side in. The loose end should be taped down, and roll stored flat, not on end (although some manufacturers DO recommend storing on end). Make sure that it's rolled tight and straight, which is harder than it sounds. If possible, put each roll in a bag to further protect it, especially from sharp edges.

Handling

Since the stuff can weigh over 2 pounds per foot, moving a decent sized roll is usually a two-person job. It's also easy to ding the outside if it's dropped or set down on a rock or nail.

Subfloor preparation

The purpose of Marley is to provide an smooth & consistent surface, not to even out cracks and low spots in the subfloor. This means that the base must be as flat and even as possible. There shouldn't be any protruding nails, cracks, uneven heights, sharp edges, etc. Level out the subfloor as much as possible with cardboard, gaff tape, masonite, or thin sheet metal. Use whatever works, but remember that someone might step on it. Make sure that the fix isn't worse than the problem. If the subfloor is an assembled set of platforms or risers, make sure that they're all locked together and that there aren't any soft spots where a leg isn't touching the floor or a support beam is broken. Fix any soft spots before installing the marley itself. Extreme cases might call for an additional subfloor of masonite or clean plywood. (If so, tape it together. Don't use nails or screws.)

Once the subfloor is even, sweep or vacuum to remove any loose dirt, sand, etc.

Installing

Let the flooring get to room temperature before unrolling.

Laying marley takes lots of tape- each strip is taped on all four sides (so a 30' long strip will need at about 24 yards of tape). One roll of gaff tape is usually 60 yards, so plan accordingly. (Often people save short rolls for the ends, reserving full rolls for the sides.) It is OK to use multiple strips of tape on a long side, but try not to put the 'joint' towards the center so it's less likely to come up accidentally.

Once the marley is at room temperature, unroll and place each strip approximately in position. Usually strips are run across the stage or dance area, not front to back. When time permits, turn on the stage lights for a half hour or so, to warm the marley closer to the show temperature. Pull the front strip into position and tape one end, then stretch the marley and tape the other end. Short strips can be stretched by simply pulling on the loose end, but longer strips usually require one person to pull and another to do a kind of shuffle from the taped end. (It's easier to demonstrate than describe.) When both ends are taped, tape down the sides. Be careful not to stretch the tape itself since that will cause puckers in the floor.

Once the first strip is taped, lay the next upstage one- butt the long edges,tape the ends, then tape the sides.

Depending on the lengths of strips, it's sometimes necessary to add one or two strips laid front-to-back. If this is needed, put these strips on the ends of the layout, not in the middle.

Keep it clean

  • Minimize the amount of "street" dirt that is brought onto the flooring. Shoes from outside should be wiped or brushed.
  • Do not drink, eat or smoke while on your floor. You shouldn't be smoking on stage, anyway.
  • Don't put sharp edged items, scenery, chairs, tables etc on the flooring, they'll damage it. Use 3" squares of masonite or plywood, smooth side down, under legs.
  • The flooring is not a dropcloth or worksurface-- don't use it as one.
  • Anything spilled or dropped on the flooring should be cleaned up immediately.
  • Do not use scouring powders or pads as they will remove the finish and permanently damage the floor.

It's common practice to mop the floor both after installation and after use to clean it. Use hot water (evaporates faster) without soap or cleaners, rinse the mop often, and make sure the floor is dry before rolling it up. If for any reason there's a a lot of dust or dirt, vacuum up as much as possible before sweeping or mopping.

Removal

Removing the floor is pretty much the reverse of installing. Untape the last-installed strip, roll (as above), repeat. Pull the tape somewhat gently to avoid warping the edges of the strip. Opinions differ on the best way to uptape. (I prefer to hold the tape close to the floor and pull at an angle away from the strip.)

For further and possible conflicting info, see: http://www.rosco.com/us/technotes/floors/flooring_facts.asp and http://www.rosco.com/includes/technotes/floors/FloorInstallManual.pdf

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