Does Roller Skating Damage Floors? Wood, Laminate, Linoleum?
Roller Skating is a fun hobby for both children and adults. Unfortunately, not everyone lives close to a roller rink, or has access to dry, warm weather year round. If you need somewhere for your kids to skate when it's raining out, or are just learning the basics before hitting the rink, you may be eyeing the smooth surfaces inside your own home.
As a general rule, wood, laminate, and linoleum floors will not be damaged by the wheels of roller skates or roller blades. Make sure your wheels are clean and are made of smooth material with no sharp edges. Toe stops can leave marks, so test yours on a piece of scrap or hidden flooring before you start.
Roller skate and roller blade wheels are generally safe for home flooring
Home flooring materials are made to withstand wear and tear. High quality skate wheels will not do any more damage than you would see from shoes. Certain types of wheels, especially the cheap plastic wheels that can come on some children's skates are a different story. These will certainly scratch flooring. Make sure your wheels are smooth with no sharp edges.
It's also important to make sure your wheels are clean, especially if you often use your skates outside. Sand and dirt can build up on your wheels and this could scratch your floors, or make you have to clean more often. Use a damp towel to wipe down wheels before skating indoors.
Toe stops can leave marks!
Be sure to check the toe stop before skating inside or turning your kids loose. The safest toe stop will be natural rubber colored or white, and be made of natural rubber materials. Gumball brand toe stops are highly reputed to be the most non marking and are the preferred toe stop for many roller derby teams. If you have a piece of flooring similar to the floor in your home, try dragging your toe stop across it to see if it leaves a mark. You can visit a local flooring store to find a piece of floor to try if you don't have one. Alternately, try the toe stop out on a small, hidden piece of floor.
Specific types of floors for skating inside
The type of flooring you have in your home will have an impact on your skating experience. Wood and laminate flooring provide a sturdy, smooth skate surface, but are also the most costly types of flooring to replace if they become damaged. Take care to watch how the surface of your floor reacts to your wheels the first time you skate. The only way to know 100% that your floors are safe is to skate on them a little and see how it works.
Linoleum floor is often the only smooth, hard surface in rental apartments and other small homes with carpeting. Linoleum tends to be in smaller areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. These places are not large enough for much skating, but can be a good place to practice tricks and small jam moves. Be aware, however, that small tricks can be the most damaging type of skating to do on your floors. Spins, moves involving toe stop use, and falling can all damage your floors more than skating around in circles.
What about carpet? If your wheels are clean, there is very little damage you can do to your carpet with your roller skates. Practicing on carpet is a safe way to learn balance and tricks.
If you have a garage, concrete flooring can be a great place to roller skate indoors. You cannot damage concrete with wheels or toe stops, and it is a smooth skating surface. Make sure you sweep up debris and do not skate in oil or water.
Which wheels to choose for skating around the house
If you are skating inside, you might think that hard indoor wheels might be the best choice. This is not the case. Rink wheels, numbered 84 and above, are best for rink skating, where the floors are specifically designed for wheels, and there are not a lot of obstacles or sharp turns. In your home, you will be better off choosing a gummy outdoor wheel, which will help you grip on slick flooring and keep your speed down so that you can avoid crashing into things.
Children's skates often come with cheap plastic wheels, but they can usually be changed to a higher quality gummy wheel for skating in your house. These wheels will give your child a much better experience outside as well! Low quality wheels are no fun, no matter where you skate.
Other important considerations about skating in the house
There are many factors to consider when it comes to skating in your house. If you live in an apartment with downstairs neighbors, choose a time to skate when your neighbors are not home to avoid getting a noise complaint.
While skating inside can be a safe, fun activity, there are generally more obstacles in your house then there are at the rink or outdoors. Take care to move furniture and breakable items out fo the way. It's easy to lose control and not be able to stop on skates.
Beginners and children often stop by grabbing onto things, so think ahead about what they will grab onto in your home. Are there door jams or large pieces of furniture that hands can grab onto? Having everyone wash their hands before beginning can save you from having to clean dirty hand prints off of your walls.
Lastly, while it might seem more safe to practice spins and tricks in your kitchen with the counters to hold onto, remember that if you were to fall in there, there are more places to hit your head or injure yourself. Skating is safest in wide open spaces. Safety gear is recommended for skating in any enviroment.