Blue tape marks spots on the gym floor that have yet to dry and harden. (Abbey Collins)

Blue tape marks spots on the gym floor that have yet to dry and harden. (Abbey Collins)

When the Haines school’s gym floor was refinished in early August, it was only supposed to take about four days to dry. Instead, school is in session and the gym doors are locked as school administrators and maintenance staff continue to wait for the finishing product to harden.

It all comes down to air. Superintendent Tony Habra says they were under the impression the finishing product could dry chemically.

“But this is not a chemical dry,” says Habra. “It requires air to do. So that led us to change our process.”

You can hear the fans as soon as you walk into the school’s competition gym. And it’s hot – they jacked up the heat in an attempt to speed the drying process.

This is the bigger of the two gyms at the school, and the one that’s used for high school sports. Volleyball is the main concern right now, then basketball and wrestling. Habra says the gym is unusable until the floor is completely dry and hardened.

The problem does not span the entire floor, but around the room blue tape marks the spots where it’s still too soft, and there’s a lot of blue.

Habra demonstrates how stepping on certain areas of the floor can leave a footprint.

When the finishing product was applied early last month, it went on way too thick. Habra says the same machine that was used last year did not work correctly this time around.

“And apparently the machine didn’t function appropriately and it dumped probably twice as much product as it should have and that’s what caused all of this issue,” says Habra.

The top layer exposed to the air dried, but some product underneath did not. They’ve tried to speed the drying process several different ways including applying mineral spirits and UV light. But those were unsuccessful and now they’re scraping. The top layer has to come off to allow the finish underneath to dry. The next step is to sand the floor down and go back to square one.

“There’s so many spots, as you can see with all the tape that’s laying on the floor, there’s far more spots then when we started to really look at it then just do a couple of little spots and just maybe feather it in,” says Habra. “We’re going to have to do the whole floor again.”

The new product is scheduled to arrive next week, and they’re not taking any chances by using the same machine. Instead, they’ll go back to an older, less technical method of application. Habra hopes the work will be done within the month.

“We can no longer just sit on our hands and hope for the best,” says Habra. “This is an important part of the school district, an important part of the community, it needs to be dried and it needs to function for us.”

Until the blue tape is off, the fans gone, and you can no longer leave a footprint in the floor, the gym is off-limits to students and athletes. Habra hopes it will all be done by September 27.