Frequently Asked Questions
Who is STM Studio Supplies?
STM Studio Supplies is the Performing Arts Division of Stanmart Film Services. The company originated in Sydney in 1980 to service the needs of the entertainment industry. Since 2007 it has been growing a niche market in the dance studio industry under the STM banner. During this time STM has earned a reputation as the premier supplier to the dance industry in Australia. In recent times it has also expanded it’s operations into New Zealand and has carried out a number of projects in Asia.
What type of services does STM Studio Supplies provide?
STM’s core service is fitting out professional dance studios suitable for any style of dance, home dance studios and pilates studios
What type of facilities commonly use STM’s dance studio products?
- Professional dance studios.
- Dance schools.
- Home dance studios.
- Pilates and thera-band studios.
- Fitness centre gymnasiums.
- School gymnasiums.
What issues should customers be aware of when they consider fitting out facilities of this type, in order to ensure that the end product is fit for the purpose they intend?
- Health issues relating to fatigue and a range of injuries which commonly affect users if there is a lack of shock absorption built-in to the floor design.
- Safety issues relating to (i) the potential for glass mirrors to fracture if they suffer impact damage and drop glass shards (ii) the danger of floor surfaces where metal fixings or timber splinters protrude above the surface if the floor is not properly designed or installed.
- Distortion of visual images on mirror walls both along joint lines and in the middle of mirror sheets if fixings are inadequate.
- Thermal comfort and the need to adjust ambient temperatures as and when required by the use of air conditioning, fans or heaters.
- Audio comfort which may be affected by excessive sound levels or echoes bouncing off hard floor, wall and ceiling surfaces.
- Suitability of barre selection to fit the particular needs of the users concerned. For example barres can be – fixed or portable; (if fixed) wall or floor mounted; adjustable or fixed height; single or tandem; variable in length.
- Durability of barre fixings which relates to the need for pilates or thera-band studios to have heavy duty fixings in order to cope with the demands of those particular types of use.
- Storage space required for any portable barres and mirrors, and the option of minimising that storage space requirement with the inclusion of rotating legs.
- Nuisance to neighbours that occupy the floor below a studio (if that is applicable), when they may suffer the sound of repeated heavy foot falls from dancers in motion, commonly known as a herd of elephants!.
What items are included in STM’s dance studio product range?
- Sprung dance floors utilising high density foam cushions.
- Resilient dance floors utilising foam sheet underlay on timber floor structures.
- Wall mirrors, both fixed and roll away.
- Ballet/exercise barre systems.
- Low-slip clear paint for timber floors.
- Vinyl sheet dance floor covering (to substitute for timber t&g floor boarding).
- Airborne sound absorption panels installed on hard wall and ceiling surfaces.
- Drapes and decorative panels for hard wall surfaces to absorb airborne sound.
- Impact sound insulation system to isolate timber floor structures.
- Make-up mirrors and chairs.
- Wardrobe racks.
If a sprung dance floor is the ultimate type of dance floor, how is it constructed and what are it’s key features?
A sprung dance floor has six elements listed as follows from the bottom layer up:
1. The bottom layer is the existing floor structure.
2. Plastic waterproof membrane.
3. Plywood sheets with high density foam cushions fixed to underside
4. MDF or Masonite sheets layed at right angles to the plywood sheets.
5. The top layer is the finished surface of either timber Weathertex or vinyl sheet.
6. Timber ramp at edge of dance floor for transition to surface of existing floor.
The key feature of this design is the high density foam cushions fixed to the underside of the plywood sheets. They give the floor resilience, the ability to absorb shock consistently across the surface of the entire floor. Added to this is the limited fixing of the multi layered sheet system which gives more flexibility to the floor and adds to the shock absorption factor. This protects users as much as possible from suffering fatigue and injury.
What differences are there between the specification for a professional dance studio and a home dance studio?
An obvious difference between these two types of facility is that a professional dance studio is inevitably much bigger than a home dance studio. However, there may be no difference between their specifications. They both have the same range of options available to vary the specification of the end product in response to financial constraints and customer preferences.
What are the differences between the types of mirrors that are available for selection?
- Glass mirror is a traditional material. It has the potential to shatter and splinter and thereby create a threat to health and safety. It should only be installed with a Category II Vinyl Backing. It requires careful handling and fixing. It has the lowest cost of the three options.
- Glassless Mirror is made of Mylar which is a tough vinyl membrane with a highly reflective silver surface that is stretched tight over a timber frame, similar to a drum skin. It is completely safe in use. It is very light in weight and very easy to handle, install and relocate. It is a brighter reflection than glass or acrylic being a front surface mirror but it is the most costly of the three options.
Does STM actually design and manufacture any of its products?
Yes, STM designs and manufactures many of the products that it sells, the exceptions being those products which carry the brand name of another company. It operates a research and development programme which tests and seeks to improve the performance of the materials that it uses. It also searches the world market for better materials that offer better solutions.
If a customer has a limited budget are there ways to adjust the specification in order to reduce the cost of the finished product, without prejudice to the fit for the purpose criteria?
There are always ways to reduce the cost of a project, depending on choices that always have to be made as a matter of course. For example – a sprung floor or a resilient floor; a vinyl or timber floor finish; one of the four types of wall mirrors each with different price points; one of the various types of barres; the number and length of the selected barres; some materials (such as sound absorption panels) are sometimes considered to be either not essential or not necessary; installation can be done either by tradesmen or DIY.
Can STM products be DIY installed by customers?
Yes, all STM products can be DIY installed. STM provide after sales support for DIY in the form of technical manuals and a free help line.
The fitting out of a dance studio requires a significant financial investment. Is it possible to increase the life span of that investment by easily removing and re-using the materials used, if and when the studio has to be relocated?
Yes, almost all STM products and methods of construction allow for the materials to be easily dismantled, relocated and re-used if and when the need arises. For example plywood sheets are tongued and grooved (t&g) and loose layed; MDF sheets are loose layed and fixed to the plywood sheets below with low tack double sided tape; floor boards are tongued and grooved and no nails are used to fix them; vinyl sheet can be layed loose or with low tack double sided tape; other components are either bolted in position or portable. The only exception is the so called permanent floor, when a conscious decision is made to use full strength adhesive and staples to fix the sheets, to satisfy the requirements of a particular user.
Health and safety is of paramount importance. What H&S features have STM incorporated in their products to ensure that they satisfy accepted health and safety standards?
STM is committed to creating a safe space for dance and other forms of exercise and all of its products satisfy or exceed the relevant statutory requirements. This is of paramount importance to STM. The many health and safety friendly features in STMs product range and methods of construction include, for example high density flexible polyester polyurethane foam cushion shock absorbers; EVA foam underlay designed to absorb shock ; the absence of nails fixings; Black Juju low-slip paint for timber t&g boards; Impactamirror, acrylic mirror and Glassless Mirror instead of the traditional glass mirror.
Are STM products recognised and certified by the relevant authorities?
Yes, they are. STM acknowledges that it must comply with all the relevant statutory requirements and it has expended a great deal of time and effort in order to make sure that it does. Many of STM’s major clients routinely require proof of compliance as a pre-qualification for the tender process.
What guarantees and warranties does STM provide to its customers?
STM provides an unlimited guarantee that on delivery to site all materials will be to the customers complete satisfaction. It also provides a limited manufacturers warranty for a 3 year period
What advice and assistance does STM provide to its customers to ensure the proper DIY installation and maintenance of its products?
- Written instructions for the installation of all DIY products
- Guidance note “Caring for Your Floor”
- Guidance note “How to Clean Glass and Mylar Mirrors”
- Free help line available during normal working hours
Flooring – sprung floor
What are the reasons for having 300mm centres on the foam pads as opposed to just having full foam underlay beneath the whole dance floor surface?
Apart from cost advantage, the main reason for the spacing is to allow the floor to move and also to take advantage of the air contained in the void areas. A solid sponge mat is by nature not as resilient as a number of small pads. The reason for this is that the individual pads compress more easily than a solid block, which limits its compression to the point of loading. As the pads compress, the air surrounding them is forced out. This is something known as the ‘thrust’ effect as the air has to travel to the perimeter of the floor to escape. In a manner not dissimilar to the dynamics of an aircraft wing, as the air pressure changes in that point load area, the surrounding air mass creates a resistance then as soon as the pressure is released returns to equalise the floor in an upward action.
We are interested in a coloured dance surface – how can this be done?
Some vinyls are available in colours, however they are often indent only. If you have a timber floor you can paint it with primer in any colour you choose and then add 2-3 coats of our Clear Juju on top. Please note that you will need to leave the floor for three weeks to cure fully before tapping on it.
In the STM DIY Sprung Floor, what are the benefits of the dual layer of Ply & MDF, as compared with a single layer of 19mm Yellow tongue particle board?
Integral to the design of the STM Sprung Floor is the crosshatching of the two layers of timber material. The top layer may be MDF for cheapness, ply, masonite or Weathertex depending on how you propose to finish it and the fund available. This top layer will join more neatly than the one underneath and reduces the need for superficial fixings.
We do not recommend particleboard flooring. Compared to plywood it has little resilience or “spring” and the floor is comparatively dead. Further, any fixings will be exposed on the top layer and can work loose over time when exposed to the desired movement in the floor.
You say Juju works with the Show Works Sprungfloor. Would Juju work with MDF in the STM DIY floor plan? Or can I use Yellow-Tongue on top of the ply?
The advantage of the show works floor is that it’s patented interlocking system and engineered boards create a single layer that, with a good sanding and sealing, is dance ready. The MDF is a layer to be used under vinyl. For the reasons described above it takes up the imperfections of the tongue and groove boards and creates a smooth even layer free of fixings. Where the floor is permanent and glued we recommend the use of glued and stapled masonite underfloor.
Weathertex has the advantage of being large sheets that tend to lay flat and need minimal fixings.
Masonite sheets need fixing with 22mm staples or ring shank nails at 150mm centres and professional sanding. This material also limits the ease of re-use but is a good tap surface.
Would MDF and Juju be OK?
MDF and Juju are not a good combination as in this application the top surface need to be fixed. Further the MDF is too soft to dance on directly and water reactive when cleaned.
Some people do use yellow-tongue ply screwed onto battens, with pads placed at even intervals beneath the battens to give some spring to the floor. These battens are not necessary and the spring created can be uneven (less spring where the battens are placed). Also, the fixings can work their way loose over time.
Flooring – relocation of Tarkett Granit on Sprung Floor
Is the Tarkett Granit portable if we moved?
The Granit IQ vinyl requires gluing (a “permanent lay”). To enable the gluing process (which creates strong demands on the floor below) a subfloor is laid. This consists of 900mm x 1200mm sheets of masonite glued and stapled at 150mm intervals to the sprung floor below. Whilst this can be removed and sacrificed it is very labour intensive with over 100 fixings per sheet. Regarding the vinyl – the residual glue, if the vinyl is lifted, is uneconomical to clean off and reuse and therefore makes the vinyl useless. The sprung floor below, with a good sanding, could be relocated and reused as a starting point for a new floor.
Flooring – portable vinyl for Irish Dance
What vinyls are suitable for Irish Dance? We use a shared space and must roll away the vinyl after classes.
I would recommend the Stagestep Super Timestep as the best vinyl for this purpose. It is flexible like softer vinyls and marketed as “virtually indestructable” by Stagestep in the USA, where they use it as a rental floor for tap as well as other dance styles. We also use it in our rental department and love it’s ease of use but it can get damaged – typically from corrupt tap plates. This vinyl is very suitable for rolling up and out repeatedly.
Another option is the Stagestep Timestep. It is very similar to the Tarkett Granit vinyl in its make-up and durability but does not need to be permanently laid and can be rolled up when not in use. This multi-purpose vinyl is very tough and is very suited to percussive dance styles. Although not designed for repeated rolling up and out, it can be used for this purpose.
Next in line would be the Rosco Adagio vinyl. This is a thinner vinyl, making it easier to roll up and generally handle, but it is designed with tap and other hard shoe styles in mind so it is tough. There is also the Rosco Adagio Tour, a similar vinyl which is thinner than the Adagio and therefore easier to handle – designed to be rolled up and out repeatedly, especially for touring shows.
Tarkett do not sell a vinyl suitable for hard shoe dance that can be rolled away – the Tarkett Granit must be permanently laid.
Flooring – vinyl
What vinyls are suitable for Ballroom?
The Rosco Adagio, Stagestep Timestep and Super Timestep are all classed as suitable for Ballroom dance. We believe the Shi Chi is the most durable of the vinyls and therefore best suited. We can, however, give no guarantee on any dance floor vinyl against damage from ballroom “heels” and most dance floor vinyls are not slippery enough for this style of dance.
Fixed barres – the adjustable wall-bracket system
How heavy is the removable barre?
The barre weighs 7-8kg with the brackets attached. This means it’s manageable by one person, although it is generally easier to adjust the height or remove the barre with two people.
Do the black knobs screw into the plate or into pre-drilled holes?
The knobs screw into a rather clever sprung plate which slides within the channel to lock in any position along it. This means there are no preset holes or positions yet it remains incredibly strong and is rated at 700kg!
The barre will go into a multi-purpose area. Will it be strong enough to take school children swinging on it?
Whilst it is impossible to make a guarantee against all events, essentially this is what we expect to happen. We can supply extra fixings if you have concerns. As the system itself can cope, it really comes down to how well it is fixed to the wall. The same consideration applies to fixed barres, of course, but with the adjustable bracket the opportunity for extra fixings is greater (although they can affect the “travel” of the slide if placed within the area of adjustment most often wanted). Remember, too, it’s a simple matter to remove the barres and brackets from the track and store them away. This is often the case with Police Boys Clubs and the like where the rooms are used for many different applications.
Can I fix brackets to a Gyprock lined timber frame wall?
While a masonry or brick wall is ideal, a Gyprock lined timber frame wall – and particularly a metal furring wall – will need reinforcement.
We recommend a 25 mm or greater Plywood or MDF sheet be attached from floor to above top of barre fixing, glued with construction adhesive and screwed into the timber studs. This can be painted or clear finished with a chamfered top edge, or even better, covered with Autex Quietspace. This decorative finish won’t mark up like a painted surface and will improve your rooms acoustics at the same time. Wherever possible try to line up your brackets with the studs but if you can’t, the plywood should hold as the force outward is spread along the whole barre not just the one point. With a timber stud wall if they can be located in appropriate points they will be an acceptable fixing for ballet but not recommended for pilates.
What spacing should there be between brackets?
For Dance we find an average bracket centre of less than 1500mm and for Pilates less than 1200mm. When in doubt use an extra one. In the long term it’s cheap insurance.
Do you have some sort of corner joining bracket?
We have found that corners are fairly useless. People don’t want to be jammed into a corner and if they are, in a crowded class, there tends to be interference from the other nearby class members. As a rule we stop 250mm to 300 mm short of the corner and come in by the same amount for our first bracket. As our barres have nosed ends this looks attractive and you are not paying for unusable Barre space.