We’ve been pouring out a lot of info lately, especially about float center construction. This is something that we can’t stress enough. Most float centers start out struggling to create a balance between limited funding and constructing the center of their dreams. It’s tempting, and sometimes wholly necessary, to make compromises during construction for the sake of your budget. After all, who wouldn’t want soundproofing comparable to Prince’s recording suite? (I’ll bet it’s waterproof, too.)
However, the technical skills and specialized building materials needed for a buildout are incredibly expensive and, sometimes, simply out of reach for float centers just starting out. You also don’t want to do what we did at Float On and just throw up non-soundproofed walls and rubber mats on the floors.
So, where do you draw the line?
Well, that’s a personal decision every float center owner has to make based on the time and resources they have. One line we don’t think you should cross is this: as much as possible, when building out your float center, gut it completely. Start from scratch.
At least then the mistakes you make are your own and your building will hold fewer surprises down the line. There are many benefits that you may not think of immediately, so I’ll run through some of the biggest ones just to illustrate how much of a difference gutting your space can make.
Better control over soundproofing & waterproofing
When you soundproof a room, it’s already a floor-to-ceiling endeavor. If you don’t know what those floors and ceilings are made of, or know how old they are for certain, then you’re making a huge gamble on how well they’ll block sound or hold up against salt and water. If you gut your space, you’ll know exactly what the bones of your center are made of. Keep in mind that you probably want to know this beforehand. When choosing a location, always get your contractor to look at the space with a fine-toothed comb.
Drains, drains, everywhere a drain
One of the most tangible benefits to gutting your space is the absolute freedom to work on your plumbing and put floor drains everywhere. The perfect float room would probably just be one giant floor drain but, scaling down from that, we’d recommend three: one by the shower/float tank, one by the pump, and one in the changing area. More, of course, is always better.
Better building knowledge
You can’t really, 100% know what your center is made of unless you put it up yourself. To help you understand what I mean, let me tell you a story about Float On. We did NOT gut our space to begin with, and we definitely didn’t take down the walls on the edges of the buildings. One of our last originally-standing walls was finally replaced last year. When we took it down, we found out that it wasn’t sheetrock like we’d originally thought but, instead, was cardboard that was plastered over with newspapers stuffed behind it for insulation. I know this sounds like a gross over exaggeration, but it is absolutely true. We were losing heat and had a terrible weakness in our soundproofing for YEARS – never mind the fire hazard that it posed!
Better understanding of future repairs
How long until that classic hardwood floor that might have been there for 30 years fails under the demands of a float center? 2 years? Five? A couple weeks? Your guess is as good as anyone else’s. Even when you replace materials with less than optimal parts, you can guess how long they’ll last based on wear and tear. Even in the worst case scenario, you can go with sub-optimal flooring and expect to get a certain amount of use out of it while you save up to replace it. At Float On, we’ve replaced our floors on 9 different occasions, so we know this dance really well.
Layout control/getting your tanks in the building
Lots of float tanks are huge. Bigger than a lot of doorways. We’ve heard countless stories of the creative solutions float center owners have found to move in tanks, and more than a few of those involved cutting a giant hole into an already soundproofed wall to get it in place. It’s infinitely easier to build a room around them, or plan for their size ahead of time, instead of hoping that you can fit them into a current space. This holds true for so many different elements of your center, as well. Building from the ground up is truly a great way to ensure that you control as many variables for your center as possible.
This ties into the previous point, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. Getting to start from scratch means that you can plan out the heating and airflow to each of your float rooms in detail. Since float tanks are basically humidity machines, leaving this up to what your building already has can be an absolute nightmare. This can also have a huge impact on the consistency of the float experience and even help reduce the strain on waterproofing systems.
This is only the tip of the iceberg for why you should gut your space, but even just these reasons help illustrate just how valuable it is to do. It may seem like a massive expense right at the beginning of your construction, but the amount of money it saves you in the long run is nearly incalculable.
Gut. That. Space!