Yes, you can tap on a marley-type floor. “Marley” has become the prevalent choice of surface for most dance studios. Before choosing whether a marley-type dance floor or hardwood is best for you, here are a few things to consider:
One of the main differences between tap dancing on hardwood vs “marley” is surface texture. Tap dancers love dancing on wood because that’s what they’ve grown accustomed to. However, some people are unaware that when dancing on hardwood floors, they are not really dancing on hardwood. They are dancing on paint that has been put on the wood to help protect and preserve it. While vinyl dance floors may limit the tap dancer’s sliding, each dancer will find that their allowance of movement will change depending on what particular floor covering and shoes are being used. Then the experience of the tap dancer comes in.
Another difference is sound. Vinyl dance floors will take away some of the high frequency pitch in the tap sound but there is so much change in tone from shoe to shoe, studio to studio and theatre to theatre that this very slight difference in tone is not an issue.
Cost should also be considered. Most studios can’t afford a separate room with hardwood floors specifically for tap dancing, so “marley” has become the prevalent surface choice for dance studios.
Tapping on any surface will most likely cause some damage. Since the hard metal on the tap shoes hit the floor with such force, it really comes down to damaging either the shoes, or the floor. This is regardless of what type of floor it is. Many studios will recommend tapping on Matlay dance floors because the cost to replace it is much less than replacing/repairing hardwood floors.
The specific type of floor installed underneath the marley-type dance floor is important because it impacts how much tapping the marley-type vinyl can withstand. Alvas Matlay over a strong floating subfloor will lessen the damage tapping will do.
Helpful tip: Some studios keep a small repair kit in their studios and make it a point to regularly remind students to check that the screws are screwed all the way into their tap shoes before starting class.