How to Build a Home Dance Studio
A few years ago my husband and I decided that we needed a bigger home for our family. We also agreed to find a home which would include a space for his voice studio and a dance space for me. When we looked at houses I would try to imagine where the dance studio could fit but also had everything else our family needed. We were fortunate to finally find a house that did work for all our needs and got busy right away after we moved in to transform it to the way we wanted.
Building a Dance Floor
First, I had to decide what kind of dance floor would be best for my needs. There are many different types of dance floor and what you choose will depend on several factors:
- Do you want something portable or permanent?
- How much traffic will you have in your space?
- What kind of dancing will you be doing?
- Are you able to build the floor yourself?
- How much do you want to spend?
- How much time so you want to spend on maintenance?
These questions will all need to be carefully thought out and answered.
For me, as a business owner and a mom making sure that I am spending responsibly is important. I always try to find a balance between what is the top of the line product and what is affordable. You don’t want to overspend however remember that if you don’t spend enough and get something that is cheap you may actually have to spend more to replace it. Or you may just be unhappy if you don’t spend enough. Either way you will end up not liking your purchase and have to replace it at some point. That might cost more than if you had just made a better investment in the first place.
Having a floor that was able to handle everything from ballet to tap was important to me. I needed something not too slippery but also something that had a good sound for tap. I wanted something affordable but good quality. Finally I wanted something that was easy to take care of. I would try to save money by doing as much of the work as I could myself.
There are so many dance floors to choose from out there and luckily there is also a lot of great information. I visited several dance supply company websites and watched many videos of other people installing dance floors at home and in dance studios.
In the end, I decided I wanted a professional looking floor that looked like it could be in a dance studio. I also wanted a sprung subfloor since I am not getting any younger and my joints are important to me. The next step was to figure out how to make that happen and not spend thousands of dollars.
After watching many people build a subfloor I was pretty confident that with the help of my husband and my dad we could build an inexpensive subfloor ourselves.
As for the surface I chose Stagestep’s Timestep floor because it can be used for any style of dance. I was also able to purchase remnants of the floor because my space was small. Remnants are often sold for less because the company is trying to get rid of their scraps. If you have a small studio I would definitely ask about remnants.
As well as the flooring I also bought foam squares from Stagestep. You will need something to help build the subfloor if you want it sprung. You can lay out 2 x 4’s under plywood or make your own foam pieces with something like cut up pool noodles for example. It seemed that using foam under the plywood would be a lot simpler than building a subfloor with 2 x 4’s so I went with that option. I was also nervous about using foam that wasn’t specifically meant for this purpose so that is why I purchased the foam from Stagestep.
Basically to build my spring dance floor I needed the flooring, plywood, foam, floor tape, screws and a moisture barrier if you live in an area where that is required.
When we purchased our new house the basement floor was concrete with stick on linoleum tiles. This provided a great base for building a floor. We didn’t need to change anything.
1.Lay down a moisture/vapor barrier if needed
In Minnesota it is a good idea to have a moisture or vapor barrier under your flooring in the basement. We have very humid summers and water might leak in when it rains. If there is the chance that water can seep in I would recommend laying this down before you start your floor. You don’t want to replace all your hard work if there is water damage. I just bought an inexpensive moisture barrier from Home depot. Then we laid it down over the whole floor and taped it down with the tape provided.
2. Cut the first layer of plywood
Fit one layer of plywood on your floor and cut to fit. You can use a lower grade plywood for this step.
3. Place foam pieces on the plywood
Place foam pieces about 12” apart in both directions on one side of the plywood. Flip the plywood over and line the pieces up to make the first layer of your floor.
4. Cut the second layer of plywood and lay in the opposite direction as the first layer
You will need a second layer of plywood that is placed in the opposite direction so that the seams don’t cave in. Having a second layer will provide stability. We also used a better quality grade of plywood for the top layer to have a smoother surface. You will need to then screw the two layers together. We placed our screws about 12” – 16” apart from each other. Make sure there are screws around the perimeter on each piece. Then use wood putty to fill in the screw holes and sand to make the surface smooth.
5. Lay down the vinyl floor.
This was much more difficult than I thought it would be. The timestep floor does have a stiffness to it. Because it is stiff if you bend it, it can rip. You have to be very careful that you keep it in a roll and not crease it. (I do have a small tear in my floor because of this but don’t tell anyone)
6. Tape the floor
To get the tape as straight as possible, have a friend help you. Again this is tricky. Go slow! Again I used Stagesteps tape.
Stagestep is great because they do have a really complete installation guide that goes into more detail than I just did. Make sure if you buy a floor from a specific company read all the directions so that your floor turns out great!
It took me a very long time to figure out what I wanted to do about mirrors in my space. Mirrors are expensive, they are heavy and they break easily! I spent a long time on Craigslist trying to find used mirrors but the process was more difficult than I realized. If you have a way to transport them yourself then that is a good way to go. However I would have had to rent a truck and then figure out a way to transport them without breaking and that process became just as expensive as buying new mirrors. I was able to find someone that was willing to bring me three large mirrors from an old fitness studio for $100 but he was not honest about their appearance which was a disappointment. I did use one on the side of my space and put the other two in our basement weight room. They had many scratches on them so not what I wanted in my final space.
Then I found the Mirror Company. This company sells new mirrors, delivers and installs them for you for less than other companies. The way they are able to do this is that they take your order then they wait until they have a few other orders en route to you and then they make one trip for several orders. Because they wait until the route makes sense financially for them this may take 4-6 weeks.
It actually didn’t take that long for my mirrors to arrive so that was nice. Two guys brought the mirrors down to my basement and installed them and they did a great job. For a bit extra they even installed one of my Craiglist mirrors as well. I am really happy with the final result.
The barres in my studio turned out very cute and I was surprised that they were not that difficult to make and install.
Of course you can buy barres already to install from various dance supply companies but the cost was much more than I wanted to spend.
After looking online for a bit I found materials that would fit my needs perfectly.
Home depot has unfinished round handrails that look just like ballet barres. I purchased a 12’ long piece that was 1 ¾” in diameter.
When you are dealing with unfinished wood you must stain and seal it. This was fairly new to me. I found a stain in a light golden color to match the wood stain that was already in my basement. I applied the stain and then after that dried I sealed it. I used two coats and gently sanded after each coat to make sure it was smooth.
Then I purchased four, 9 X 6.5 brushed nickel shelf brackets from Lowes. I found out that it is best to have the barre about 9-10” away from the wall in order for there to be room for stretching on or over the barre so these would work great. However with the limited space I had and since the space will be mainly used for videos I actually turned the brackets around so the 6.5” long side would be coming out from the wall attached to the barre.
How high your barre is from the floor depends on several factors and can be anywhere from 36” – 44” from the floor. I placed mine 40” from the floor since I am not very tall and if I do have students with me in my space they will be mostly under age 10.
Where to place the brackets is the next step. When placing them on a wall you will need to find out where your studs are and screw them into a stud. I cut my 12’ handrail into a 4’ piece and an 8’ piece. For stability it is best to have the brackets in 8” from either end of the 4’ piece and 16” from either end of the 8’ piece. After a bit of trial and error we found the best fit!
Decorating my home studio was the final step.
Completing Your Home Dance Studio
There were a few extras I chose to put in my home studio to make it complete. The finishing touches you decide to use in your studio will depend on what needs and wants you have. My studio will be mainly for producing videos for my youtube channel and website so I wanted to make it look pleasing for that purpose.
The color scheme was important to me. Being that I teach mostly children I wanted the space to feel friendly and inviting. My Wish Upon a Ballet™ logo is a shade of pink so it was important that the studio match my brand. When you want people to think of you and your business it is a good idea to keep your brand consistent.
First I needed a way to cover the window that would be in my videoing area. I tried to find a small curtain that would match my logo which was not easy. I ended up finding a curtain at Target that was too long however with my limited sewing machine skills I was able to shorten it to the length that was appropriate.
Target also had a matching storage bin that I couldn’t resist. It works great for storing my stuffed animals, scarves and magic wands.
Another issue that I needed to deal with was the back area of my basement. For classes and private lessons this would not be a big deal however for videos I did not need anyone seeing my messy desk and sofa.
In order to remedy this situation I purchased a room divider curtain from Room Dividers. The curtain works great to separate that portion of the basement if I want and open it when I need to access my desk. The curtain was easy to install with my husband’s help.
Finally the last piece of the puzzle was constructing my own folding screen. I wanted to be able to mask the doors in the corner of the room and also add a bit of color and fun! I painted one of the sides solid colors and the other side with a castle.
How to Make a Folding Screen
There are several ways to construct a folding screen. I found the following way is very affordable and easy.
First I purchased a 4’ x 8’ piece of MDF at Home Depot. I have heard other people use plywood, which is a good choice as well. I chose MDF however because it is smoother and you don’t have to deal with the wood grains.
Before I took the piece home I had Home Depot cut it for me. I wanted it cut lengthwise into three pieces however a piece of MDF is technically a bit wider than 4’ so my center piece is a bit thicker. I could have had them cut each piece the same width but it didn’t matter to me. Then I had them cut 2 feet of one end so my screen would be 6’ tall.
After a bit of research I found that I needed to prime the MDF. MDF can be easily broken down so you need to prime with a solvent based primer. Don’t use a water based primer because that can cause the MDF to swell. Make sure you are in a well ventilated space because the paint has a lot of fumes. I would also suggest using a spray paint version. Using a brush to paint on the MDF took a while because the paint is thick. I tried spray paint on one side and it was quicker and it covered better. The sides where I used a brush I needed two coats while the spray painted side only required one. It is suggested that you use two or three coats of primer however and sand in between but I didn’t want to spend that much time on this project.
After applying the primer it was time to paint! Because your MDF is sealed properly you can now use any type of paint you would like for your design. I just used regular acrylic paint. The solid sides were easy. The side with the castle took a bit more thought.
Even though I am in the arts the math side of my brain likes to take over when doing projects like this. Deciding how I wanted my castle laid out took more time than the actual painting. Once I decided where I wanted everything to be I used painters tape to make sure my lines were nice and straight.
Finding the right hinges was the last challenge. There are not many places that sell double action hinges for folding screens. I did find some on Amazon but luckily I also found them at an independent hardware store near me. My husband helped attach the hinges. We decided to have three on each side of the center piece to make sure the screen was secure.
And that’s it! It took a bit of time to put the screen together but I am very happy with the results. My only complaint is that the MDF is heavy so moving the screen around is a challenge.
It is nice to finally have a dance studio of my own! This was a long process with many hours spent but I couldn’t be happier with the end result! Everything is well constructed and secure! I have actually had my floor now for more than three years and it holds up great!
There have been several companies that I have mentioned in this article. I am not an affiliate for any of these companies and I am not receiving any compensation. I just want to let you know what worked for me!