Outdoor Flooring Part 4: 1-inch Flooring Vs. 2-inch Flooring: What’s the Right Choice?

UAVs in a shelter with Bike Track flooring

Our “outdoor flooring journey” reaches its last stop in this fourth post in our four-post series. To get up to speed, we recommend you check out the following three articles:

Part 1: Why Would You Need Flooring for a Tent, Anyway?
Part 2: So You Need a Hard Floor for Your Tent. What Material Suits Your Job?
Part 3: Plastic Flooring—Choosing Among Durability, Speed and Security of Connection

Whether you are setting up event tents, a military field hospital or a temporary base for a medical relief effort, you need to choose your modular flooring carefully. Which thickness is right for your application? Today’s analysis can help you save money, time and effort.

First, Clarify Your Needs

At Bike Track, we have two basic product profiles: of our three flooring products, two are 2-inch, and one is 1-inch.

Before we recommend any product, we first look at the big picture. What are you doing, and why? Is your use military or civilian? What is your budget? What are your transportation constraints?

There are two key categories to look at:

1. Intended use
2. Logistics (e.g. price, storage space, transport)

2-Inch ICM Flooring

The 2-inch ICM (Integrated Cable Management) Flooring has a very specific use. You only need it if you have wires or cables or air/water lines that you must string and manage.

A Soldier puts Ethernet cables in the cable trays of Bike Track 2-inch ICM flooring
Bike Track’s 2-inch ICM is a highly-specialized product; you only need to consider it if you have a high density of wires or cables you’re trying to manage. (Photo Credit: 3rd Infantry Division Artillery)

Our military clients often opt for the 2-inch ICM. For humanitarian relief, special events or commercial applications, we don’t find it to be as big a draw, because these clients generally do not need that many wires/cables, and the density does not come close to what you find in a military operations center—which is often stuffed to the brim with tables of computers, Ethernet connections, phones, etc.

Wires and cables in a Bike Track 2-inch ICM cable tray
Bike Track’s 2-inch ICM is specifically designed for situations with a high density of wires and cables. (Bike Track, Inc. photo)

In other words, if you just need a few power cords or air/water lines, you probably do not need the 2-inch ICM. If you are looking at a significant density of wired equipment, however, it is likely the right solution.

Plain Flooring vs. the ICM?

You should opt for plain portable flooring over the ICM if you do not have a lot of wires and if you are looking for a firm, stable platform for inside your tent or to support your tent or a walkway.

Do You Need Our 1-Inch or 2-Inch Plain Flooring?

To answer this question, we need to look at several parameters:

Intended Use

The 1-inch solution is probably more appropriate if:

• The ground is firm: there is limited chance of the floor sinking.
• There is not a lot of mud—for instance, you are building on a parking lot or hard packed stone or dirt.
• There is not much water/rain expected (e.g. you are setting up in a desert in the dry season).

Bike Track 1-inch flooring connecting two tents in a desert
Our 1-inch flooring is best used when the ground is relatively firm and there’s not much precipitation expected. (Bike Track, Inc. photo)

The 2-inch solution is generally superior if:

• You need to get further off the ground for some reason.
• The ground is muddy.
• There is a high likelihood of rain or snow.
• There is a chance the flooring could sink in.

Soldiers having a conversation outside of a UAV shelter with Bike Track 2-inch flooring
Our 2-inch flooring is a good choice when you need to get higher up off the ground or if the ground is particularly wet or muddy. (Bike Track, Inc. photo)

Weight Capacity–Ground Pressure

When considering weight, ground pressure—in other words, how much force is applied per unit of ground—is what matters. So things like tire size and quantity are key factors. For example, an M1A2 Abrams tank weighs approximately 72 tons (144,000 pounds), but because that force gets distributed over all the tracks in contact with the ground, the tank only exerts approximately 2,160 pounds per square foot of ground pressure. On the other hand, a 1,250-pound horse standing still exerts approximately 3,600 pounds per square foot of ground pressure—66% more than the tank!

Royal Marines using snowshoes
By spreading their weight over a greater area (i.e. reducing the ground pressure), these Royal Marines are able to use snowshoes to walk on top of the snow, rather than sinking in. (Photo Credit: Tales From The Supply Depot)

So what does this mean when it comes to choosing a type of Bike Track flooring? The honest answer is: you probably don’t have to worry about it. Given a solid subsurface and a static load, our 2-Inch Flooring can withstand up to 47,500 pounds per square foot, while our 1-Inch is rated up to 80,000 pounds per square foot. So unless you have an extreme amount of weight being concentrated over a very small section of ground (called a “point load”—think an elephant doing a headstand, with all of its weight supported by the tip of its trunk), any Bike Track product should be able to do the job.

A semi with a bulldozer on a trailer on top of Bike Track flooring
This semi towing an Army bulldozer over Bike Track 2-inch ICM didn’t damage the flooring at all. Although the combined weight was heavy (over 100,000 lbs), the ground pressure exerted was well within Bike Track’s limits. (Bike Track, Inc. photo)

But what if you’re worried about point load applications, such as jacking up a vehicle for maintenance? Instead of spreading your vehicle’s weight evenly spread over four (or more) big tires, what if you concentrated it all on the jack-stand? Now we have a more complicated formula. Now things like the diameter of the jack-stand and the firmness of the subsurface come into play. In these instances, we recommend placing a supporting plate underneath the jack-stand prior to applying the load. You do this to spread the weight across multiple ribs of the flooring, thereby decreasing the ground pressure.

Type of Ground

If you are building over rolling ground or undulating terrain and do not need a flat surface, the 1-inch is best. It is more flexible, and it will bend and conform to the ground.

If you need, for instance, to turn a pitted field into something flat, go with the 2-inch—a much more rigid product. However even the 2-inch will not span large ditches and gullies. But it is firmer than the-1 inch.

A semi drives over Bike Track 2-inch flooring on a slope
Notice in the foreground of this picture how you can see the ground slope a bit underneath the Bike Track 2-inch ICM. The 2-inch conforms to this slope to a small extent due to its rigidity; with the 1-inch it would be much more noticeable. (Bike Track, Inc. photo)

Irrespective of your choice, you will still need to get all big rocks and mountains of dirt out of your way—work you would have to do with any portable flooring. You will not need a commercial grade grader with a mechanical leveler. But you will need to clear big plants and make the ground relatively level, so the flooring has a fighting chance.

Logistics

1-inch flooring stores and ships in half the cubic volume that 2-inch does. When we ship it on a pallet, you get 32 sheets of 2-inch or 64 sheets of 1-inch. In other words, you can get twice as much 1-inch on the same pallet.

Two pallets of Bike Track flooring
A pallet of Bike Track 1-inch flooring contains 64 sheets (left pallet), while a pallet of 2-inch contains 32 sheets (at right, behind the front pallet). (Bike Track, Inc. photo)

When and how does this fact matter? The Marines for example, tend to have more limited storage and shipping capacity on boats than the Army does. So the 1-inch tends to be more popular in the Marine Corps for that reason—they can pack away twice as much flooring. If cubic volume is a driving factor for you, the 1 inch is the cheapest and most shipping-friendly option.

Longevity

Both types can withstand tons of punishment and last 15+ years. They are both up for the challenge!

Conclusion

In these past four blog posts , we have covered everything (hopefully!) you need to know to choose the right outdoor flooring for the job. To recap:

• In Part One, we explored your three basic portable flooring options—do nothing (no floor); use a fabric floor; or opt for a hard floor.
• In Part Two, we offered a side-by-side comparison of the three most common hard floor materials for tents—plywood, concrete and plastic.
• In Part Three, we did a deep dive into the plastic option and examined the three key elements of all plastic flooring solutions: durability, speed and security of connection.
• Finally, in Part Four, we took you on a tour of Bike Track plastic flooring solutions and discussed when and how (in general) to use our products to solve problems.

We hope this review was helpful!

Our team is standing by to answer your questions and help you make the best modular flooring choice for your needs. Call 888-663-8537, send us an e-mail, or simply type your question in the chat box; we’d love to talk with you!



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