Studio casters and wood floor

Q: I plan on having 3/4″ wood (oak?) floors refinished, probably with 3 coats of water based poly. Some of these rooms will be used as video editing suites and will house tall equipment racks on casters with a moderately heavy load. The nominal dimensions of the racks are 21″ x 30″ x 7′ tall, each weighing between 150-250 lbs.

Once placed, the racks will rarely, if ever, be moved. So, removing the casters is one option to spread the weight out over the entire base of the equipment rack – rather than focus it on the caster contact points.

How long should I let the poly cure before I move the equipment into the rooms, and what should I place beneath the racks to protect the floors from the weight, and the finish too?

Should I place a rubber mat under each? Or, would a thin plywood sheet the size of the rack base with felt on the underside be better?

A: How long you wait depends on the finish used. Why wouldn’t felt pads work?

Follow-up Q: I am considering using Bona Traffic as the finish, which according to the specs cures in approximately 7 days. I definitely want to be sure it’s cured before I place concentrated weight on it.

I am concerned that the weight of the racks, and the equipment they contain, concentrated and transferred through the four casters might possibly deform the wood floor over time. My thinking was that by placing something under the racks to disperse the weight there would be less potential for compression damage to the floor. In your experience am I being overly concerned?

A: I would say that it doesn’t matter how hard a finish is. If a lot of weight is applied to a small, concentrated area (say, for example, the end of a spiked heel shoe) the wood itself will dent. Perhaps, when the floor finish is fully cured, you could place one of those clear “desk mats” under your racks. There are 2 types: one for carpets, which has little nibs to hold it in place and one for hard surfaces, without those nibs.