Studio Owners

For Your Studio Floor: Shower Pan Lining as a Cheap Alternative to Marley? Don't Do It


It's a question that often pops up online in dance teacher forums where studio owners look for creative ways to save money. It may sound tempting to try shower pan lining as vinyl flooring—it's PVC, just like marley, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple—PVC products are not all created equal.

Shower pan lining has a warning printed on it, as mandated by California legislation (Proposition 65) for products that contain certain hazardous chemicals. In this case, DEHP is a widely used plasticizer and a component of many household items, including tablecloths, floor tiles, shower curtains, garden hoses and medical tubing. It is a known carcinogen and has been banned from children's toys, because it can be absorbed through the mouth and skin.

Tom Stewart, a technical support specialist for Oatey, a shower pan liner manufacturer, says shower pan liner "is normally installed between two mortar beds and provides a water barrier to the substrate below it. Under normal usage, any exposure should be much lower than applicable OSHA guidelines because the amount of DEHP is minute."

But when shower pan liner is used as a dance floor, all bets are off. It can deteriorate when it is exposed to the air, causing shrinking or warping, and it can be difficult to anticipate how the liner will react to temperature changes, cleaning solutions or rosin. There is no manufacturer guarantee if something goes wrong with the product, and the studio could be liable if students or staff were to develop health issues related to long-term DEHP exposure.

Marley, on the other hand, comes with much less risk. It typically does not contain a printed warning about toxicity and incorporates multiple layers, such as closed cell-foam backing, woven mineral fiber reinforcement or fiberglass. A thin top layer may have UV light protection to prevent sun damage and to give performers slip resistance. Dance flooring companies often work with installers who are product experts and who can provide professional flooring installation that is guaranteed for the life of the studio.

"Shower pan liner is designed to be effective for a very specific use, and it is not as a dance floor," says Randy Swartz, president of Stagestep. "Your studio flooring is a long-term investment and the most important investment you can make."

Rana's Dance Floor

Home Marley Dance Floor Options for Over Concrete or Carpet - Greatmats

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.