Please help me with ideas for making a running deck for my treadmill. They only last a couple seasons before they develop a length-wise crack on the bottom. This eventually leads to deformities in the top surface which causes friction with the belt, which causes overheating of the motor and excessive wear on the belt.
Treadmill decks (I've learned) are made from "MDF" or "medium density fibreboard", but I'm not sure what the slick material is on the surface that contacts the belt. You can get a sheet of MDF from home depot for about $30 which is enough material for 3 decks for a treadmill my size 48"x27". Trouble is, there is not a slick surface on it, so I need to find one to adhere to the top or just lay on top. I've seen formica (placed bottom up) suggested as a material to use. I have an old shower stall with a flat section that is big enough to cover the whole deck, but I'm not sure if it would hold up. Then there's this stuff called "melamine" that home depot has, which just looks like particle board with a smooth coating.
They say the reason MDF is used is because it doesn't expand or contract like hardwood which would cause problems on the treadmill frame. It is supposed to be strong stuff, but it doesn't seem to hold up as a treadmill deck. So I wondered what could be placed under it to compensate for the tension force of a footstrike. I thought of putting some sheet metal underneath for support. I don't know if it would do any good, and if it would help, should it be a full sheet completely supporting the deck or would a few straps lain width-wise be sufficient.
Has anyone tried this? What worked/didn't work for you? Any ideas would be nice. Thanks.