Choosing the best home gym flooring

Because I work for a specialty flooring store, I am often asked which flooring is best for a home gym.  The answer depends on a few variables and I usually reply with a few questions of my own:

What will the home gym be used for primarily?  If you’re looking for a tough material to protect your concrete or hardwoods from being damaged by free weights or heavy exercise equipment, you may want to look at rubber.  Rubber is the traditional flooring for both home and commercial gyms and it is an economical solution for keeping your floors, as well as your equipment, protected.

However…

Rubber flooring is heavy.  By heavy, I mean REALLY heavy.  A square foot of 3/8″ rolled rubber weighs 2.3 lbs.  (8mm is slightly less)  That means to cover a 10×10 foot area, you’re dealing with a 230 lb roll of rubber.  “Well,” you say, “that’s not so bad.  A buddy and I could roll that baby out no problem.”  And maybe you’re right.  But here’s something else to consider:  the rolls show up at your front door on the back of a semi-truck.  If you get a liftgate included in your shipping costs (something to consider) they will lower the roll of rubber to the ground and drive away leaving you to wrestle it into your workout area.  If you don’t get a liftgate, you will have to pull that baby off the truck yourself and that’s a serious endeavor.

Another option is interlocking rubber tiles.  These come in various sizes (typically 2×2 foot or 3×3 foot) and can be installed without adhesive of any kind.  Depending on the type you buy, you can find them at a reasonable price, although generally more expensive than rolled, and they are much easier to handle.  Also, the fact that they require no glue makes it easy for you to bring them with you if you decide to move.

 However….

RUBBER IS NOT WATERPROOF.  Many people are under the impression that rubber is like plastic.  That it can be submerged indefinitely in a flooded basement and come out unscathed.  This is simply not the case.  The porous materials of most rubber flooring will absorb water and hold it.  Over time, this will break the rubber flooring down to such a degree that the floor is rendered all but useless.

If you are considering putting your home gym in a basement that gets mildly damp on occasion, this will probably not be an issue for you and rubber flooring may be your best bet.  If you’re considering putting your home gym in a wet basement that floods from time to time, you may be better served with a waterproof option  such as plastic, modular floor tiles that allow airflow beneath the tiles for a quicker dry.

Do you plan to do aerobic activities in your home gym area?  Zumba, P90x, or Insanity?  If so, you probably don’t want rubber.  Rubber is quite hard and provides little to no fatigue-relief.  If you’re looking for a flooring type to keep your teeth from chattering every time you jump up and down, you need something else.  I typically suggest foam.

Foam flooring is available in various densities and thicknesses.  The play mats that kids play cars on and the MMA mats that fighters throw one another around on are not the same.  Determining which type of foam product is best for your needs depends on what specifically you’ll be using it for.

Unlike rubber, foam is waterproof and can be submerged indefinitely without the foam taking in water and damaging the foam itself.  It provides great shock absorption, requires no glues for installation, and it’s lightweight.  It can be easily installed wall-to-wall because all you need to cut the interlocking tiles to fit is a straight edge and a utility knife.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  However, under some equipment, foam will indent and stay indented for the life of the product.  If you can live with that, foam is generally your best bet.  It is inexpensive and, because it is so lightweight, is typically fairly cheap to ship.

Hopefully, this gives you some insight into what you’re looking for.  The easiest and fastest way to get your specific questions answered is to call one of our customer service reps and have a conversation.

Call Greatmats at 877-822-6622.

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