Home Gym Flooring
Protect Your Floor & Your Gym Equipment
Depending on where you are setting up your gym, you may require some form of flooring. Gym equipment is heavy and made from steel so it can damage certain floor surfaces. Secondly, certain styles of weight training will bring barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells etc in contact with the floor. Due to the nature of the exercise or fatigue, this contact may not be controlled. This can not only damage the floor, but lead to excessive wear and tear to your gym equipment.
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When do I Need Gym Flooring?
If you are setting your gym up indoors, and you have a floor that you would like to protect, then I would recommend going with rubber gym tiles. Even if your gym equipment has rubber feet and you train with weights in a precise and controlled fashion, there is still the possibility of dropping a weight plate or dumbbell. This could be a disaster on polished wood floors in a rented house!
Another issue that arises when training indoors is noise. Once again rubber tiles are an excellent solution to this problem as they reduce noise if you have barbells or dumbbells on the ground.
If you are training in a garage gym which has a concrete floor you don’t really need to have any flooring. Most of the power racks and multi gyms these days have rubber feet which will protect the steel from marking the floor.
I never really recommend dropping dumbbells, so why should you waste your money? Well, you might need a couple of rubber floor mats if you plan on doing some deadlifts or Olympic lifts. This combined with some Olympic bumper plates will not only protect your floor plus also your barbell.
Even though it sometimes not necessary for domestic use, people do splash out and lay down gym flooring. For a home gym, it really gives the home gym a true professional look. So if you want to make a statement, by all means go ahead and have a gym that you can be really proud of.
For commercial gyms, some form of rubber flooring is almost mandatory. Hearing some of the stories that I have heard from gym owners, gym members can really do some crazy things with gym equipment. Dumbbells and barbells get thrown around without a care in the world. Even with rubber flooring the equipment breaks eventually, without flooring you would go broke replacing damaged items.
Choosing the Right Flooring
Rubber is nearly always the best for a gym floor given that the main purpose is protection of the floor. But getting the right rubber product is critical. The most common issue with rubber tiles is odour – cheap ones can really stink!! Therefore it is important to get ones that are low odour. All rubber products have a bit of smell when they are freshly laid, but over time the smell will go. So, try and get some air circulating in the room when you first lay them.
Density is important for two reasons. Firstly, you need a dense rubber product to protect the floor when gym equipment impacts the floor. You will see the cheap ones have large shredded granule’s. These not only have inferior shock absorption properties, but they also tend to suffer from wear and tear. The granules aren’t bonded well enough.
What you are looking for are nice, fine granules packed closely together. When you bend the rubber mat or roll there is no splitting.
Secondly density is important from a weight perspective. The denser the rubber tile, the heavier it will be. Weight will keep the mat in place better than lighter mats. If your flooring is not butted firmly up against walls, the mats will move around and you will get big gaps if the mats don’t have enough weight.
Rubber flooring products are often sold with a coloured fleck. Nearly all rubber tiles are black. When small particles are dropped on the mat they stand out. A coloured fleck will camouflage the dirt or debris.
Foam tiles are often cheaper than rubber ones. These cheap foam tiles might be good in a child’s play area in a rumpus room, but they are not suitable for a gym. The gym equipment is heavy so it will compress the foam easily. The result is that often certain pieces like multi gyms or power racks can become quite unstable. Plus the foam doesn’t stand up too well to heavy traffic.
Foam tiles are suitable for areas where martial arts or wrestling are performed. But steer away from cheap ones. Choose a product that has been specifically designed for such activities.
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Installing Your Rubber Mats
The best advice I can give you when laying your gym floor is to take your time. When you have two adjoining sides that don’t contact with walls it is an easy job. But when you want to go wall to wall and your room is not to the exact metre you have got some cutting to do! If it is angled, you have got some measuring to do too!
Cutting the mats is relatively easy. You just need a straight edge and a sharp Stanley knife blade or three. Just score the surface with your initial cut making sure the cut is straight. Then just make multiple cuts going a little deeper each time.
The reason I am discussing maintenance is because this is a factor when determining whether you need gym flooring. If your gym is in a shed which is accessed by unsealed paths, or your gym is open to the elements I would strongly advise against rubber gym tiles if you have a concrete floor.
Your fresh, shiny black gym tiles will soon go a dusty grey as the footprints and dirt accumulate on the surface. In an indoor environment rubber mats are easy to keep clean. Just give them a sweep or a vacuum to keep them clean. If there is a lot of sweat then get on your hands and knees with a mild detergent and give them a clean.
But if your gym is in a dusty/dirty environment give rubber gym tiles a miss. Sweeping a concrete floor is a lot easier than rubber tiles!