Can you just build your home gym on top of the carpet that’s already in the room? Or do you have to find another solution? I found out what you can do best?
Putting gym equipment directly on carpet is not advisable. Having some kind of gym flooring underneath is always a good idea. Gym flooring can be put directly on top of short pile carpet. High pile carpet is too soft and requires an extra layer of plywood between it and the gym flooring.
There are some details you should know that aren’t covered in that short answer. Keep reading to make sure you don’t make any mistakes that could be dangerous.
Just looking for good gym flooring? Click here to find my recommendations.
Home gym directly on carpet
You have carpet in the room you intend to use as a home gym. Now you’re wondering why you should bother taking it out and putting in other flooring just build the gym on carpet. Carpet is soft and it dampens noises. The same things a gym floor is supposed to do. Let’s go over some general pros and cons of having a gym directly on your carpet.
There are of course many different types of carpet. We’ll go over the differences and what it means for your gym below the general pros and cons.
Why would you do it? What are the good parts of lifting weights directly on the carpet? There are a few good reasons for just leaving the carpet as it is.
- Easy. You don’t have to do anything if it’s already there. No ripping out old carpet and no putting down other flooring. Using whatever is there, requires no effort
- Cheap. Not only do you not have to do anything, you also don’t have to buy anything new. Otherwise you would have bought some gym flooring or stall mats.
- Protection. It protects your equipment from damage just like gym flooring would. Dropping weights on a concrete floor would cause damage to either floor or equipment over time. Carpet does a good job of protecting both. Want to find more information about protecting your floor? Click here.
- Noise damping. Carpet also does a good job of damping the typical gym noises. Dropping weights on a hard floor can create a mighty racket. With soft carpet you have a bit of a cushion. Suggested post: Noise damping for you home gym.
- It looks nice. Gym flooring or even bare concrete are not the most beautiful surfaces to look at. Having carpet in your home gym will definitely create a better looking and feeling gym.
There are a few benefits to just leaving your carpet in your home gym and putting everything on top. There are a few problems as well. Let’s go over them.
- Damages the carpet. Putting heavy equipment and dropping weights on your carpet will wear it over time. Flat spots that won’t come back up or even holes are real possibilities.
- Stability. Carpet has some squish. How much depends on your carpet and what’s under it. This can cause you to feel some instability. That’s not a great feeling during heavy lifting. Essentially you have to use the first bit of your strength to compress everything under your feet. The harder the surface under your feet, the more force you can transfer.
- Grip. Depending on the type of carpet, it might not provide the grip you need. When walking like normal, it’s likely not a problem. But with a heavy bar on your back for squats, you really want to be sure your feet aren’t moving anywhere you don’t want them to.
- Hygiene. Exercising causes you to sweat. Or at least it should if you do it right. Some sweat will be caught in your clothes but it’s inevitable to drop some on the floor. Carpet will absorb your sweat no problem. The problem is that it won’t come out easily. This can cause nasty smells and stains. Even mold could start forming if you’re a heavy sweater.
- If you want to anchor your power rack, you’d have to drill through the carpet. It’s not difficult but will leave a hole.
- Uneven. It’s closely related to stability. An uneven surface is not good for lifting heavy weight. Some carpets, especially higher ones can feel uneven under your feet.
Types of carpet and the differences for your gym
What kind of carpet you have can also impact if it’s ok to build your gym on top. There are two things that are important.
- Pile length. The ‘higher’ a carpet, the worse the cons listed above. It gets dirtier often has less grip and more ‘squish’. A carpet with shorter pile would be more suitable since the cons are less of an issue although they are still applicable.
- Underlay. Most carpets will have some kind of soft foam layer under it. This exaggerates the ‘squishiness’ of the carpet. A short pile carpet without any underlay could be a decent stand in for a real gym floor. A high pile carpet with very soft foam under it isn’t going to be great for heavy lifting.
Are there any ways we can solve the problems that come with using carpet as a gym floor? There are some ways to solve the problems. Some only solve half the problem while other solutions bring their own troubles. Let’s take a look at them.
- Plywood. Put a plywood slab under your squat rack and the area you use to lift. Plywood is cheap and can create a more stable surface. If you put your power rack on it, it will compress the carpet underneath already so you have less squish. Plywood also has a reasonable amount of grip. It might splinter if you drop your weights often however. It’s also easier to clean sweat from plywood than out of a carpet.
- Rip out your carpet. If you don’t care about it, you can just take it out of your home gym. In some cases it can be possible to take it out carefully without damaging it. This way you could put it back later. The problem is that you usually don’t know if your carpet is easy to take out before you actually do it.
- Stall mats are often used as a cheap alternative for gym flooring. This might not be too great to put on top of carpet for two reasons. If they are used, they smell bad and that smell will seep into your carpet. The other reason is that they might stain your carpet since they’re black rubber.
- Interlocking gym flooring tiles are not the best option since they don’t really provide a stable floor if the carpet under it is too soft. Some rubber mats can also slide around on some types of carpet. This is dangerous.
In the end, you can use carpet as gym flooring, provided it’s not too thick and squishy so it provides a stable base to lift off of. Thin, short pile carpets without a foam layer underneath will do the job fine. A thick, soft carpet with thick foam underlay is not optimal. There are some options to negate the problems that using carpet brings of which using a plywood slab on top of the carpet is the best.
Gym flooring over carpet
Maybe at this point you’ve decided that you’d like to have a proper gym floor instead of carpet. But you’d still prefer to leave the carpet in so you can use it later. What can you do? Is it possible to just add the gym flooring on top of the carpet? Let’s find out.
What are some of the benefits of putting gym flooring over your carpet instead of just using it?
- You can protect your carpet if you do it right. If you just use carpet for lifting, over time you’ll wear holes in it.
- More grip. Gym flooring is designed to provide grip while doing any kind of exercise. This is what you want. Having your leg slip away while holding a heavy weight can be very dangerous. Gym flooring prevents this.
- Hygiene. Gym flooring is made to be easy to clean. Just clean it with some soap and water. Easy. Think about what it takes to clean a carpet. You need special equipment and even then it’s questionable how clean it will get.
- Even surface. Gym flooring when put down correctly provides an even surface. This is safer and more comfortable than an uneven surface that carpet could provide.
- Gym flooring usually has a little ‘give’. Add that to the squish that carpet and underlay have and it might be too much. It’s better to go for a harder floor if this is the case for you.
- Rubber flooring might leave stains on the carpet underneath defeating part of the purpose
- It’s not free. Just using the carpet is cheaper in the beginning. However, replacing carpet is likely more expensive than getting some cheap gym flooring.
Best type of gym flooring on carpet
So what would be the best type of gym flooring you could put on top of carpet? Not everything is suitable for this purpose. I’m going to take into account some options that might not be traditionally seen or made as gym flooring. In the end gym flooring has to do a few things;
- Protect your equipment
- Protect your flooring
- Dampen noise
- Provide grip
- Provide an even surface
As you can see that’s why soft carpet is not the best option to work out on. If you’ve got thick carpet that has a lot of ‘squish’, putting a rubber floor on top of that won’t really make things much better. Think about lifting weights on a trampoline. That’s not a good base to lift on.
If you have a carpet that shorter and harder a rubber floor could be a good option. Stall mats are an option but new they’re not much cheaper than gym flooring and used they will smell pretty bad.
For thick shaggy carpets, plywood is a good option. It’s hard but a little flexible. The soft carpet underneath will have a little bit of give to protect your equipment but not too much. Plywood might start to disintegrate a little if you drop heavy weights on it for an extended period of time. But, it’s easy and cheap to replace. Just be careful with splinters.
The best option is to get a dedicated weightlifting platform. These are stiff pieces of wood or metal with rubber plates to protect both. The stiffness will help create a stable base that doesn’t move and doesn’t slip. They are also the most expensive option.
In general, putting gym flooring or similar solution on top of your carpet is better than to just use the carpet. The best solution would be to take out the carpet and put the gym flooring on top of the concrete floor but if that’s not an option, gym flooring on top or carpet is a good option. Make sure to pick the right one however.
Type of exercise and carpet
What works doesn’t only depend on the type of flooring you have. It also depends on what you’re doing. Let’s take a look at some popular lifts and pieces of equipment to see how big of an impact the flooring has.
The deadlift is one of the best lifts ever. It’s also really popular and many people with a home gym will want to be able to do this. Does deadlifting on carpet work? If it’s hard and low pile, it can work quite well. You want to make sure you have plenty of grip and an even surface to stand on for safety. Soft carpets with soft underlay might be good for protecting your weights and noise damping but it’s not great for lifting heavy weights.
Think about standing on a trampoline. If you’d dead lift while standing on a trampoline you have to push yourself down first before you actually lift the bar. Something similar happens when you’re lifting on a soft surface.
Squats are done heavy. That means if something goes wrong the damage to your body could be pretty bad. If your carpet is the slightest bit slippery, you have to be very careful and should take some precautions. The squish factor is another problem similar to the deadlift. With the squat, the weight is up higher so it’s even more important to have a stable and even surface to stand on. Instability during a squat is harder to recover from than during a deadlift.
Since the overhead press isn’t loaded up as heavily as the other two, it’s less of a concern what you’re standing on. Although you’ll run into the same problems as with the other two lifts. The transfer of force to the floor isn’t as efficient as it could be if you’re on soft carpet. This will ultimately cause you to be able to lift less weight.
Stretching is an important part of any workout routine. Stability isn’t as important as with the other lifts. The carpet is probably even more comfortable than gym flooring during stretching. The only drawback could be the hygiene. While stretching you’ll have a lot of contact with the floor. That means a big part of your sweat will transfer to the capret.
A power rack has to be stable. I don’t want to feel it moving when I rack or unrack any weight. If the surface it stands on is too soft it might move a little bit. Although over time it will ‘sink’ and the movements will be reduced. Once that happens it will leave some marks on your carpet though.
The leg press machine doesn’t really care about what it stands on as long as it can hold the weight. They’re heavy machines and often loaded with heavy weights. They’re not moving anywhere. You’re also not standing on the floor while using this machine.
The only drawback to placing it on top of carpet is that it will leave indentations that might not go away. A heavy wardrobe or bookcase will do this too but a leg press machine is often further away from the wall which makes the indents more visible.
Are stall mats good gym flooring? Yes, stall mats are perfectly fine to use as gym flooring. They are of a similar thickness and material as traditional rubber gym flooring. If they’re used, stall mats can smell bad for quite a while although this smell will dissipate over time. They provide good grip and are easy to clean.
Can you prevent gym mats from slipping on wooden floors? Well designed and built exercise mats will provide enough grip on wooden floors not to slip. If your mats do move around, you can install some no-skid rug backing on your mat. This might impact the flexibility of your mat however.
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