Gym flooring is necessary but expensive. Are there any alternatives that are just as good but cheaper? There are a few good options. Here’s what you want to know.
Stall mats over plywood is the best alternative to ‘real’ gym flooring. There are some downsides to that combination but it is cheaper that gym flooring although if the difference in price is worth it to you is a personal decision. Rubber Patio tiles are good for small areas.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these alternatives below.
Gym Flooring Alternatives
There is dedicated gym flooring that is made for the purpose and marketed as such. While it’s not super expensive, it’s always nice if you can save some money. Are there any cheaper options you could use instead?
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1. Stall mats
A very popular alternative to gym flooring is stall mats. Stall mats are used in horse stables and dog kennels. They have many of the same properties as gym flooring but in the end they’re designed to be flooring for large animals. There are a few pros and cons to using stall mats as gym flooring.
- Good impact resistance
- Slip resistant
- Easy to clean
- Made of recycled plastic that can smell really bad.
- Not as thick as gym flooring (depending on the gym flooring) so less effective at protection
- Quality and consistency not as good as gym flooring.
The biggest drawback of stall mats is the smell. Since the quality isn’t very consistent, the amount of smell differs between mats as well. You won’t know what you’re going to get until you receive them.
Stall mats can certainly work if you’re able to put up with the smell and less protective properties. You’ll be able to save a few bucks and still have an effective floor. Stall mats are the most effective substitute you’re going to find for gym flooring. I have noticed the prices of stall mats and gym flooring getting closer together though. So double check if they’re actually cheaper.
Simple slabs of plywood are often used as a cheap replacement for a weightlifting platform. Plywood is a bit softer than concrete so it certainly provides a buffer between the weights and you floor. It does work to some degree and is cheap but can break down pretty quickly. Once it starts breaking down you have a possibility for getting splinters. That’s not really what you want from a gym floor.
The solution to this is to put stall mats on top. This also helps the stall mats create some extra protection. A lot of people use this combination without problems and it seems to work great for them. The only time when it’s possibly not enough protection is if you drop heavy weights from overhead. The speed the weight gains when you drop from that height gives it so much impact force that is difficult to protect against.
3. Patio tiles
A weird outlier is patio flooring. There is a wide range of patio flooring available. Not all of them are suitable as gym flooring but some types are actually pretty good alternative flooring options.
The rubber tiles made from so called SBR granules. This type of rubber tile is often used for patios and sometimes even kids playgrounds. They’re very strong, pretty thick and very impact resistant. The high weight makes them stay in place pretty well and they provide good grip.
The only drawback would be the ease of cleaning. Sure you can take a pressure washer to them but that doesn’t really end all that well if your gym inside. And while it does some noise and vibration damping, it’s not the most effective at it.
Are Gym Flooring Alternatives Any Good?
Yes, it’s possible to find solutions that are cheaper than real gym flooring. They won’t do everything that gym flooring does at the same time however. They will do different things well and a combination of the different alternatives can actually create a floor that is really effective.
Stall mats with rubber patio tiles underneath is a great combination that’s really strong, durable and still provides protection, noise damping and makes it easy to clean. The problem is that the total price might not actually be too far off the price of actual gym flooring.
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