When buying a treadmill, you’ll likely see treadmill mats for sale as well. Do you really need a treadmill mat? What do they do and when do you need one? Let’s find out.
A treadmill mat is always good to have under your treadmill unless you’ve already got rubber gym flooring in place. Treadmill mats reduce noise, protect your floor, prevent dust from getting into the moving parts and prevent the treadmill from sliding around. This increases comfort and lifespan.
Let’s dive into the details of who, why and when a treadmill mat is necessary.
- 1 What does a treadmill mat do?
- 2 Are all treadmill mats the same?
- 3 When do you need a treadmill mat?
- 4 When don’t you need a treadmill mat?
What does a treadmill mat do?
A treadmill mat is a rubber or PVC mat you place under your treadmill.
It’s not a complicated piece of equipment but chances are you want one if you’ve got a treadmill. To see if you need a treadmill mat, we need to know what a treadmill mat does.
Here are the 7 things a mat under your treadmill does;
- Protect your flooring
- Dampen noise and vibrations
- Prevent dust and dirt from getting in
- Providing a stable base
- Prevent the treadmill from moving around
- Make the area easy to clean
Let’s take a deeper look at these benefits.
Protect your flooring
Treadmills are heavy machines even without anyone on it. That weight is not a problem for most types of flooring. However, when you run on a treadmill, there are continuous impacts that vibrate the machine. Those vibrations go to the floor through the feet of the treadmill. The weight combined with the vibrations cause a rubbing that can wear your flooring over time.
The weight also indents many types of flooring although most types will bounce back once you take the weight off.
A treadmill mat spreads out the weight over a larger area. It spreads out the load that would otherwise go through the relatively small feet through a much larger area. Also, the mat absorbs a lot of the impact and vibrations that running on a treadmill cause. This combination means your flooring is under much less stress and will be perfectly fine after removing the treadmill.
Dampen noise and vibrations
Treadmill mats are usually made of heavy rubber or PVC. This helps a lot to absorb the vibrations a treadmill creates when you run on it.
Running on a treadmill creates rhythmic impacts as well as a humming from the motor and belt. How loud the humming this is depends on the quality of the treadmill and how well it’s been maintained. The impacts are a different story though. A good treadmill will absorb some of the impact in the deck but not all since then it would feel like you’re running on a waterbed. Those impacts and vibrations are transferred through the feet of the treadmill into the floor. When it vibrates the floor, it will be very audible for your neighbors.
Rubber is great at absorbing vibrations so having a rubber mat under your treadmill will greatly reduce the amount of noise your neighbors hear. It’s hard to completely eliminate the vibrations but a treadmill mat provides a good amount of reduction.
A treadmill mat will reduce a little bit of the noise inside the room but mostly prevents noise and vibrations in neighboring spaces.
Prevent dust and dirt from getting in
Dirt, dust and moving parts are never a good combination. Treadmills do have quite a few moving parts where dust and dirt can get in.
Rollers, bearings, pivot parts for the incline and the motor are all moving parts that can be negatively impacted by too much dust. It will reduce the lifespan of the parts and make it less smooth to use. Also, dust buildup can cause the motor to overheat quicker.
This is especially a risk if your treadmill is on a surface that can release a lot of dust with vibration like carpet. Also, if your treadmill is in an environment with more dust and dirt than normal (like a garage or basement), a treadmill mat will help keeping particles out.
Treadmill mats are much easier to keep dust free than a concrete or carpet floor. Also, the mat provides a bit of a ledge that provides a bit of a dam for dust that blows around. Combine this with regular cleaning, maintenance and maybe even a cover over your treadmill will keep most of the dust out.
Of course over time you’ll still want to clean out the machine carefully to prevent too much buildup but a treadmill mat help extend the time the treadmill stays clean.
Make the area easy to clean
Running on a treadmill makes you sweat. Most of that sweat will end up on the treadmill but some might get on the area around the treadmill as well. Most types of flooring aren’t made to deal with sweat or any liquid for that matter. It can degrade the material quickly.
So to prevent sweat from getting into your flooring, a treadmill mat that’s a little larger than the outside dimensions of the treadmill, this will help a lot.
Treadmill mats are non-absorbent so it’s very easy to clean off any liquid. That makes treadmill mats easy to clean in general. Just a damp cloth with a mild detergent will take care of anything. And keeping it clean is a good idea to prevent dust entering the treadmill even more.
If your treadmill has an incline setting, use that to be able to clean under the deck.
Prevent the treadmill from moving around
The impact of running on a treadmill can push the treadmill around. Since the impact is always in the same direction, the treadmill will slide in one direction. Some treadmills are better than others and there are a lot of factors that come into play like weight, damping and the grip of the feet. However, it’s a thing many treadmills tend to do. Not much but over time it will add up.
That sliding can damage your floor especially if the feet on your treadmill are solid.
A treadmill mat provides good grip on both sides which really helps preventing any movement.
Especially if you like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a mat is essential because you put a lot of forces into the machine by running as fast as you can. This is a great way to burn more calories in a short period of time and also improve your cardiovascular health. A good interval timer is going to make HIIT workouts much more enjoyable. Check out the GymNext Flex timer. It’s super easy to set up and control contrary to most other interval timers making the set up for any workout a breeze.
Providing a stable base
You want your treadmill to be on a level and stable base. A treadmill mat can help smooth out the floor underneath a little to make it more level. Of course a big hole isn’t going to be hidden by a mat but it’ll help smaller indents.
Also, flooring like carpet and cork is relatively soft. It can move under pressure. A treadmill mat is much denser so it won’t move as much under impact.
Are all treadmill mats the same?
Reading all of the above, you might think treadmill mats are all the same. There is quite a bit of difference between different mats though.
- Material: Treadmill mats are usually made from PVC or rubber. Rubber is more expensive but looks better, last longer and dampens more vibrations.
- Thickness: Especially rubber mats are available in many different thicknesses. Many treadmill mats are about ¼’ thick but thicker ½” and even ¾” thick mats are available. Thicker means more noise and vibration absorption.
- Look: Most treadmill mats are just black. Some rubber mats have flecks of color mixed in which looks nice.
- Size: Treadmill mats come in different sizes. You want the mat to stick out about 3” on all sides of the treadmill. If it’s too small, the benefits are diminished but the most important is that all the feet of the treadmill are on the mat at the same time.
- Feel: Some mats have a smooth finish, other are quite rough. As long as the grip is good, pick one you like.
So treadmill mats can be quite different. In my opinion the thick (1’2”+) rubber treadmill mats are the best option with the most benefits. Other than that, get one you like, fits and can afford.
When do you need a treadmill mat?
Above you can find what a treadmill mat is used for. Maybe that doesn’t help you decide when you need to use one exactly. So let’s see when a treadmill mat would be beneficial.
When you need a treadmill mat is largely dependent on which type of flooring you put it on as well as your neighbor situation. If you are in an apartment of share a floor with your neighbors otherwise, a good mat is going to reduce the noise complaints.
Other than the noise, it’s all about you and what you want. Most types of flooring require a treadmill mat to prevent damage to the floor, keep dust out and prevent sliding.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of flooring and why you need a treadmill mat on them.
Do you need a treadmill mat on carpet?
You might think that carpet already does most of the things a treadmill mat should do. It’s even softer than a treadmill mat so it’s even better right? Well, carpet does do a few things; It dampens noise and vibrations pretty effectively.
It doesn’t do a few other things so well though. You don’t want to damage the carpet where you don’t really care about damaging the mat. You can rub damage carpet with the combination of weight and vibrations of a treadmill.
It’s also hard to keep carpet clean when you sweat on it so the carpet around the treadmill can get a bit dirty. The biggest problem is the dust though. Carpet releases fibers and those get into your treadmill. This will either increase maintenance requirements or shorten lifespan.
So you can see you really want to use a treadmill mat when putting a treadmill on carpet. It doesn’t have to be too thick because you’ll already have some noise dampening effects from the carpet underneath.
This IncStores 1/4″ rubber mat is officially a gym flooring mat but the size, material and thickness is perfect to use as a treadmill mat on carpet. Check it out;
Do you need a treadmill mat on concrete?
On bare concrete, there aren’t any concerns about damaging the floor (unless you’ve got fancy polished concrete flooring). Most of the time these floors are in the garage or basement so noise transfer isn’t a huge concern either.
Sliding could be a problem on concrete depending on the grip of the feet of the treadmill and the surface of the concrete. A mat is a good idea for this purpose.
Keeping dust out is another concern on concrete. The spaces where there are concrete floors, can also be a space where you do DIY projects. Those projects often create dust and debris you really don’t want in your treadmill.
Keeping the area around and under the treadmill clean is a lot easier with a mat than bare concrete. If you’re not worried about noise, a relatively thin mat will do. The same mat as recommended above for on carpet will do well.
Do you need a treadmill mat on hard wood?
On hard wood flooring, damage and sliding are concerns. It’s definitely advisable to have a mat under your treadmill on hard wood flooring.
There is one potential problem with rubber on hard wood though. Some wood finishes can react with the antioxidants in rubber and discolor it. This doesn’t happen with all finishes nor all rubber mats but it’s hard to figure out if this will happen with your combination before you actually see the discoloration.
So for hard wood floors, it’s better and safer to use PVC treadmill mats. Those tend to be a bit less effective in damping noise so that’s a tradeoff you’ll have to consider.
Do you need a treadmill mat on tiles?
If you want to put a treadmill on tiles, it’s necessary to use a treadmill mat. Tiles can break and scratch relatively easily to begin with. They are hard and slick so sliding and vibrations are also a problem.
On tiles a thick rubber mat is a good idea. This will distribute the weight over a larger area which prevents tiles from breaking. A thicker mat also helps with noise and vibration reduction which is necessary on a tile floor.
A good thick mat is one from IncStores. It’s a very similar type as mentioned above but a lot thicker. Check it out.
When don’t you need a treadmill mat?
While most people with a treadmill should place it on a mat, it’s not always necessary. Of course you don’t have to get a treadmill mat if you don’t care about anything it can do for you.
Another time you wouldn’t need a treadmill mat is if you already have something else under your treadmill that does the same things. If you want to put your treadmill in your home gym, you likely already have gym flooring. If that’s the case, there’s no need for an extra layer.
Especially rubber gym flooring is pretty much the same as a rubber treadmill mat, just the shape is different. Since gym flooring is the same material and does the same thing, there’s no need for a treadmill mat.