Do you need the thickest treadmill mat you can get or can you get away with something a bit thinner? Here are the differences, options and what’s best for you.
A treadmill mat that’s around 5mm thick is enough to get most benefits. With a thicker mat, you get better noise and vibration damping which might be necessary in some situations. For optimal noise and vibration damping a mat that’s 10mm or thicker is best.
What are the exact differences and what is best for your situation, keep reading to find out.
What’s the difference between a thick and thin treadmill mat?
Now what does it matter if you get a thick or thin treadmill mat? There are a few differences that might change what you need.
There can be thicker or thinner for two reasons;
- Less material
- Different materials
Rubber mats have the largest variability in thickness ranging from 3 to almost 20 mm. PVC mats are usually 5 to 8 mm thick. Foam treadmill mats also have quite large range but are usually about 10mm or thicker. All the different materials will have slightly different characteristics but first let’s focus on what a different thickness does in general.
A thicker treadmill mat has one big benefit: Better noise and vibration damping.
The more material there is to absorb the vibrations between the treadmill and the flooring. Fewer or weaker vibrations being transferred to the floor means less noise is being heard in other adjacent spaces.
Of course the different materials have different noise absorption characteristics. Foam works well for a while but wears out quickly. PVC works to some degree but those mats are usually quite thin so are missing the thickness and mass to be really effective. Rubber is the best option and is also available in very thick varieties.
How thick does a treadmill mat have to be?
So which thickness is right for you?
Foam mats aren’t durable enough for my taste so let’s look at PVC and rubber.
PVC mats are about 5 mm thick on average and range from 3 to 7 mm. They weight about 9 lbs. on average. That means PVC mats are on the thinner side and don’t have a lot of mass to them. Sound and vibrations are damped by mass.
That means PVC mats aren’t the greatest for noise damping. If you don’t care about that, a PVC mat is a good option since it’s much lighter and cheaper than a rubber mat. They still have all the other benefits of a good treadmill mat. PVC is also very hard wearing.
Rubber mats range from 3 to 10 mm thick and are much heavier than PVC. So you can find a rubber mat that’s the same thickness but also thicker. Rubber is very hard wearing and especially at 10mm provides extra vibration insulation from a treadmill.
However, if you really care about the noise damping, regular rubber gym flooring is available in thicknesses up to 20mm. It’s the same material as a rubber treadmill mat so if you want extra damping this is a good option.
What does a treadmill mat do?
If you weren’t sure what treadmills do in general, here you go;
- 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
So you can see that the thickness does not impact that many of those benefits. That’s why most treadmill mats are actually quite small. As long as it’s thick and wear resistant enough, a thin treadmill mat will work fine and probably cost less as well.
As said above, a thinner mat will reduce noise and vibration damping. That means the thinner the mat, the more noise people in other rooms around the treadmill can hear. If you’re on the ground floor and/or don’t have any neighbors. This isn’t really an issue you have to think about so a thinner mat will still provide you all the other benefits.
If you live in an apartment with thin walls/floors or in a house with many other people, a thicker mat that dampens more noise is a good idea to prevent complaints.
Can you make a treadmill mat thicker?
Maybe you’ve now discovered you actually want a thicker treadmill mat than you’ve already got. What can you do?
Of course you can just replace your mat with another one but unless you’ve got a good use for the old mat, that’s a bit of a waste. There are some other things you can try;
- Put another mat on top: Simply getting another thin mat and stacking the two on top of each other might help. Make sure the bottom one is a little larger than the top one so it won’t slide off easily.
- Suggested post: Can you use a yoga mat instead of a rubber mat?
- Use rubber tiles: Rubber is usually thicker than foam or PVC. Rubber mats are also the most expensive. Combining a PVC or foam mat with some smaller rubber tiles under the feet of the treadmill can be a great combination that doesn’t cost too much.
- Add a layer: If you’ve got anything else laying around like carpet, vinyl or foam underlay, you can try stacking that with the mat. A layer of carpet or something else soft will increase noise damping quite a bit.
- Get gym flooring: If you might want to add more equipment to your home gym later on, consider getting good gym flooring for the whole space. Good gym flooring is made from rubber and very similar to treadmill mats.
These are some things you can try if your treadmill is a bit too noisy and you’ve already got a mat. If you don’t have a mat and you think noise can be a problem where you live, just get the thickest rubber mat you can get your hands on.
Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories
Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:
- Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and workouts, there is no better choice than the GymNext Flex. It’s super easy to use and set up with a phone app.
- Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
- Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.
To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.