The Best Type Of Gym Flooring To Lay Over Carpet

Got carpet in a room and want to protect it so you can build a great gym on top of it? Here’s what you need to know.

Thick rubber mats are the best type of gym flooring to put on top of carpet. Rubber mats are heavy and inflexible enough to compress the carpet underneath to provide a stable base while still protecting the carpet. Rubber gym mats at least ½” thick work best for over carpet.

Keep reading for the detailed what and why below.

Do You Need Gym Flooring Over Carpet?

Do you need to have gym flooring if the room is already covered in carpet? Can’t you just put the gym equipment and work out on the carpet?

Check out this post over on It outlines the problems with working out on top of carpet. If you want the details, check out that post. Here is the summary;

Carpet is not a good substitute for gym flooring. Carpet is hard to clean and keep hygienic especially when sweating a lot. Gym flooring is easier to keep clean, provides more grip and protection for your equipment. Using carpet as gym flooring will destroy the carpet.

Gym flooring should do a few things;

  • Durable
  • Protects floor underneath
  • Protect equipment
  • Provide good grip
  • Non-absorbent
  • Easy to clean
  • Dampens noise

Carpet does quite a few of those things: It protects your equipment, it is often reasonably grippy and it dampens noise. However, it fails horribly on some other points: Carpet absorbs all liquids, it’s hard to clean, and it isn’t durable once you start weightlifting or working out on it.

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If you just place gym equipment on top of carpet, the carpet will be torn up quickly and the sweat from your workouts gets absorbed and provides a great place for bacteria and mold to grow. And when your sweat gets in there, it’s hard to clean up. Carpet can also shorten the lifespan of several pieces of gym equipment, especially cardio equipment like treadmills and ellipticals.

So it’s safe to say putting a gym flooring on carpet is a good idea. It will save your carpet and therefore money in the long run.

Large rubber mat gym
Large rubber rolls are the best for over carpet.

What type of gym flooring over carpet?

The best type of gym flooring to lay over carpet is large rubber mats at least ¼”, preferably ½” thick. This type protects the carpet underneath from sweat and cleaning water while also providing a stable base to lift from.

You want something that minimizes all the downsides of having a gym on carpet. You can see those problems above. So what type of gym flooring is best at that?

One of the biggest things is the hygiene. That means you want something that’s easy to clean. But on top of that, you want the fewest number of seams. No matter how water proof and non-absorbent the flooring is, the seams are where sweat and other liquids can still get through to the carpet underneath. So what you want is large mats of a non-absorbent material.

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Also, the material should be relatively stiff. All gym flooring is flexible to some degree but because the carpets underneath will already provide some squish, a harder gym flooring is OK. You don’t want to stack soft on top of soft because it will feel to mushy to walk and lift on. The floor underneath you should provide support and not be made of pillows.

It should also be durable, protect the carpet underneath, dampen noise and preferably look good. Put all of those characteristics together mean that rubber mats are the best option. Rubber mats can be bought in large mats, is pretty easy to lay down, protects the carpet, is easy to clean and some of them look great.

Rubber gym flooring is also available in tile form. Those are good if you’ve got a hard floor underneath that doesn’t flex. However, carpet will still move a little bit which means the seams between the tiles can open up. Also, there are just a lot of seams to begin with. That means mats are a much better option.

Foam tiles are too soft and absorb liquids. They are OK in some cases and are cheap but they aren’t any good to lay over carpet.

Whole room?

Do you need to cover the whole room in gym flooring? That depends on what you’ll be doing exactly. While covering the whole room in rubber mats looks nice and is often the best solution, it’s not always necessary.

In general, you want to cover the areas where you want to put equipment and where you work out. That means that if you only use a treadmill, you just have to cover an area a little bigger than the treadmill itself. All the gym equipment should fit on the gym flooring with some room to spare.

Suggested: Do you have to use a mat under your treadmill?

If you want to do things like lift barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells or do some bodyweight exercises, you’ll want to cover a larger area. For those exercises you’ll want to cover a space of at least 7’ x 4’, maybe even a little larger. And that’s on top of the space you need for any equipment.

Of course at some point you get to a point where it’s just easier and better to cover the whole room because you’re almost there anyways.

Other times just covering a smaller space is fine. Just make sure the little ledge the gym mat creates is in a place where it’s safe. You don’t want to trip with a heavy barbell in your hands or anywhere near metal gym equipment

Image of a home gym with rubber flooring.

Extra stability

If you’ve got very thick and soft carpet you want to put your gym flooring on, it can still feel a bit mushy. If the underlay is just too soft, the gym flooring can sink down a little when you step on it. In most cases the carpet will compress a little over time and this will be reduced. However, in some cases, this is still not going to be enough. Gym flooring should be slightly flexible and have some give but definitely not feel soft.

If the flooring is too mushy and you sink your feet in it while stepping on it, there are a few things you can do;

  • Get thicker/stiffer gym flooring
  • Put a sheet of plywood between the carpet and gym flooring

Thicker rubber is stiffer and heavier. The extra weight means the carpet underneath gets compressed more and faster. In most cases that alone is going to make a big difference. Soft carpet is mushy but also compresses easily. So extra weight is going to make a big difference. Going from 3/16” to ½” rubber mats is a huge difference. It’ll easily weigh twice as much just because there is more material.

Besides the weight, thicker rubber mats are also stiffer. That means even if the carpet underneath was just as fluffy as with a lighter mat, you would sink into it less because the mat is just less flexible. That means the deflection in the mat is going to be spread out over a bigger area which feels better. However, combine this with the heavier weight and therefore the carpet is more compressed already, the feeling is much better.

Go for rubber mats at least ½” thick if you think this is going to be a problem. ½” is going to be relatively easy to find. Thicker than that does exist but it’s a bit more difficult to find in big sizes. Usually the really thick mats are smaller. That’s not too big of a problem but it means you’ll have a few more seams in your home gym.

If you want to completely eliminate any softness from the carpet underneath, you can simply cover the carpet with a sheet of plywood and then lay (thin) rubber mats on top. You can choose to only to this places where you lift weights. That’s where the flex in the flooring is the most detrimental after all.

The gym mats you can see below, are available in many different thicknesses and sizes.

Favorite home gym tools

Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.

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Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to I've been going to the gym for about 15 years and am now looking to build my own. In the process I've learned many things I'd like to share with you.

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