A gym floor is necessary for most gyms to create a hygienic and safe environment. Which types are there and what is the best option? Here’s what you want to know.
The best gym flooring is rubber mats that cover the whole gym area. Use the largest mats that reasonably fit to get the fewest seams. This creates the safest, cleanest and longest lasting gym floor but is the most expensive. For a single cardio machine, an equipment mat is sufficient.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the pros and cons of all the different types of gym flooring.
Types Of Gym Flooring
By now, I hope you’re convinced that you need some flooring in your home gym. But which type should you get? There are three main types of gym floors you can choose from;
- Interlocking foam tiles
- Interlocking rubber tiles
- Weightlifting platform
1. Interlocking foam tiles
The most popular choice for home gym flooring is interlocking tiles. These tiles almost resemble puzzle pieces. You can put them next to each other and lock them together so the tiles don’t move. A kit often comes with small strips so you can create a nice straight border next to the walls.
They measure 24” by 24” and come in packs of at least 24 square feet but larger packs are also available.
Because of the puzzle type edges, it’s really easy to put down and take out of your gym. Since every piece is light and relatively small, they’re easy to handle and not as heavy as big mats.
Interlocking tiles are made of a material known as EVA foam. This means it’s a closed cell material. This is a good thing since it means that liquid and dirt don’t have a way to go inside and makes it easier to clean. Interlocking tiles have a texture on top that provides extra grip and safety as well.
This product is available in different thicknesses; ½”, ¾” and 1”. Read more about which thickness is right for you below.
One thing you have to watch out for with this type of flooring is that the connecting pieces are not the strongest. If you’re relying on the puzzle shaped edges to take a force that separates the edges, you might not be pleased with the results. You’ll get better results if you fit the tiles up to the wall so they have nowhere to go and can separate at the seams.
Some of them also don’t fit together too well and can slide around if you put them on hardwood or vinyl floors. This can be dangerous although putting it from wall to wall helps with this since then it has nowhere else to go.
The durability is average. You’ll see it when you drop something on it or put a heavy power rack on it. Even though it likely won’t look great for a long time, it still protects your floor and equipment from impact.
They are a cheap product and you’re getting what you paid for. Interlocking foam tiles tick some of the boxes gym flooring should but it does come with some issues.
- Easy to fit anywhere
- Impact protection
- Noise damping
- Can slip on some surfaces and in certain situations
- Damages relatively easily compared to mats
- Different sets don’t always fit together
It’s worth noting that it does better with stationary equipment than with movement. So you could use it as a cheaper option for putting your stationary bike or treadmill on since the cons matter less in that case.
As you can see interlocking tiles are a bit of a mixed bag. If the cheaper price is worth the drawbacks, go for it. Otherwise you might want to go for the next option.
2. Rubber Mats
For exercises that require something a bit better, there are gym mats available. Gym mats are made from vulcanized rubber from recycled tires. This makes them very durable, impact resistant and strong. In general these gym mats are high quality although that comes at a price. Commercial gyms, hotels and stadiums use this type of flooring so you can be sure it’s super durable.
It can also look great since differently colored rubber flakes are often mixed in. This creates a really cool speckled effect that looks awesome in your home gym or anywhere else.
3. Interlocking Rubber Tiles
Foam tiles are cheap and easy to put down but not the most durable and can slip. Mats are expensive, big and heavy but are very durable and look great. Would there be a way to combine the pros of both types into one product? Yes there is, Interlocking rubber mats!
The thing they are not is cheap but otherwise they have all the benefits.
- Impact resistant
- Looks great
- Easy to clean
- Easy on your equipment
These tiles are made of the same material and have the same properties as the gym mats. The difference is that they are produced in the same shape as the foam tiles so they have the benefit that they’re lighter, easy to put down and you don’t have to cut your big mats to size.
4. Weightlifting Platform
The last option isn’t really flooring but it does a lot of the same things. And it does those things in the most important location. If you’re looking to just put down some gym flooring in/around your power rack, this might be for you.
A weightlifting platform is made to lift and drop weights on. It’s super strong and actually looks pretty cool.
A weightlifting platform is a metal frame that measures at least 8’ x 4’. Inside the metal frame you have rubber tiles or mats similar or a bit thicker than the ones mentioned before. Sometimes there is a wooden or bamboo platform in the middle to provide a good, stable and even surface for your feet.
They are perfect for deadlifting and other power and Olympic lifts. A weightlifting platform is a package that has everything you need to lift weights safely while protecting everything under and on it.
5. Equipment Mats
General gym flooring is to be used in the whole gym or a part of it. Equipment mats are specifically for under a single piece of equipment, usually a cardio machine. These mats do the same thing as gym flooring and also prevents the machine from sliding, rocking and moving around.
These mats are perfect for if you don’t want gym flooring in your whole gym but still get the benefits for your treadmill or other cardio machines. These are also a great idea if you only have a cardio machine.
They can be made from rubber or PVC. PVC is cheaper, thinner and usually lighter, rubber is more expensive but lasts a bit longer.
Equipment mats are made for specific pieces of equipment so they fit on it exactly. This way you have exactly enough coverage for your machine. So be careful your cardio machine fits on the mat you buy.
Alternatively, you can just buy a rubber mat that is the right size because that does exactly the same thing.
What Type of Gym Flooring Is Best?
The best type of gym flooring is rubber mats. Use the largest mats that make sense so you have the fewest seams. Seams are ugly, dust/water can get through them and can turn into dangerous obstacles if one edge creeps up. Rubber mats look the best, last the longest and just work the best all around.
If you only have a cardio machine, a smaller rubber mat or PVC equipment mat will do the trick.
Foam gym tiles are cheap and work but they don’t last the longest and start looking ugly pretty quickly. They do work, just not very long. Also, if you’re lifting very heavy, foam tiles are likely too soft and can lead to some instability.