Urethane vs. Rubber Covered Weight Plates

Many cast iron plates are covered with a softer material. In general this coating can be made from rubber or urethane. They both have a lot of the same benefits but there are some big differences as well. Let’s find out what the differences are and what’s the best choice.

Urethane coated cast iron plates are more durable and usually higher quality although this does come at a higher price. Rubber is a softer material that is a little less durable but does provide more grip, noise damping and impact protection.

Rubber coated plates are generally better for home and garage gyms since they don’t see the intense use plates in a commercial gym do. You can find the best weight plates for a home gym here.

In the rest of this article we’ll go into how both materials are the same and how they’re different. We’ll also figure out what the best choice is.

Coated Weight Plates

Notice: We’re talking about coated cast iron plates in this article, not bumper plates. 

Coated or encased weight plates have a cast iron core and are then covered in a softer material. This cover can be made from urethane or rubber. These materials have a lot of the same benefits but there are some differences as well. There are a few plates that have other material coatings like plastic. These other ones should be avoided in general. 

Image of coated plates and bare plates side by side.
Bare cast iron plates on the left vs coated plates on the right.

Coated weight plates, whether they are rubber-coated, urethane-coated, or have another type of protective coating, offer several advantages over bare iron plates:

  • Floor Protection: One of the most significant benefits of coated weight plates is their ability to protect your gym and workout space. The rubber or urethane coating creates a buffer between the iron core of the plate and the floor, reducing the risk of damage to both the plate and the floor. This also helps protect your equipment when leaning a plate against something.
  • Noise Reduction: Coated weight plates are quieter during use. When you lift and lower them, the coating dampens the impact, resulting in less noise. 
  • Durability: The protective coating on coated weight plates enhances their durability. It helps prevent chipping, rusting, and general wear and tear, extending the lifespan of the plates.
  • Ease of Handling: The coating provides a more comfortable and secure grip when handling the plates. This makes handling, loading and unloading the bar easier and safer.
  • Aesthetics: Coated weight plates often have a sleek and modern appearance, which can enhance the overall look of your gym or workout space. Some people prefer the old-school looks of uncoated plates though. 
  • Reduced Maintenance: Coated plates typically require less maintenance than bare iron plates. Bare cast iron plates need a coat of paint once in a while. 

While coated weight plates offer quite a few advantages, it’s important to note that they come at a higher price compared to bare iron plates.

If you’re interested in more different types of weight plates, you can find a comprehensive list here.

Differences Between Rubber and Urethane Coated Weight Plates

So now we got the benefits of coated plates out of the way, let’s look at the different casing materials. Two very popular materials are rubber and urethane. 

Here are the pros and cons of both types. 

Pros and Cons of Rubber Coated Plates

Rubber is a softer, more pliable, material than urethane. That means you get better noise damping, grip and protection. and as a bonus it’s quite a bit cheaper than urethane. On the flipside it’s also a bit more vulnerable.

Rubber Coating Pros

  • Affordability: Rubber coated weight plates are generally cheaper than urethane covered plates, making them an accessible choice for home gyms
  • Noise Reduction: The rubber coating dampens impact, reducing noise during lifts.
  • Protection: Rubber-coated plates are gentle on gym floors, reducing the risk of damage to floor, equipment and plates
  • Secure Grip: The rubber coating offers a comfortable and secure grip when handling the plates, enhancing safety and ease of use.

Rubber Coating Cons

  • Durability: While rubber coatings are by no means easy to wear, they are less durable than urethane coatings.
  • Limited Aesthetics: Rubber-coated plates may have a basic, utilitarian appearance compared to more sleek and modern urethane plates.
  • Odor: Some rubber-coated plates may emit a noticeable rubber odor, especially when new. This odor can fade over time but may be a temporary concern.

Pros and Cons of Urethane Coated Plates

Urethane is a harder, stronger material than rubber. It can also be turned into many different colors. That means urethane covered plates generally look nicer and the coating is extremely durable.

There are a few downsides to this though; it provides less noise damping, grip, and impact protection compared to rubber. The durability also comes at a higher price.

Urethane Pros

  • Durability: Urethane coating is exceptionally durable and resistant to chipping, cracking, and wear.
  • Aesthetics: Urethane-coated plates often have a sleek and modern appearance, making them an attractive choice for those who prioritize aesthetics.
  • Low Odor: Urethane-coated plates typically have minimal to no odor, making them more pleasant to use in enclosed spaces.
  • Quality: Urethane is more expensive but you generally also get a bump in precision and quality.

Urethane Cons

  • Higher Cost: Urethane coated weight plates are generally more expensive than rubber coated plates.
  • Potentially Less Grip: Some users find that urethane-coated plates have a slightly less grippy surface compared to rubber plates, although this can vary depending on the specific design.
  • Less Noise Reduction: While urethane dampens noise to some extent, it may not offer the same level of noise reduction as rubber-coated plates.
  • Floor Protection: While urethane is durable, it may not provide as much floor protection as rubber, so it’s essential to consider the type of flooring in your gym.

Are Urethane or Rubber Coated Weight Plates Better?

The choice between rubber and urethane isn’t straightforward since they both have different benefits and drawbacks.

For home and garage gyms, rubber coated plates are often the better choice. Rubber is still durable enough to last a very long time, especially if you treat your equipment nicely. If you don’t have the budget for urethane plates, these will serve you well.

It also depends on your noise damping and protection needs. If you’ve got a good rubber gym floor, this will reduce noise quite a bit. That means the harder urethane is still quiet enough and won’t damage the floor anyways. However, a rubber floor will also extend the lifespan of rubber coatings. What does that mean? It’s better to spend your money on good flooring than more expensive weight plates.

For commercial gyms, urethane is the better choice. Equipment in commercial gyms sees much more use, and people tend to be a little less careful with stuff they don’t personally own. The extra durability of urethane comes in really handy in that case.

The coating is a small part of picking the right weight plates. Click here to find a guide that walks you through picking the right weight plates.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to HomeGymResource.com. After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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