Will your floor suffer from putting a treadmill on it? What are the risks for different types of floors? I hate scuffing my floors just as much as the next person so I’ve done some digging and found out what risks a treadmill forms to your floors.
In general, the weight combined with the slight rubbing of the rubber feet of a treadmill can damage flooring. Some flooring types are more susceptible to damage than others. Protecting your floor from treadmill damage is very easy to do.
Which types of flooring are in danger and how to protect your floors properly, keep reading.
How can a treadmill damage your flooring?
First, let’s look if it’s even possible for a treadmill to damage your floor.
In general, there are a few things that can damage your floor;
- High weight
So which of those factors can be caused by a treadmill?
Treadmills are pretty heavy although not really heavy enough to cause any direct damage. You can compare it to a big wardrobe or similar heavy piece of equipment. On certain types of flooring this can actually damage it, on others it doesn’t matter.
Running on a treadmill does create some impact but it’s not that much. If you can run on your floor, the impact from running on a treadmill isn’t going to be that big of a problem. A good treadmill should absorb a lot of the impact of you landing on the deck anyways.
Rubbing is going to be the biggest problem. Rubbing is what wears things down. It’s why the tires on your car wears. Of course the feet under a treadmill aren’t going to see anywhere near as much movement as a car tire but why they wear is similar. Rubbing can wear through the most resistant surfaces over time.
Combine rubbing with the weight of a treadmill and you have something that can definitely damage your flooring. It won’t be immediate or happen overnight but over time it can certainly happen.
Most of that is also dependent on use. The more you use a treadmill, the more rubbing there will be and the faster damage can occur.
Types of flooring
If a treadmill can damage your floor mainly depends on the type of flooring you have. There are some differences between treadmills but the surface you put them on makes the biggest difference. Different types of flooring have different wear resistances and load limits.
Let’s take a look at all the different types of flooring and how susceptible to damage they are.
Putting a treadmill on carpet is a thing people often have questions about. It’s a bit of a grey area if it’s a good idea or not. However, this post is about damaging your flooring so let’s see what happens to your carpet when you put a treadmill on it.
A treadmill is comparable to a heavy piece of furniture. The weight is transferred to the floor through four feet. Those feet are usually not too big so there is a lot of pressure in one spot.
When you put a heavy piece of furniture like a big sofa on carpet, it tends to leave dents. However, after a while those dents tend to bounce back perfectly fine.
With a treadmill, you do get a lot more vibration and rubbing than with something like a wardrobe. So while the weight itself is not a big deal, combined with the rubbing, it can damage carpet over time. It will take a while and of course depends on how often you use your treadmill and the quality of your carpet.
Putting a treadmill on carpet can damage the carpet over time although it will take a while. After the dents bounce back, it won’t look too bad but there will be more wear in the spots where the feet touch the carpet.
Cork can dent under heavy furniture like carpet does. Usually it will bounce back once the weight is removed. Cork can deform but it’s quite sturdy. You won’t really punch a hole in it but it can permanently dent.
One other thing that can quite easily happen with cork flooring is scratching. Pets are a common cause of scratches with their hard nails. A treadmill tends to rub a little bit on the floor. So while treadmill feet aren’t very hard, the continued rubbing can damage the surface. It’s possible to reseal the cork but that will give you extra work.
The potential of permanent dents and rubbing damage means you really want to use something under your treadmill on cork.
You’re going to have a hard time damaging a concrete floor with a treadmill unless you drop it on there from three stories high.
If you’d remove the rubber feet from your treadmill, you could scratch the surface a little bit. It will just be a few scratches though. Unless you have very fancy polished concrete floors, you’re probably not going to care about this.
If you have a nice concrete floor, it could be smooth enough for the treadmill to ‘walk’ a little though. The impact of running can actually move the treadmill over time. For extra grip adding a mat can be useful.
Also, a concrete floor you don’t care too much about is probably located in the garage or basement. I’m sure your house is spotless but in general, those places tend to be a bit less clean than the rest of the house. Having a treadmill mat under your treadmill can actually prevent dirt and dust from going into the motor and electronics causing premature failure.
Damaging your concrete floor with a treadmill is unlikely but to protect your treadmill it’s still a good idea to place a mat under it.
Tiles are very hard wearing although they could break. Breaking a tile is usually done with a sharp impact, not rubbing like you would get with a treadmill. Weight can still cause a tile to break though.
Does a treadmill weigh enough to break a tile? The quality of your tiles and where you put the feet of the treadmill on the tile can make the difference between not breaking and breaking. The problem is that you won’t know if your floor can handle it until it’s too late. Sometimes the weight of a fridge can be enough to break tiles so a treadmill could definitely do it.
Another problem with putting a treadmill on tiles is that tiles are usually quite slippery compared to other types of flooring. This could cause the treadmill to move around a little bit since the feet don’t have enough grip.
Combine this with the fact that’s it’s quite a job to replace a single tile in a floor, adding something underneath your treadmill is a good idea.
Hard wood flooring can be a bit touchy. They do require some attention and maintenance. You don’t really want to add to whatever you already have to do.
The problem is not the wood itself, it’s the finish. Hard wood is often finished with lacquer. If this finish is glossy, it’ll be very easy to see any scratches. The rubber feet of a treadmill rubbing on lacquer is going to leave some scuffs and scratches over time. Of course it’s possible to refinish the wood but that’s a big project that can easily be avoided by some protection.
You have to go pretty wild to actually damage the wood underneath. However, dealing with a worn finish is enough of a pain. Sure, it only becomes a problem when you want to move the treadmill.
However, you should exercise some caution when putting a rubber mat on a hardwood floor. Some antioxidants in rubber can react with some types of wood finish/lacquer. This can cause the color to change. So for that reason cork tiles are a safer option to put your treadmill on hardwood floors.
Laminate flooring might look like wood but it most certainly isn’t. That can be a good thing since it’s much cheaper but it’s also not as durable as wood.
Also, unlike wood, it’s not possible to sand laminate down and put on a new finish. Once it’s worn, it’s done.
However, most laminate is quite durable and a treadmill isn’t heavy enough to dent or punch through it. The feet of the treadmill can leave some light scuffs but nothing mayor. If you’re not too worried about minor scuffs, it’s not going to be a big deal. If you want to make sure your floor is in perfect condition after you move the treadmill, a bit extra protection doesn’t cost much but works well.
The good thing about laminate is that you can often replace just one plank. Although the whole floor does have to come apart to do this so you really want to avoid it if possible.
Like carpet and cork, vinyl can dent when you put something heavy on it. And it’s even possible to puncture the surface if you have something sharp.
The feet under a treadmill usually aren’t sharp so actually going through the vinyl is not a problem but it can cause permanent dents.
Vinyl also isn’t very abrasion resistant. The shiny surface can easily become dull with some rubbing like from the movement of a treadmill.
Vinyl is usually not too expensive but if you care about keeping your floor looking as nice as possible, a layer of protection doesn’t hurt.
If you already have gym flooring in the spot you want to put your treadmill, you’re good. Protecting the floor underneath and your equipment is one of the biggest reasons gym flooring is used in the first place.
If you have soft foam gym flooring, you might want to think about putting some rubber down instead. Foam flooring is easily damaged by heavy objects like a treadmill. The soft surface can also cause a slight unstable feeling because the whole treadmill can move a little under pressure. This will disappear when the weight of the treadmill compresses the foam over time. That does mean you’ll be left with a permanent dent in your foam though.
On the other hand, foam tiles are very easy and cheap to replace, so you can just change the few tiles if you want to move the treadmill and everything will be fine.
How to protect your floor from your treadmill
So if you are at risk of damaging your floor or you want to make really sure you don’t damage your flooring, what can you do?
There are a few good options you can look at. Pick what works best for you.
Bigger rubber/foam feet
A treadmill usually comes with rubber feet. However, they are quite small and have to transfer a lot of weight to the floor for their size.
The best way to protect your floor is to spread out the weight. You can spread out the weight by making the feet bigger. You don’t have to take the old ones off, just put something under the feet. The easiest way to do this is get a foam or rubber gym flooring tile. Just a single tile is enough. Then cut it in four pieces (or however many feet there are under your specific treadmill, usually four). Put the pieces under the existing feet.
This makes the weight spread out over a larger surface area so there is less pressure on one piece of floor. There is also less rubbing. Rubbing is the thing that damages flooring, more so than the pressure by itself. The combination of rubbing and pressure is especially damaging.
The extra layer absorbs the rubbing and pressure so that is enough to protect most floors.
Ok, a cut up rubber tile is not the best looking option. It’s looks a little messy and that’s not what everyone wants. It would be better to have one piece of rubber that covers the whole area. This looks much nicer.
The most obvious solution is a treadmill mat. Protecting the floor is one reason they are recommended to use under a treadmill in the first place.
Treadmill mats are rubber mats specifically made to put under treadmills. It covers the whole area of the treadmill and a little bit more. What this does to protect your floor is spread out the load and provide a barrier between the treadmill and the floor. This barrier prevents rubbing which can wear through some flooring.
Other than that, a treadmill mat helps absorb shocks, dampens noise, prevents dust from getting into the treadmill and catches your sweat if you’re working out hard.
If the treadmill is part of a larger home gym, you might as well get gym flooring for the whole room. Gym flooring comes in a lot of shapes, sizes and materials.
Large rubber mats give the best results. They are the longest lasting and look the best. They are a bit harder to fit in a room although there are lots of different sizes available.
Rubber tiles are a good option that is easy to put down and move around if necessary. They last long but don’t look as neat as a rubber mat. It’s hard to put down tiles very neatly.
Foam tiles are cheap and very easy to move around. They look good in the beginning but don’t last that long. They are the softest option. For some situations that’s more comfortable. However, to put a treadmill on, rubber is a better option.
Rubber is not the nicest looking material to put in your living room. Especially if you’re cutting up a rubber tile. A good option that looks nicer (and is safer on hard wood floors) is cork. You can easily buy a few cork tiles and put them under your treadmill feet.
It can be a bit difficult to buy separate cork floor tiles if you don’t want to buy a large amount. However, cork coasters are easily available in smaller amounts.
Cork coasters will be a bit softer than floor tiles. However, Cork is sturdy and will handle it. It might take a while to settle in but once that has happened, you have a good protective pad under your treadmill.