My Gym Flooring for Garage UK Project

All the social media outlets are jam packed full of awesome garage gyms and other home set ups – unfortunately (for some of us) there are hardly any decent UK specific resources to help us. This is my attempt to put this right – so welcome to my gym flooring for garage UK project!

We will cover each of the four key stages any garage gym flooring project, these are:

  1. Measure the area
  2. Build a wooden base (we will use 18mm plywood)
  3. Add rubber gym matting (see below for what to watch out for)
  4. Finishing touches – how to seal edges, cover any shrinkage etc.

Like many the garage gym at my house has become a bit of a man cave / bunker and as such has gone through several evolutions (so far). What I am going to run through here is the latest – and best – solution that I’ve implemented so far. I have tried a whole load of different garage floorings – bare concrete, sealed concrete, hard rubber tiles and ultimately ending up with the below. I’ve been using this very regularly since mid-2016 so I can say it has stood the test of time.

So – here are the steps required to complete your own garage gym flooring project – whether you are in the UK, America or Australia the steps will all be the same, but I have focused the links and resources towards those looking for UK gym flooring.

Step 1 – Measure the area

This is fairly straight forward – use a pen / paper and sketch out the area you are looking to floor. You want to capture all the nooks and crannies. Measure around these now and suffer less pain later (ask me how I know!!)

See below for the space I converted – a standard UK single garage, warts and all, with plenty of fiddly bits to work around. You can see my old interlocking tile flooring in this picture. This is the area I am replacing.

Before - Standard UK garage ready for conversion to home gym
Before – Standard UK garage ready for conversion to home gym

What to do: Measure the length and breadth of the area and note out the funny zones you will have to work around. Here I had to incorporate the cabinet and step into my measurement plan.

Step 2 – Build the wooden base for the UK gym flooring project

Once we know the floor plan and area we are looking to cover we need to arrange delivery of our base. Ultimately I landed on a few specifics:

Plywood

Not OSB or MDF. I went with plywood as it seemed to be. A little more cost for piece of mind. I know of at least one OSB based gym floor (just a stand alone platform) that has warped in places. I was keen to avoid this so just went with plywood up front.

18mm Thickness

Slightly thicker than some would go for, but I was planning fewer layers (see below). Thickness was important to me as I floor mounted a power rack so I needed it to be thick enough for lag bolts. By using thick matting and 2x layers of plywood I ended up with a total floor height of 54mm which was enough.

Two layers

Lots of debate on this, but I went with two instead of three layers to avoid having too large a step in the floor height in the middle of the garage. This combined with the relatively thick wood (18mm vs a more common 12mm) meant I had ample thickness.

We need to order enough to sensibly cover the area in question from step 1. I ordered full size 2.4m x 1.2m sheets and used a jigsaw to cut them down to size and catch all the funny details around the step etc.

I would love to send you a link to somewhere easy to order from – but I just used B&Q (see here for example). Local wholesalers may be competitive, but obviously contacts and links are region dependent.

You will need a jigsaw – this is the one I used which has the hoover attachment to capture all the sawdust. The other half vetoed me actually using that feature with our vacuum however…:

When you get all the wood delivered (or pick it up) you will need to act pretty quickly to get it all out of the way – see it all piled up here on my drive (ignore the batons – they were for a separate project):

18mm plywood delivered - luckily it was dry! Rubber flooring in the background
18mm plywood delivered – luckily it was dry! Rubber flooring in the background

The next step is to lay out the wood covering the area In question. Use the jigsaw to cut around any shapes or notches. You want to lay one layer first. Leave a gap around the edge of the space to let the gym floor expand slightly as the garage heats up / cools down.

UK garage gym flooring project - 5-10mm breathing gap around perimeter to allow for expansion
5-10mm breathing gap around perimeter to allow for expansion
Garage gym false floor - cutting around details. Note the staggered format to strengthen overall piece
Cutting around details. Note the staggered format to strengthen overall piece. Second layer will cover all these joins and turn the floor into ‘one piece’
Layer one - note the gaps around the edges. The area by the step is staggered so second layer will cover all joins
Layer one – note the gaps around the edges. The area by the step is staggered so second layer will cover all joins

For the second layer make sure and line up the leading edge (one nearest me in the above picture) as this edge will be on display! You want to run the wood perpendicular to the first layer with he idea being to strengthen the floor integrity by overlapping the layers / joins.

Garage plywood floor - second layer is staggered so all joins are covered
Second layer of plywood – you can see the joints are all covered and the details around the door step and cabinet have been covered by large pieces of 18mm plywood
Second layer of 18mm plywood - leading edge lined up. Note the overlap layer on layer
Second layer of 18mm plywood – leading edge lined up. Note the overlap layer on layer

The final step is to secure it all together. Controversially I do not recommend gluing just in case you need to change a single piece in future. Instead I drew a grid 18” by 18” across the whole area and put a screw in each intersection (yes this is a gym flooring for garage UK guide, not USA, but sometimes inches and intersections are useful here too 🙂 ).

Screws at 18” intervals on second layer of the gym floor
Screws at 18” intervals on second layer of the gym floor

I used 25mm wood screws drilling a pilot hole before screwing each one in. You will want a cordless screwdriver for this – just a cheap one will do. This is the exact one I have and it comes with a single drill bit (for pilot holes) and a number of screw bits:

Step 3 – Rubber gym flooring

Now for the enjoyable bit – laying on the matting! There are a few schools of thought on how to do this cheaply and efficiently (horse stall mats being one option, hard rubber tiles being another) which I have covered elsewhere, but as this was my personal project and I wanted to be sure I was getting the best possible finish I went with gym tiles in a simple 1mx1m format.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using horse stall mats, thin rubber tiles, or any other floor you want. As this was my personal project and I do quite a bit of heavy weight work I chose to go for the premium option. A few of the benefits of using proper gym tiles Which pushed me over the edge:

  • Uniform appearance – 1mx1m suited my space well with UK garages being approximately 3m across it is aesthetically pleasing to have the ’square’ format. Being dedicated gym mats they are true to size where horse stall mats have a larger margin for error. I value uniformity!
  • No smell – horse stall mats have a strong rubber smell that hangs around for a while. Washing can accelerate the time it takes to disappear – but I didn’t want to miss my weather window and end up with stall mats outside soaking wet, unable to be laid on the wooden base for weeks.
  • Replaceable – 1m x 1m tiles could be swapped out if one because damaged in future. Four years on and I haven’t changed a single one however…
  • Build in connectors – as you will see in step 4 I have run black tape under the tiles so no wood can be seen from above. Another super helpful way to prevent any of the tiles moving naturally through use is gym tile connectors. These are essentially clips to prevent slippage.
  • Bespoke protection & noise reduction – the rubber is designed for weightlifting and gym work so helps absorb impacts of deadlifts, clean & jerk, etc while still being firm enough to squat on. This slight damping is noticeable compared to the hard plastic interlocking tiles I had before. Part of this will be the wood underneath as well. Reports from the family are that my lifting sessions are more tolerable, if not quite silent!
  • Cost materially similar – when pricing horse stall mats as an alternative the price came out very similar by the time postage was included.

If you are looking for good quality garage gym flooring the UK I would suggest you check these tiles out – price wise they are right on the money and come with the connectors to stop the mats moving around:

Want the best value UK gym matting? Click this way…

Based on my research these are the best value garage gym floor tiles available in the UK!
Based on my research these are the best value garage gym floor tiles available in the UK!

When laying these I quite simply started with the leading edge, again keep to make sure it aligned perfectly to get the best finish, then worked my way back. The first 6 tiles were easy given they were full 1m x 1m, but the final three all needed cut to shape. For this use a Stanley knife and a steel rule. To mark the tiles use a piece of chalk ON THE BACK of the tile. When cutting use long, slow strokes to avoid it jumping or following the grain of the tile. After much swearing you will have a great finish:

Cutting the rubber mats with a Stanley knife is a bit of a pain, but worth doing to get a really crisp finish against the edges
Cutting the rubber mats with a Stanley knife is a bit of a pain, but worth doing to get a really crisp finish against the edges. You can see the chalk mark under the door which I wish I did on the bottom of the tile.

Use any offcuts to fill in any residual gaps – you can see beside the step in the above there is a small piece which I took from an off cut, and I also used a strip of around 1.5cm to pack between the edge of the platform and the garage wall. I did the packing after a couple of weeks as I wanted to give the rubber tiles time to settle, and also cool down to ambient temperature after sitting in the baking sun for a day or two!

Step 4 – Finishing touches

There are a couple of nice extra touches you can throw in to the mix if you are interested:

Edge – The leading edge in the below picture is the raw play wood end grain. Subsequent to this picture I sealed it and used black acrylic paint to finish it off nicely. This doubles as a nice protective layer keeping the end grain from being exposed to moisture and also looks really neat finished in black. This is the sealant I use – cheap and effective. I put this on in 2017 and it has been perfect ever since:

Matting joins – As the room heats / cools the rubber gym matting expands and shrinks naturally. It annoys me a little when the wood is visible through the cracks, so I simply used black duck tape under the mat to ensure when they shrink or move a little the wood underneath appears black due to the tape. 10/10 – would do again!

Concluding: my gym flooring for garage UK project

So this wraps up my gym flooring for garage UK project – it took me around 6 hours by the time I emptied the garage, built the floor and then put everything back in place. It would be quicker working with someone else. You could save a lot of time if your space is simple with limited jigsaw work needed. Cutting the mats around the details took quite. A bit of time however I think most of that was down to poor quality measuring by me as I had to re-cut two of the tiles.

My complete gym flooring for garage UK project
All done – 2x 18mm layers of plywood & a single layer of gym matting on top. Superb project!

I definitely recommend this to anyone serious about flooring their home garage gym – it is remarkable the difference it has made to the ambiance, and I have been regularly using and abusing the floor since 2016 with no sign of damage. Having been through a few iterations of flooring set ups previously I should have saved myself the time and effort and just put down a proper floor and proper garage gym mats in the first place!

ALSO – Don’t forget to read my previous post with 5 essential tips for garage gym flooring!

Good luck with your own project!

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