In this blog post I’m going to explain how some you can buy some affordable gym flooring for your garage all around the globe in order to:
- Reduce dust
- Minimise the noise impact of lifting weights at home
- Protect your Olympic weight plates and your house
- 5 essential things to look for in flooring
- Why equestrian stable mats make a great gym floor
- Where you can find great value flooring in the UK
Lets go through these points in turn below.
Why is gym flooring for garages so dusty?
If, like me, you work out in your garage you will likely be extra dusty! Garages rarely have good seals to prevent general dirt from blowing in under/around the door so debris from outside gets in. Unfortunately for many of us, we need to use our space for some other things too so dirt etc. accumulates from the lawn mower, garden tools, bbq’s and all sorts.
Why is dust a problem? It can get in your eyes/nose and at worst affect your grip leading to drops. Not to mention it’s messy and can lead to getting an ear bashing from the other half!
Good quality gym mats reduce noise when working out
I have used some cheap iron Olympic weight plates when working out. If I was to deadlift the barbell with these and drop back to the ground even the most gentle return would create a huge noise on the concrete garage floor! I currently use some 18mm thick rubber flooring (see my UK based garage-gym flooring project here) which dampens the noise to a far more acceptable level.
Reducing the noise is a double positive as it also removes that little bit of subconscious restraint when lifting that the return needs to be dampened. This way you are focused on form and not on minimising noise.
How they protect your gym and your weight plates
Moving on from the previous point on how rubber tiles will reduce noise, they will also protect your weight plates. You don’t need fancy rubber Olympic weights to be protective over them! Even cheap iron plates will chip and crack if constantly battered.
Laying down a firm rubber base will give you a bit of damping between the iron plate and the concrete ground. While a hard rubber tile may not feel like it has much damping, when dropping 400lbs on it they squish just enough to take the edge off the drop, unlike concrete!
What should I look for in garage gym flooring?
I suggest making sure your floor tiles are:
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- NOT EVA – this is a very soft, foam type material. It is way too soft and doesn’t offer a sturdy enough base for standing on when doing big lifts.
- Look instead for hard rubber which will feel solid underfoot. Many suppliers will be cagey about the material, probably in a bid to sell you some sub-standard EVA tiles. The easiest way to tell if mats are any good is to check the weight. If 6 tiles weigh 2kg, avoid. If they weigh 6kg+ then they are likely the real deal.
- Alternatively look for proper gym tiles – these are made for heavy use And are usually made up of crumbed rubber – ideal for damping noise while protecting floors and equipment. The downside is they are a bit more expensive than the hard rubber option above.
- Thickness – I have 18mm thick crumbed rubber tiles in my garage. This is probably overkill, and I would recommend somewhere between 12-18mm. 18mm would give you more of a comfort margin. You need to consider the step up the lifting areas as well – particularly if using a wooden base.
- Watch for delivery charges, given how heavy flooring can end up being delivery can be a big sting in an otherwise cheap deal.
- Size – make sure and order enough to cover your workout area. I started with enough under my power cage which is c.2.5mx2m which is the minimum I would recommend. I’ve since expanded to cover the entire gym area in the garage.
Most importantly, please check the weight of the tiles before ordering. It is much better to pay a little more to have something that’s up to the job.
Horse stall mats make great gym floors!
Stall matting is designed to take a 500kg horse stamping around on it for hours a day, not to mention tough enough to withstand being power washed and scrubbed clean daily. They are therefore more than durable enough to make a great base.
Stable mats are readily available at equestrian suppliers. Google local suppliers or, if you prefer to order online, I’ve put a couple of links down below you can check out. These are available in 6ft x 4ft spec and are occasionally rebranded as garage or gym flooring which is fine.
One thing – be warned these babies are heavy buggers! Great news once in place but means it’s probably a two person job to initially unroll.
Can I find cheap flooring options in the UK?
You sure can, I know as I bought cheap rubber tiles and use these in my garage here in the UK! If you’re not in a rush, one of the greatest sources of cheap kit online is inevitably ebay.
What I would do is buy enough thick, crumb rubber tiles to cover about 3m x 3m which is an ideal space for a power rack set up (in fact this is what I did – second time around! Buy once, cry once would be my suggestion for anyone reading this!! – picture for evidence below!)
The pinnacle of gym flooring is crumbed rubber tiles – it allows you to deadlift with peace of mind that your equipment is safe and the noise mitigated as much as is reasonably possible. The ideal product is below and available in a variety of sizes:
The benefits of using this dedicated gym flooring from Bulldog are:
- Uniform appearance – 1mx1m suited my space well
- No smell – horse stall mats have a strong rubber smell that can stick around. Washing can accelerate the time it takes to disappear – but for various reasons I didn’t want to do that
- Replaceable – 1m x 1m tiles are easily replaceable if one gets damaged (not an issue I’ve had in four years though)
- Build in connectors – a helpful way to prevent any of the tiles moving naturally through use is gym tile connectors. These are essentially clips to prevent slippage. The Bulldog tiles come with connectors.
- Bespoke protection & noise reduction – The slight damping these provide over the hard plastic tiles I had previously is noticeable. Reports from the family are that my lifting sessions are more tolerable!
- Cost materially similar – when pricing horse stall mats as an alternative the price came out very similar by the time postage was included.
There are a couple of alternatives to the Bulldog ones picked out above.
Firstly we have an unbranded 1m x 1m tile available on Amazon – this has recently caught my eye simply because they are quite cheap, but personally I would pay a little more to get the reassurance of buying from Bulldog:
Another alternative if you are looking to save a little money by utilising stall mats – a couple of these would cover an area of 6ft x 8ft and form a pretty good base for a power rack. What I will say is these do tend to have a bit of a rubber odour initially – it does wear off, but it is something to consider if you have the funds to upgrade to crumbed rubber matting but are on the fence. The ideal mat is below – no holes, heavy duty and delivery available: