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One of the best bits of a home gym is the flooring. Yep – and here’s why: Firstly a well fitted floor looks excellent. When I fitted wall-to-wall crumbed rubber flooring my garage really felt like a PROPER gym. Secondly it can impact your exercises – for example having a solid base when lifting is essential if squatting and deadlifting, but might be less important for yoga or Pilates. Knowing what gym flooring is best can be tricky – let’s navigate the minefield together…
At a glance…
- Bulldog Gear Morphic tiles are the best home gym flooring for MOST people
- I also like the HyGYM coloured flooring for those who like a splash of colour!
- 18mm-ish rubber tiles (like those above) suit MOST applications
- EVA foam tiles are a cheap alternative, but not suited to heavy weight lifting
- Horse stall mats are a cheaper alternative, but the uneven finishing puts me off them
- Artificial grass is excellent for sled pulls and cardio drills, but is pretty expensive so probably not worth it for most of us
The best home gym flooring in the UK is…
|Bulldog Gear Morphic Tiles
|HyGYM Rubber Tiles
|Ideal for most users
|Those who want more colour!
|Colour is awesome
|…if a bit safe
|A whisker thinner than I prefer
|Black with coloured flakes
|Click for latest price
|Click for latest price
What to look for in home gym flooring
There are a range of flooring options available in the UK (and in most other countries) – the main ones are:
- Crumbed rubber
- EVA foam tiles
- Wood or vinyl
- Artificial grass or Astro turf (yes – you read that right!)
Which one is right for YOU will depend on a few things:
- Your budget
- Your training style
- The size of your space
The common denominator to these? It’s dependant on each of us individually to make the call for our own circumstances. Although with that said – I do have an opinion that suits MOST people…
What is the best flooring for a gym?
As with any other flooring there are quite a few options available for home or garage gyms. These range from rubber and wood all the way through to carpet and even artificial grass! Each has its own properties that might make it more (or less) suitable for your specific uses.
That said if you’re just a regular person doing relatively regular training then it’s pretty easy: go for 18mm rubber flooring (around 3/4 of an inch), unless you have specific requirements for something different.
Does a garage gym need RUBBER flooring?
You don’t NEED rubber flooring, but for MOST people an 18mm crumbed rubber floor tile is the most efficient way to floor your home gym. This is for a few reasons:
- Availability – rubber tiles are readily available. I use these ones and I’ve had no issues
- Different sizes available – I like that my rubber flooring tiles are 1m x 1m in size compared to the smaller 50cm x 50cm tiles. Being larger reduces the number of joins in the gym space (less dust trap and trip opportunities!) and being heavier they are even less likely to move around. Your space may be different and benefit from smaller tiles but I would rather work with the bigger ones.
- Versatile for different training methods – rubber can be used for weights, cardio, kettlebells, circuits, CrossFit – you name it, you can do it on rubber tiles! Astroturf or carpet by comparison is less suited to weightlifting or circuits for example and ceramic (or similar) tiles less suited to weightlifting. Rubber works in all situations.
- Can be modified to suit your space – as well as being available in different thicknesses rubber flooring can easily be cut to shape or reinforced with a wooden platform if needed. Personally I trimmed the tiles around my space completely – edge to edge – and it looks great. I also laid a wooden base for extra protection as I like to do heavy (for me) weight work.
- Durable – the crumbed rubber tiles we’re talking about are seriously heavy and not be confused with the spongey EVA foam tiles. Crumbed rubber will take the edge off of a dropped weight BUT is dense enough to squat or deadlift on without the floor squishing underfoot at heavier weights. There is no need to add a plywood centre to your lifting platform if you use high density crumbed rubber flooring as the tile will not compress. I’ve squatted on my tiles for years and they are like brand new.
- Low maintenance – they can be wiped down, swept, hoovered or simply left alone.
- Looks good – a simple black floor tile looks good to my eye and can be further enhanced with edging or ramp tiles to make your home gym space look commercial grade in no time!
Of course there are times when rubber is NOT best – if you predominantly do floor work such as yoga or mobility drills you may be better with softer EVA flooring, or if you like to do athletics (or live somewhere hot and train outside) you could benefit from AstroTurf!
Gym hack: Horse stall mats, or maybe not?
A popular alternative to dedicated gym tiles is to buy ‘horse stall mats’ from your local equestrian yard as it can work out slightly cheaper per square foot. While there can be cost savings I ultimately opted against this for a few reasons:
- Delivery was expensive or non existent – generally equestrian shops wanted me to pick up the mats myself and wouldn’t deliver. This is understandable given their usual clientele are used to being hands on and dealing with huge bits of equipment, but as someone who does not cart saddles around with me regularly my car simply isn’t big enough to pick these up. The places online that did ship them did so for a prohibitively high price.
- Aesthetics – most stall mats have a textured or dimpled finish. I prefer the flat crumbed tile for both looks and in use to avoid anything being uneven or wobbling.
- Quality of finishing – measurements, angles and edges are not as tightly finished as commercial spec gym mats. I would rather pay slightly more to have a neater and more uniform space.
- Smell – stall mats can stink out your gym space if they’re fresh. It should just be temporary, but I was glad to skip this step myself.
Overall they can be a great solution for some – if I could get the aesthetics to work for me I would likely be able to deal with most of the other negatives. For me at the time with a relatively small gym space the difference in cost and the lack of delivery made it a non-starter.
How thick should flooring be for a home gym?
How thick you need your home gym flooring to be will depend on what you want to do with it. Personally – as someone who likes strength training – I have 2x layers of 18mm plywood with a single layer of 18mm crumbed rubber mats on top giving me a total gym floor thickness of 54mm. If you deadlift with steel plates and want to protect the floor of your home or garage gym then a wooden base like mine is helpful.
Note that there is a benefit to a wooden base under your mats which is to distribute any impact over a wide area – by layering plywood criss-cross as a base it essentially becomes one giant piece of wood spreading the impact of any deadlifts over this wider area rather than just going straight through a single rubber tile and to the concrete base. Thicker rubber tiles are available from 24mm and even beyond. These cost a bit more, but you may prefer this over (or as well as!) layering plywood.
Of course if you don’t deadlift, don’t need to worry about the concrete under the floor or tend to focus on non-strength training a single layer of 12-18mm would likely work well. A secondary benefit to thicker flooring is that it weighs more locking the floor tiles in place more securely. While not critical this is well worth having in the back of your mind when ordering as a little more weight will add a LOT more stability!
Rubber vs foam flooring: Fight!
I’m a big advocate of rubber flooring for the reasons covered above, BUT I admit it looks quite expensive when compared to some of the interlocking foam flooring tiles available. The reason for the large disparity in cost is simply MATERIAL. An EVA foam floor tile weighs around 2kg for a square meter vs around 15+kg for an equivalent crumbed rubber variant.
The additional weight helps keep the mats in place and adds increased protection for people doing high impact training – think deadlifts or other weightlifting moves. But if you are cardio, yoga studio, calisthenics or otherwise a lighter user then foam may well be suitable for you and come in quite a bit cheaper.
The downside to foam flooring is that it is spongey so moves around quite a bit (even if interlocked) underfoot which is not ideal when squatting. It is also prone to ripping and getting marked, so if you’re a heavy user or doing things like wheeling your cardio equipment around a lot you may find the tiles get dilapidated quite quickly.
Personally I prefer the commercial looking crumbed rubber and enjoy that they stay exactly where I lay them as they are so darn heavy to move, but if I was kitting out a large space I might be tempted to do some zones with cheaper EVA tiles!
It’s also pretty cool that EVA tiles come in a variety of colours.
Can you tile a gym floor?
I wouldn’t personally recommend standard ceramic tiles for a home gym – they look excellent but can get slippy when wet with sweat and can crack. You can of course build a lifting platform or layer rubber mats on top of tiles but then what is the point in having the tiles underneath?
So what I’m saying is – it CAN work if you already have a tiled space, but it’s not something I would CHOOSE to lift on so if starting from scratch I would go for another option.
Does carpet work well in home gyms?
My initial home gym set up was in a spare room in my parents house which was fully carpeted. The carpet was OK but not what I would choose if starting from scratch – it absorbed drink spills and sweat and marked relatively easily. That said for a bodged together first home gym it was INFINITELY better than NO GYM so I am very glad I did it.
Carpet flooring could work for those repurposing spare rooms, who are looking for temporary gyms and possibly those more focused on yoga, calisthenics or cardio. If using heavy equipment you are better to use protective mats under your equivalent to minimise stains and spills.
I would avoid carpet for weight training for similar reasons to the EVA foam flooring covered above – the thicker pile of carpet (including underlay) reduces stability underfoot and some carpet can be slippy when in lifting shoes – for example sumo deadlifts on carpet can result in dumping a weight on your toe if your foot slips outwards!
What about wood or vinyl floors?
Wooden floors are regularly used for sports training – from leisure centres through to Olympic training arenas, loads of places use wood flooring to train hard on. It’s easy to wipe clean, versatile and durable so lends itself to multi use spaces.
I wouldn’t want to drop weights straight on to wood personally in case it dented and marked so if strength training is your priority I would still want rubber matting on the top to protect the finish.
Something else to consider with vinyl or wooden floors is what is UNDER them. If you are thinking of repurposing a room in your house in to a home gym the house may be using a ‘floating floor’ design which means there is NO solid concrete base under the floor boards. Again it depends how you train – but I wouldn’t be keen on dropping hundreds of kilos on to a floor like that for fear of breaking through!
Even if you have a concrete base I would want to use a lifting platform or thick rubber mat to distribute the forces – so there are limited reasons to choose wooden floors when focused on strength training.
The New Era: Artificial grass… In a gym?!
You can now pick up rubber mats that are finished with astroturf / artificial grass. This really lets you take the outdoors… in!
While this looks fantastic, especially in large spaces, the USP is really for sled pushes and cardio drills so is fairly limited in utility for an average home gym user in an average home gym sized space. Cost is significantly higher than crumbed rubber tiles and it is more difficult to keep in top condition.
That said if I had a big home gym with plenty of space for sled pushes inside I would LOVE to have a strip of astroturf running down the middle!
When you’re trying to find the best home gym flooring in the UK (or any other country really) your choice will be influenced by what workouts you intend to do in there. That said, for MOST trainees a floor made up of 18mm crumbed rubber tiles will likely cover MOST bases. But remember, if you lift heavy weights you should consider a plywood base under the mats!