Home gyms are like no other room in your house - they need to be strong and resistant to damage, but also flexible enough to suit a variety of activities. Here are the things you should know about selecting the flooring for your best home gym.

The Challenge of Home Gym Flooring

There are three significant challenges that the floor of a home gym needs to address:
  • First, many items in the room will be heavy. This is most obvious with weights - whose very purpose is to be heavy - but most of the exercise machines you can buy aren't exactly light themselves. The flooring you choose needs to be strong enough to hold up under the weight... and for that matter, so does the part of the house beneath it. You may end up needing to reinforce the bottom of your home, regardless of the kind of flooring you get.
  • Next, fitness machines can cause heavy impacts when they're moved around. The difference here is the suddenness of the impact, as opposed to the long-term pressure of weights. If a floor can handle holding things but breaks the first time you drop something, it's not good enough.
  • Finally, many home gyms also involve close surface contact. Yoga, stretching, and other activities on the floor mean it needs to be comfortable to sit on despite being resistant to long-term pressure and sudden impacts.

The need to fulfill these three roles is why you should always use home gym flooring over carpet. Most common flooring materials do not meet the needs of a home gym.

What About Concrete Substrates?

You should also pick home gym flooring over concrete. A good concrete substrate is an excellent choice for long-term support of weight, but it's usually too weak to impact. If you drop a weight and start cracking the foundation, fixing it could be more trouble than it's worth.

The Five Kinds Of Home Gym Flooring

Now that you know why you need flooring, let's examine the pros can cons of the five best flooring options.

Type 1: Carpet Tiles
The best carpet tiles are made of commercial grade materials, which are designed to withstand heavy use by multiple people over an extended period. Anything not made to commercial standards probably shouldn't be used in a home gym.

Pros of Carpet Tiles:

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Lasts for many years
  • Reasonably soft and comfortable
  • Affordable

Cons of Carpet Tiles:

  • May stretch over time, especially if heavyweights are on them
  • Need professional cleaning on a regular basis
  • Tend to get ruined if a basement gym floods

Type 2: Foam Tiles

The best foam tiles offer a mix of a safe surface to walk on and a sturdy bottom that won't slip around. Depending on the type of floor you have beneath, you may need to have your foam go all the way to the wall(s).

Pros of Foam Tiles:

  • Lightweight and easy to install
  • Can be used to create temporary exercise spaces in other rooms
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Sold in interlocking tiles, as well as mats, to help get the right flooring shape
  • Available in brighter, fun colors
  • Highly shock resistant

Cons of Foam Tiles:

  • Poor choice for heavy equipment
  • Doesn't regain its shape if compressed for too long
  • Easy to damage with sharp objects, including some furniture, equipment, and shoes

Type 3: Rubber Tiles

Rubber is available in a variety of thicknesses and color options. Virgin rubber (with no recycled material) tends to be the best, but cheaper recycled options may also be available.

Pros of Rubber Tiles:

  • Extremely durable and absorbs shocks
  • Excellent for heavy equipment
  • Typically lasts 10+ years
  • Easy to clean
  • Resists the growth of mildew, mold, and fungi
  • Helps mute sound to avoid bothering others
  • Usually considered the best overall material

Cons of Rubber Tiles:

  • Heavy, especially when in large rolls, so buyers may want the easier-to-install tiles
  • Poor insulator (cold floors will still feel cold, warm floors will still feel warm - arguably a benefit if you have heated floors)
  • Price goes up significantly if you want a color other than black

Type 4: Vinyl Tiles

Much like foam tiles, vinyl tiles lock in with each other - although once vinyl is down, it should stay put.

Pros of Vinyl Tiles:

  • Numerous color options
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to install
  • Highly resistant to mildew, mold, and chemicals
  • Relatively high flexibility and cushioning

Cons of Vinyl Tiles:

  • Doesn't absorb shock as well as rubber or foam
  • Status as an average, middle-grade material is often less effective than getting a flooring more suitable for your exercise style

Type 5: Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is a little unusual as a material, but there are some cases where it makes sense.

Pros of Cork Flooring:

  • Slightly more resistant to impacts than vinyl
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Relatively affordable
  • Doesn't absorb water, so likely to survive a basement flood

Cons of Cork Flooring:

  • Easily torn (especially when dragging gym equipment over it)
  • May need a coating of polyurethane on top to maximize lifespan

Final Thoughts

No one material is suitable for every home gym. Fundamentally, though, these are the options - so figure out how you want to use your home gym, then find the flooring that best meets your needs. For more information about the best flooring for your home gym, contact Loudoun Valley Floors today.