Rated: 6 Best Flooring Materials For a Home Gym

So you added a room or are lucky enough to already have space in your home for a gym.  Before you move in that first set of weights or treadmill, you need to decide on flooring.  

  • 01 of 07

    Options For Do It Yourself Gym Flooring

    Two women relaxing and using digital tablet after exercise, Bavaria, Germany
    Robert Niedring / Getty Images

    What applies to the rest of the house may not necessarily apply to the gym.  Following are six types of self-install gym floors for several types of exercise--yoga, Pilates, Crossfit, and weight training.

  • 02 of 07

    Rubber Horse Stall Mat

    Weight Lifting Gym with Rubber Mats
    Weight Lifting Gym with Rubber Mats. Getty / Sami Sert

    This one is no joke:  these heavy and dense rubber mats, designed to be placed in horse stalls for easing the horse's knee joints, regularly get used in gyms and exercise rooms.  

    These mats come in big sheets of 4 ft. by 6 ft., and in weights that demand that you carry them with a partner (100 pounds).

    Buy on Amazon - Equine Stall Mat

    Even though the edges do not interlock, many owners report that it does not matter anyway.  The reason is because the sheer weight of these mats prevents the...MORE edges from curling or lifting.

    Other owners say that stall mats definitely have prominent edges.  This "lippage" may not be a concern for floor-based exercises such as yoga, but it may trip you up if the exercises involve moving around a lot.

  • 03 of 07

    Virgin Rubber Floor Tiles

    Man lifting weights
    AJ_Watt/Getty Images

    Many gym flooring tiles say "rubber" when they contain no rubber at all.  But these mats are real rubber, and this is the material your local gym might use.  If price is no object, this is what you want.

    It is 100% virgin, not recycled, rubber formed into 24" x 24" mats, 3/8" thick, with a slick pebbled surfaced that the industry calls "hammered."

    Closed cell construction means it does not absorb moisture and the shiny surface means it is easy to clean.

    One great...MORE advantage of virgin rubber is that it does not come with the unpleasant odors that recycled rubber does--heady chemical scents hardly being conducive to hard exercise.

    Cost

    $15 per square foot.

  • 04 of 07

    Cork Flooring

    Cork Flooring
    Cork Flooring. © JEB Custom Construction

    Cork flooring has been in vogue the past few years because it is an eco-friendly material (100% renewable and biodegradable).  Because cork is soft, it seems like it could serve as gym flooring.  Can it?

    Cork will absorb some impact, but not as much as the name implies.  In fact, cork is only a little more impact-resistant than a good sheet vinyl flooring.  

    Another downside is that cork may tear if a piece of gym equipment is dragged across it.

    Cost

    $1.25 per square foot for tiles.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    Heavy weights on gym floor
    Serkan Ismail / EyeEm/Getty Images

    Utility grade wood flooring is found in only the darkest, most remote regions of your local Lumber Liquidators or other wood flooring supply store.  They do not like to advertise it, because it is not suitable for most residential use and because it is so cheap.

    Cabin-grade wood works moderately well for gym flooring.  Not only does it splinter with dropped weights, it is of such low grade that it practically comes pre-splintered.  This wood floor is meant for shops with lawn mowers, rakes, and...MORE drill presses.

    On the plus side, this rough-and-ready wood is more attractive than plywood.  It works great for heavy duty weight lifting gyms.  No one will ever complain about dropped weights when the wood floor is utility grade.

    Cost

    $1 to $2 per square foot, a remarkably low price for wood flooring but a high price for gym flooring.  

  • 06 of 07

    Interlocking EVA Foam Tiles

    Foam EVA Gym Mats Used at Crossfit Gym
    Foam EVA Gym Mats Used at Crossfit Gym. Getty / Andrew Errington / Contributor

    EVA foam is typically the first gym-friendly flooring you encounter at home improvement stores.  It stares you in the face, pleading, "Buy me, buy me!"

    You should resist that siren song.  Here is why.

    EVA (Ethylene vinyl acetate) foam is light-weight and easy to obtain.  It comes in a myriad of pretty colors. Those are the positives.

    The purchase-killing downside is that EVA foam dents easily and does not decompress well.  

    Dropped weights have the unfortunate tendency to bounce back,...MORE creating a hazard.  The surface is mushy and unstable, especially when you are holding heavy weights.

    These mats are best used in children's playrooms, not home gyms.  If you want to use them in a gym, they can be called into action as individual exercise mats, as shown here, not as general gym flooring.

    Cost

    About $1 per square foot. 

  • 07 of 07
    Woman in yoga pose
    Mikolette/Getty Images

    If you intend to lift free weights or install heavy multi-purpose machines like a Universal or cable-pulley system, you should avoid installing laminate flooring.

    Laminate will dent and scratch, and if it does, you have no recourse.  Unlike wood flooring, it cannot be sanded down.  On top of all of that, laminate is slippery.  

    However, if light exercise is your only aim, and you will not be installing any machines or using free weights, laminate provides a flat, smooth, seamless, and easily...MORE cleanable gym floor.

    Cost

    Cheap laminate runs as little as $1 to $2 per square foot or less.