Thursday, October 29, 2015

What flooring should I use in my basement gym?

When creating a home gym in your basement, the flooring you choose should not be taken lightly. Home gyms present plenty of challenges in the flooring department, as do basements. So you'll want to pick a flooring that provides a solution to each of those challenges while meeting the needs of your own personal style.

Economical approach
If your primary concern with a basement home gym is creating a space to get fit at the lowest cost possible, you'll want to to consider either rolled rubber flooring or interlocking foam tiles. Both options provide excellent thermal and sound insulation.

Foam tiles will offer the most cushion and are great for general aerobic type fitness activities. Puzzle foam tiles generally range from $1-4 per square foot. The interlocking design makes for easy installation that can be accomplished by a single person. Minimal tools are necessary for wall-to-wall installation and island installations require no additional tools or equipment. The tiles fit together like a puzzle and can be cut to fit around obstacles such as poles, furnaces and water heaters. EVA foam tiles will not absorb moisture, but can trap existing moisture and should be lifted periodically to check for such an occurrence.

Foam tile floors are easy to clean with a broom, vacuum or damp mop. They are also easy to remove and re-lay in the case of damage or trapped moisture. Many athletic foam tiles are also reversible.

Thicknesses of foam tiles typically range from 3/8 inch to 1 5/8 inch. The greater the thickness, the better the protection from falls. These tiles also provide a variety of surface textures, some of which will not cause floor burns. Others are scuff resistant and are designed to handle shoes and boots.

Foam tiles can provide you a large range of design options as well. They are often offered in a wide array of colors, and tiles can be mixed and matched to create patterns and designs.

The down side to foam flooring is that it can, and will, indent under heavy equipment. Fortunately, it indents can heal themselves, provided the heavy objects are removed in a reasonable period of time. It generally takes about the same amount of time for the indents to disappear as it took for them to form. In cases where heavy furniture left on the foam for extended periods of time, indents may become permanent.

Note: If you plan to use your home gym for martial arts or wrestling, you may want to consider using folding gym mats for wall padding as well as pole pads or post padding.

Rolled rubber flooring will provide the greatest durability for the price. Also fitting in the $1-4 per
square foot price range, rubber flooring rolls range from 1/4 to 3/8 inch in thickness, but are significantly heavier and more bulky, making installation a bit more of a challenge. However, if you plan to use weight lifting equipment, it is well worth the extra work involved in the installation process. Rubber floors do a great job of absorbing impact, protecting the flooring beneath the rubber. Most rubber is quite dense and hard, but some, such as plyometric rubber, do an excellent job of absorbing impact and reducing leg injuries. Another major advantage of rolled rubber flooring is that is greatly limits the number of seams in your home gym floor.

Rubber is partially non-absorbent, meaning it won't absorb moisture from damp mopping, but power washing or soaking of rubber flooring can result in the water permeating through the material. Like foam, this material can trap existing moisture beneath your exercise surface and should be checked periodically to make sure mold and mildew growth does not occur. While cleaning the surface of rolled rubber flooring is simple, cleaning under this flooring can be difficult due to the weight and size of the sheets.

Rolled rubber is primarily black in color, but can have color flecks. It is also an environmentally friendly choice, as it is made from recycled materials.

High end home gyms
If you like the modular benefits of interlocking foam tiles, but want the durability of rubber, interlocking rubber tiles may be the direction you'll want to go. These tiles provide you a significantly larger range of design options than rolled rubber, as they are offered in more colors and thicknesses. Rubber gym tiles range from 1/4 inch to 1.25 inches in thickness. The price on these tiles do, however, reflect that increased versatility and convenience as they range from around $1.50 per square foot to more than $10 per square foot.

Another option is PVC plastic tiles. These tiles offer more cushion than most rubber flooring and more durability than foam. There are also significantly lighter weight than rubber.

Some PVC gym tiles even offer raised bases that are especially useful in damp basements. The raised base on those tiles allows air to flow underneath the floor, reducing the risk of mold and mildew growth. PVC gym floor tiles utilize various forms of connectors including locking clips and puzzle style connectors. PVC is resistant to water, chemicals and oils. Like foam flooring, PVC tiles also offer a large range of colors to choose from.

Alternatives
Although less frequently used, carpet tiles and vinyl top tiles are also available for home gyms.

Vinyl Topped Gym Tiles
Vinyl topped tiles are usually on a raised plastic base and offer wood grain or stone patterns. These tiles are commonly used in multipurpose areas where a more traditional flooring look is desired. The price range for vinyl topped plastic gym tiles is typically between $4 and $6 per square foot.

Carpet gym tiles
There are also carpet tiles specifically designed for gyms that use a bitumen backing and permanently anti-static surface. Unlock the rest of the options provided here, these tiles do require adhesives during installation. Carpet gym tiles are typically in the $3-4 per square foot price range.

Gym Mats
For temporary gym flooring, you may want to consider folding or roll out mats. These mats provide great cushioning and shock absorption and can be quickly folded or rolled up for storage. These mats range from $3-5 per square foot and are often used for specific forms of training.


There are many good options for home gym flooring in basements. Be sure you keep in mind not just the price but the condition and environment of your basement gym space and what type of activities will take place in your gym.