Is Rubber Flooring Good For Basements?
Interlocking rubber floor tiles for a basement are a great 100% waterproof flooring option. Typically, 8mm thick and 24” X 24” they are perfect for basement home gyms, utility rooms or basement storage rooms. Prices range from $0.99 (EVA low quality foam tiles) to $6.99 (vulcanized rubber gym flooring)
We like Energy Rubber Tiles from FlooringInc for $1.99 per sq/ft. Click here to find out why
Rubber Flooring in a Basement is a perfect basement flooring option for a home-gym, a play den, TV room for children or simply for storage. Another budget friendly flooring option we also recommend is vinyl plank flooring in a basement.
Our experts here at Home Flooring Pros have seen some pretty awesome basement renovations over the years, but let’s get real, for the majority of homeowners your basement has a limited number of options. Basements make great utility spaces, freeing up valuable living space upstairs. They are also a great option for a home gym. And of course, they work well as a man cave or playroom/TV/family room for kids of all ages. It doesn’t take an expert to see that, with these options in mind, rubber flooring is definitely a good fit for your basement.
In this post we’re going to focus on interlocking rubber flooring tiles, as we think this type of rubber flooring is your best option for a basement. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of using rubber floor tiles, look at your style and size options, how to install and clean your rubber flooring and, most importantly, look at how much basement rubber flooring is likely to cost you and where you can buy it locally.
This article may contain affiliate links. Click here for more information.
Rubber Floor Tiles Vs Foam Floor Tiles (EVA)
Before we dig into the pros and cons of rubber tiles it is very important to define the difference between real, hard-wearing rubber tiles and foam floor tiles.
They both look similar, often the same dimensions and the same interlocking installation method, but the actual consistence is totally different. Foam tiles are lightweight and very soft, think of a yoga mat or fun floor tiles for a baby’s play area.
Foam floor tiles are great, very cheap and worth considering for your basement too, but just understand that they do not stand up to much wear and tear.
If you’re looking to throw down a waterproof floor in a basement that is primarily used for storage or as a utility/laundry room then foam rubber flooring works well. Similarly, if you have a very basic home gym and want some cheap, replaceable flooring to do some aerobic exercise on then, again interlocking foam tiles works a treat.
Just be aware that these cheap foam tiles degrade quickly. Take a more in-depth look at foam vs rubber flooring.
Pros & Cons Basement Rubber Flooring
Our pros and cons table above is pretty self-explanatory so we won’t waste time going over each and every item, but there are a couple of points that deserve further examination.
Durability: Plenty of homeowners are looking to find waterproof basement flooring, this is understandable given that basements are constantly waging war against a moisture triple threat. Flooding from above, hydrostatic water pressure from below and humidity from top to bottom can all make keeping a basement dry very challenging to say the least.
Rubber flooring is 100% waterproof so in that respect it is the perfect basement flooring. Nevertheless, do bear in mind that while the flooring itself is impervious to water, rubber tiles do little to prevent moisture accessing the rest of your basement. The seams between the interlocking tiles are not 100% watertight so you still need to think about other basement waterproofing measures to keep your basement dry (think subfloors, moisture barriers, concrete sealers, dehumidifiers etc).
But when it comes to flooding, nothing beats rubber flooring!
Shock absorption, sound absorption and insulation
The importance of these three rubber floor advantages is not to be overlooked.
If you are setting up a home gym, shock absorbent flooring protects your body from injury and needs to be taken seriously.
If you’re using rubber floors in your basement for a kid’s den or TV room, you’ll be more than grateful when you realise the sound absorption properties of rubber flooring!
We have a whole post on the importance of basement floor insulation and using rubber floor tiles is probably the best low-cost way to help prevent heat loss.
What are the differences between a high-class health club and a low rent gym? Well, there are a few, but at the top of our list is…odors! The higher the annual membership cost the better the place smells!
What’s this got to do with rubber floors and basements?
If you are installing rubber flooring for a basement home gym, just take a moment to recognize that you will have to keep the space well cleaned and aired if you want it to smell good over time.
Cleaning rubber floors is straight forward but will need to be done on a regular basis.
While on the topic of odors…brand new rubber tiles give off a strong rubber smell. This fades over time but if you install them into a non-ventilated basement immediately you might find the smell quite overpowering. If you don’t have a way of ventilating your basement you might want to consider airing out you new tiles somewhere else for a couple of days before installing.
Not very attractive
In our list of disadvantages we flagged up that rubber flooring is not the most attractive floor covering for your home. For balance it’s worth mentioning that rubber tiles are still more attractive, generally speaking, than bare concrete, which over time often develops hairline cracks and spalling. Covering your basement floor in rubber is a good way of fixing cracks in a concrete floor…out of sight out of mind!
Rubber Flooring Options for the Basement
Now that you’re ready to choose and buy rubber basement flooring let’s look at your size and style options.
Rubber Tile Sizes: Rubber tiles vary in thickness from a ¼ inch thick right up to and inch thick, but for your basement home gym ¼ inch (6mm), 5/16 inch (8mm and most commonly used) or 3/8 inch (9mm) will be sufficient.
In terms of tile size you again have a range of square dimensions from 12 inch by 12 inch up to 4ft by 4ft. Most basement home gym rubber tiles are typically 24” x 24” (or 2 ft by 2 ft)
Rubber Tile Quality: As we mentioned at the top the cheapest and lowest quality rubber floor tile is an EVA foam tile. Light and soft you can find a range of these tiles online at Amazon or any other online flooring store.
For decent, long lasting quality you have three main rubber flooring options
Good – Non vulcanised rubber
Better – Vulcanized rubber
Best – Virgin rubber
For most home gym’s it’s really a choice between vulcanized and non-vulcanized. Vulcanised rubber tiles are stronger, denser, completely non-porous and, therefore, more expensive. If you’re a home fitness fanatic with a big budget than vulcanised rubber is for you. For most of us a non-vulcanized rubber floor is going to be quite sufficient for our needs and a lot easier on our pockets! You can read more about the difference between the two over at the FlooringInc rubber buying guide.
Construction and Styles: There are a couple of features to look out for when shopping for rubber basement tiles
Style: Let’s face it, we buy rubber floor tiles for functionality rather than aesthetics. We don’t know what the future may hold, but for now most rubber flooring tiles are plain black or black with colored flakes. The choice is yours!
Waterjet Vs Machine stamped: How your interlocking tiles are cut makes a difference to how seamless the flooring looks once installed. For a more seamless tiles look for waterjet cut tiles.
Made in the USA: It’s very easy to find rubber floor tiles made right here in the US of A, so accept no substitute!
Interlocking rubber tiles are super easy to install and we will shortly guide you through the process. Don’t forget, as mentioned above, rubber flooring isn’t a solution for waterproofing your basement even though the tiles themselves are waterproof.
As far as installation goes, this is very much a DIY project and there are only a few tools needed and only a few things your need to know! In fact, if you are planning an island installation for a home gym you don’t need any tools at all. Just place your first tile in the center of your island and work outwards from there until your space is big enough.
For neat, wall to wall installation you will need the following tools:
- Tape Measure
- Straight Edge
- Sharp Utility Knife
Work out from the center of the room as before.
When you come to a wall and can no longer fit a full tile, measure the distance from the wall to the nearest tile, adding 1/8th to ¼ inch for expansion.
Now mark this measurement on a fresh tile and using a straight edge draw a line, with the pen, across the tile and then cut the mat along this line with the sharp utility knife.
When using the knife, score through the rubber several times to keep your cut smooth and straight, remembering that you can probably use the other piece of cut tile at a later point in the installation.
And that’s just about all you need to know!
There’s very little to say about cleaning rubber floor tiles, because less really is more!
Get into a regular habit of keeping your basement rubber tiles clean by first vacuuming up any dust and debris.
Then spray a very fine layer of neutral ph cleaning solution over your floor and then mop clean with a just damp mop.
Prices and Where to Buy
Finding a retailer for rubber flooring to install in your basement isn’t hard. The following links will take you directly to rubber floor tiles at online retailers. If you want to touch and feel the rubber tiles before you buy then take a look at your local big box store.
Rubber Flooring Inc – The clues in the name
Home Depot – Large range of different rubber floor options
Amazon – Cheap and cheerful
Great Mats – Mats is all they do
American Floor Mats – Every type of floor mat imaginable
We’ve put together the following pricing table taking into account the specs and different quality standards to give you a clear overview of what you will be likely to spend per sq/ft for 24″x 24″ tiles. Our pricing is taken from Rubber Flooring Inc and Amazon.
24″ x 24″ Tiles
|EVA Foam Tiles||$0.75 – $1.00 sq/ft|
|Non-Vulcanized Tiles||$1.75 – $2.99 sq/ft|
|Vulcanized Tiles||$3.50 – $7.50 sq/ft|
|Virgin Rubber Tiles||$9.25 – $12.25 sq/ft|
* Apart from the EVA tiles, prices are based on an 8/9mm thickness of tile
Home Flooring Pros Recommendation
Taking into account everything we have discussed up to this point, and considering quality vs price, our home flooring experts conclude that for the majority of homeowners, a non-Vulcanized rubber tile, between 6 and 8mm thick and available in a handful of colors is going to be adequate for their needs.
That’s why our recommendation is Energy Rubber Tiles available for sale at Rubber Flooring Inc for between (at the time of writing) $1.99 and $2.65 which is a good mid-budget price
Slip resistant when wet, mold and mildew resistant, available in seven different colors, five different thicknesses and very, very durable. On top of all that they are waterjet cut for a more seamless look.
We’re not claiming these tiles are necessarily better than others, only that they represent a great benchmark for what most homeowners should be looking for in a rubber floor tile for the basement.
About the Author:
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years’ experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”