Here at Home Flooring Pros we recently published a new section on our site dedicated to rubber flooring. For homeowners looking at for options for a home gym, garage or children’s play area, rubber flooring has a lot to offer in terms of quick installation, easy cleaning and maintenance and low/affordable pricing. Check out our buyers guide to get started.
In this post we wanted to look more closely at the differences between true rubber flooring and foam flooring. Often these two types of flooring are lumped together under the heading of “rubber flooring” but they each have very different qualities and different applications. So let’s focus here on foam tile flooring and look at its characteristics and best uses.
Pros and Cons of Foam Flooring Vs Rubber Flooring
While similar, these flooring materials have important differences. The right choice for you is the one that is best suited for the demands you’ll place on your flooring.
Foam flooring advantages: This material is also called foam rubber flooring and EVA flooring and typically comes in large interlocking tiles. You’ll be happy with a foam floor if you want one that is:
- Soft: Stretching, yoga, Pilates, lounging and other low-impact activities are much more comfortable on foam than rubber
- Light: Because it isn’t as dense, foam flooring is comparatively light and easy to handle, install or roll up and move
- Shock absorbent: Your joints will appreciate the soft landings foam offers, and if you take a tumble while working out or a child trips, foam will soften the fall better than rubber
- Easily cleaned: Whether you’re sweating out crunches, the kids are eating lunch or the puppy has an accident, you’ll appreciate how easy foam is to clean with a damp mop and gentle soap or disinfecting solution
- Available in a good range of colors and styles: Foam flooring choice is good, though rubber flooring is available in even more options
- Affordable: Most foam costs less per square foot than rubber
Foam flooring disadvantages: Consider the downside of foam before you make your decision. Foam flooring is:
- Impressionable: The legs of gym equipment and furniture left on foam for any length of time produce permanent indentations
- Soft: Softness is an advantage if you fall, but that quality is a disadvantage when comparing the durability of foam to the durability of rubber
- Weak: Go easy on foam, or you might puncture or tear it with the feet or edges of heavy equipment
Rubber flooring pros: Rubber has been a prized material for centuries, and it makes sense today for a wide range of applications because it is:
- Tough: If your workout includes 20lb+ weights, fitness machines, plyometric rapid motion or cross-fit, then rubber flooring is superior to foam
- Quiet: Because it is denser than foam, rubber muffles sound better
- Adhesive-free: The weight of rubber means you don’t need to glue it to the subfloor in most applications
- Green: Rubber is a natural material that is produced with lower carbon emissions than foam flooring
- Manufactured in many attractive options: You’ll find flooring that looks great where you plan to install it
- Easy to clean: There’s a caveat here –rubber flooring with a very smooth surface will be easy to clean, but flooring with a textured or rough surface will grab your mop, requiring more effort, and leave mop debris behind
Rubber flooring cons: Rubber falls short of perfection in that it is:
- Heavy: Moving a roll of rubber flooring for a medium-to-large space won’t be a one-person job, and you’ll work up a sweat moving 20 boxes of it
- Costly: Genuine rubber flooring costs more per square foot than foam/foam rubber flooring
Foam Flooring Options
What is foam flooring used for, what are your options and what does foam flooring cost? Here are answers based on where it is installed most and the type of foam most often used in each area:
- Children’s play area: Kids in socks won’t harm foam, and they’ll love how it feels underfoot or when lounging. (Tiles or rolls)
- Yoga, Pilates and stretching: Foam is the perfect choice for low-impact aerobics and other fitness activities. (Tiles, but rolls preferred)
- All-purpose gym mats: Because foam is soft and absorbs impact, it works well in general activity space. (Tiles or rolls)
- Martial arts and wrestling: When hitting the ground hard is a possibility, foam is a better choice than rubber. (Tiles, but rolls preferred)
- Pet flooring: Animals from dogs to horses love foam flooring for its softness and warmth, though rubber flooring is better for durability. (Tiles for small animals, rolls for small or large animals)
Foam Flooring Prices
The cost of foam flooring varies by the type. Rolls are available in a wider choice of thicknesses than tiles, so the cost for premium products are higher.
Here are your options and the cost of foam flooring:
- Foam flooring tiles cost: $.75-$1.65 per square foot
- Foam flooring roll cost: $.90-$2.10 per square foot
When debating rubber flooring vs. foam flooring, consider the weight of those that will spend the most time on the floor, the equipment to be placed on it and the intensity of the activity the floor will endure.
Rubber is the best choice for durability when impact isn’t a major factor; foam is preferred for young children and when softness is the highest priority. Durability vs. softness-that’s what the rubber flooring vs. foam flooring debate comes down to for many shoppers.