Rubber Flooring Buyers Guide
Home gyms, children’s play areas, basements and the garage are served very well by specialty rubber flooring available in rolls and tiles. The material is easy enough to handle for DIY installation. It resists moisture, is firm yet absorbs impact and cleans up quickly. This package of benefits make it a better choice for these areas than other flooring options.
This rubber flooring buying guide covers details about construction, wear, options, brands and FAQs necessary to make an informed decision about using it in your home or commercial location. For more on residential rubber flooring and where to use it click here.
What is Rubber Flooring & How is it Made?
This unique flooring can be produced from genuine tree rubber or a variety of synthetic rubbers:
- Rubber buffings and recycled commercial vehicle tires are the preferred materials for the rubber flooring type known as gym flooring
- Recycled roofing membranes, scraps from rubber product manufacturing facilities and other sources of pre- and post-consumer material are common too
- Virgin styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM or M-class) synthetics are the major synthetic materials used
- EPDM mixed with cork
As you shop for rubber flooring, each product’s description should list the source and types of materials included in its makeup.
Most rubber flooring is produced in the following manner with slight differences among types and brands:
- Recycled or virgin material is shredded or ground
- Recycled material is purified of contaminants such as metal and stones using screens, magnets and negative-pressure ductwork
- Binder and catalysts are added, and optionally colorants or color flecks, and the mix is heated in a cylinder where it becomes a solid roll when cooled
- A blade is then used to cut and peel the roll into the thickness desired; optionally, the material might be embossed and/or cut into tiles with straight or interlocking edges
Rubber Flooring Wear and Durability
In residential settings, this flooring lasts 5-20 years depending on the type, how heavily it is used and how thick it is. In commercial installations such as gyms and cafeterias, durability is reduced to 2-5 years. Rubber flooring is produced in thicknesses of about 3/16” to 1”, or 5mm to 25mm. Standard and metric measurements vary among brands.
If you’re installing rubber flooring in the garage, choosing a product formulated or coated to resist petroleum products is essential to durability.
Rubber Flooring Types and Options
The most common type of rubber flooring is called gym flooring. It is available in rolls and tiles.
Rolls are 4’ wide. A black or gray base is most common because of the dominance of recycled, shredded tires in the composition. A limited number of tans, blues, reds and greens are available too, often made from new rather than recycled material. Hues may be solid or accented with rubber flecks or granules of one or more colors. More than two dozen fleck colors are available. Rolled gym flooring is available in standard lengths from 12 to 24 feet or can be cut to custom length at the factory or warehouse.
Tiles have straight or interlocking edges. Tile from 1 to 3 feet square is most popular, though a few non-square rectangles are available. As with rolls, a nice range of color options and blends are made.
The most popular thicknesses for gym flooring are 3/8” to 3/4″ in both rolls and tiles.
A second type is called foam rubber flooring. It has an EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam core that is less dense than gym flooring. The core is covered with a vinyl layer colored to resemble wood plank flooring. EVA flooring is suitable only for light use and is typically backed by a warranty of just one year. EVA flooring is made in a rainbow of colors.
The third major type, premium rubber flooring, is commercial flooring that is very dense, offers excellent wear and is often textured or embossed with a geometric pattern or leaf pattern.
Leading Brands and Recent Trends
Here are the three major types of rubber flooring and the leading brands of each:
- Gym flooring: Kiefer, Made by Nature, Geneva, StayLock, Greatmats, Rubber-Cal, Flexco, Tuff-Roll/Tuff-Lock and Eco-Sport
- EVA foam rubber flooring: Brava, Norsk and TrafficMASTER
- Premium rubber flooring: Johnsonite, Kiefer, Nora and Mohawk
There are two primary trends in rubber flooring. First, this commercial flooring is increasingly being installed in residential settings, as perhaps you’re considering doing. Among its advantages is its versatility – it can be installed virtually anywhere over any type of subfloor and many floors including hardwood, vinyl, low-nap carpet and ceramic tile.
Secondly, garages are being converted into living space with greater frequency, and rubber is the top flooring choices for these remodeling projects.
Rubber Flooring FAQs
Q: What is the best rubber flooring for a home gym?
A: Flooring made from recycled rubber or synthetic SBR (styrene butadiene rubber) at least 3/8” thick.
Q: What is EPDM flooring?
A: Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDA) is a synthetic rubber elastomer, one of the chief M-class synthetics. Flecks, granules and shreds of EPDM are used in flooring either to comprise the entire material or as an accent in genuine rubber or in synthetic rubber of another type. Its advantage is the wide range of EPDM colors. Kiefer Color Flex, for example, is offered in 24 colors.
Q: What are the main advantages of rubber flooring?
A: The main benefits are:
- It can be installed over any subfloor, some flooring types and radiant heat systems
- It can be installed below grade
- It resists moisture
- It is firm and absorbs impact without being hard
- There are products to fit any budget
- It is available in a good range of types and colors
- DIY installation is quite easy
Q: How is rubber flooring maintained?
A: The floor is vacuumed and then lightly mopped with a gentle detergent. A light sanitizing solution can be used too.
Q: What is the best way to adhere rubber flooring?
A: Double-sided tape is sufficient for residential applications including home gyms, but glue should be used in commercial settings.