How to Get Flooring for a Home Gym on the Cheap


Many people are serious about their health and fitness. Yet, they fail to think about how their home gym flooring impacts their workout routine. 

This is understandable. Working out on a bare or cement floor, as opposed to managing this chore, may seem like an easy trade-off compared to doing nothing. Choosing flooring for your home gym isn’t exactly exciting. In fact, it can be a drag, but it’s one of those things that you must do if you’re serious about fitness. 

You’d never skip a workout, would you? In all seriousness, the right home gym flooring can significantly increase your safety while protecting the structural integrity of your home. 

Some may choose to throw an old, used carpet over their workout space. That should work just fine. Right? 

Wrong. The floor of your workout space is literally the foundation of the system that supports your body while you exercise. By putting thought and a little time into choosing your gym flooring, you’ll create a space that’s pleasant to use and you may even exercise more often. 

Installing home gym flooring may seem like a relatively minor task, but it can significantly affect how you view exercise. A properly covered gym floor provides function and will improve your workout experience. 

It might take a little work to choose a covering and install it, but it will protect you, your body, your floor and your workout equipment. Although it’s the least thought about part of a home gym, it’s actually the most important. 

A Few Thoughts About Your New Gym Floor 

Over time, a consistent workout routine can wear out your floor, whether it’s wood or cement. You may think that your cement basement or garage floor will withstand regular workouts with ease. However, after dropping free weights – for instance – on the surface, you’ll see that even this hardened surface isn’t impervious to damage. 

In addition, cement or unpadded surfaces are extremely uncomfortable for direct skin to floor contact exercises such as push-ups and crunches. Furthermore, an unfinished cement surface produces dust, which you’ll never be able to clean completely. 

Rubber is your best home gym flooring choice, although – if your budget is truly limited – there are alternatives. More on that later. 

Ideally, you should go with rubber matting that’s approximately 3/8” thick, and – please – don’t use mats made for horse stalls. Instead, go for either rollout or interlocking rubber matting. 

The Best Choice for a Tight Budget 

If you need to cover a large area of your home for your gym, you may find it challenging to balance costs and protective benefits. Of course, it’s up to you if you want to use thin materials. However, this kind of covering will not dissipate the energy generated by routine workouts. 

There are affordable floor covering options that will do the job well. Also, the right home gym floor covering will provide you with choices as far as how much you need to cover a specific area. 

One of the most cost-effective and little-known budget home gym floor coverings is Sorbus wood mats. They’re effective for light workouts and home office applications. What’s more, they fit in nicely with existing décor. 

They come in different patterns and designs. You’d need only to pad the floor with 3/8” foam for the right absorbency, but this is an additional expense. Therefore, you’d have to do the math to figure out if this choice is right for you. 

Horse Stall Mats Might Not Be Such a Great Deal 

Many cost-conscious, fitness minded people install inexpensive horse stall mats in their workout area. On one hand, the mats can withstand high-level impacts. In fact, this flooring works well with hard-core aerobic exercise programs. Still, it lacks the slip resistance of rubber, which is a serious downside with this type of floor covering. 

In addition, horse stall mats are made with recycled rubber and hold a lingering, heavy tire smell. Also, their thin composition doesn’t do a great job of protecting interior floor surfaces. Still, horse stall mats are a popular choice among powerlifters, although they must use plywood under the covering to protect the floor from impacts. 

Despite these few benefits, installing this floor covering can cost more than buying adequate rubber home gym flooring, especially when you include the cost of installing additional padding. Furthermore, horse stall mats are known to move at the seams during forceful movements, which can result in accidents that could ultimately cost you much more than a functional flooring surface. 

Why Should I Invest in a Gym Floor Mat? 

Gym flooring is a worthwhile investment. Flooring is the foundation of your entire gym. Whether you own a full gym set up or you’re just getting started, choosing the right flooring can make a big difference in your workout experience. 

Overall, most flooring options aren’t too expensive, but the installation costs can add up – especially for larger spaces. In the long run, the smart move is to invest in a quality floor mat so that you don’t waste money replacing flooring that only lasts a relatively short time. 

While you may not realize it, gym flooring supports your body during hard workouts, and a non-slip rubber surface provides stability and protects you from injuries. Furthermore, the right flooring will extend the life of your gym equipment and the structure that supports your workout area. 

Think about what happens as impacts vibrate through the flooring and subframe of your home while you exercise. Gym mats absorb this vibration, protecting your home from structural damage. 

Why the Right Matt Makes All the Difference in the World 

No matter what rubber mat you choose, initially, it will hold a strong odor, but this will fade relatively quickly. Rubber gym mats are nonporous and work well for high-impact, sweaty workouts. They also have a smooth finish that will give your workout area a clean, professional look. 

Quality rubber mats are durable and well worth the investment. While they may have a significant initial upfront cost, you’ll save money in the long run because you won’t have to replace it frequently. 

Nonporous rubber mats also protect flooring from beverage spills and other liquids. Rubber mats designed especially for exercise are especially durable. Manufactures have designed them specifically to absorb repeated body and equipment impacts. 

This construction prevents damage to your home subflooring. Additionally, quality rubber gym mats absorb sound, preventing you from disturbing others during your workout. 

Gym Floor Mat Material Options 

In the end, you’ll have to find a balance between cost and protection when choosing your home gym flooring. Carpet, for instance, is a common covering used by many for cheap and fast gym flooring. 

If you must use carpet, choose low pile or commercial grade carpeting. Also, carpet tiles make installation easy for anyone. Otherwise, you’ll have to hire a professional installer to make sure that the carpet is secure enough to allow you to workout safely. In addition, carpets aren’t nonporous, so they will need an occasional cleaning, especially if you accidentally spill something on the surface. 

Foam is another inexpensive home gym floor covering. This kind of covering works well for routines such as yoga and Pilates. 

Vinyl flooring is easy to clean and resists mold and moisture. However, it offers little shock absorption. The end result after installing the vinyl will feel much like that of a typical kitchen floor, rather than a comfortable gym surface. 

Choosing the right gym flooring is a balancing act between prioritizing the structural integrity of your home, your safety, your comfort and your budget. Whether you lift free weights or do yoga, it’s important to do your best to install the ideal flooring for your workout style. 

2’ x 2’ rubber exercise floor tiles are a proven and safe bet. Some manufacturers also offer larger rubber tiles. They also produce tiles that are smooth on one side so that you can finish off the edges of your mat nicely. 

The pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. You can buy them in any combination to design a mat that’s perfect for you. 

Rubber gym mats are also available in convenient rolls. They’re typically 4 feet wide and vary in length. The nice part about this kind of home gym flooring is that you simply roll it out and you’re done. However, you must find a way to secure the edges. 

Most dedicated fitness enthusiasts go with 2’ x 2’ rubber home gym floor tiles. Quality rubber tiles last longer than less resilient floor coverings. They are more expensive than, for instance, horse stall mats, but they’re also safer and more attractive. Furthermore, quality rubber home gym floor matting cuts down on mold, mildew and odors. 

Varying home gym flooring has different benefits. Whatever flooring type that you choose will have a big influence on the feel and comfort of your home gym. 

Ultimately, you must decide what works best for you. Good luck with your installation and enjoy your workout on your new gym floor!

Ricky Kesler

Ricky Kesler has been an avid DIYer for years. Recently he's really taken to home security, but he has a lot of experience with all sorts of projects from Plumbing to Electrical and Framing to Tiling.

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