Do you really need a treadmill mat?

In Equip Your Gym, Plan Your Gym by Tim Steward

Last updated on February 28th, 2021 at 06:11 pm

I had finally decided on my treadmill. After way too much research and time at the store trying them out, I ended up going with the first one the guy at the store showed me after asking me about my needs.

I’m naturally skeptical of salespeople, so of course, I couldn’t just say yes right away! I had to make him work for it. Being in sales myself, I wanted to make sure his recommendations were driven by my needs and not by his pocketbook.

So it should come as no surprise that when we got to the terminal to write it up, I became even more skeptical as he recommended adding items. He started with something called a treadmill mat. I didn’t even know what that was!

He didn’t even ask me if I wanted one; he just said, “and you’ll need a treadmill mat.” Hmmm, do I, though? It turns out he was right and for a variety of reasons.

Unless your treadmill is installed on rubber gym flooring, you’ll need a treadmill mat. A quality treadmill mat will protect both your floor and your treadmill. It will also dampen noise and vibration. A good mat will cost, on average, between $50 and $75 and is usually made of dense rubber.

I didn’t buy anything else that he recommended as an add on (no special cleaner, extended warranty, etc.), but I did buy a mat. And I’m glad I did!

What is a treadmill mat?

A treadmill mat is a high-density rubber mat that is typically a little longer and a little wider than your treadmill. Quality mats range in price from $50-$75. Treadmill mats keep your treadmill in place, absorb noise and vibration, and protect the treadmill from dirt and dust.

A good mat will typically be at least 3/16” (4mm) thick. The best mats are even thicker at ⅜” (8mm). Be careful of the cheap versions you’ll see online. Those are never very thick, and the thickness of the mat creates a lot of its benefits.

Good mats are often rounded at the corners. This makes them not only look nicer but keeps you from tripping over their edge when walking on them. Good mats will lay flat and not roll up at the edges either.

How do you know it’s a good mat? Typically, the price point will tell you that. Expect to spend $50-$75 on a quality mat.

Where are you putting your treadmill?

Finding a place for a treadmill can be challenging. Even those that have a dedicated home gym space can have a hard time. If installed correctly, you’ll need a good amount of room.

To start with, where does your treadmill fit? Once you decide that, you’ll have to deal with the details of that location.

One of those details is the type of flooring you have in place. Each will represent its own installation challenges.

Can you put a treadmill on carpet? 

Yes, a treadmill can be installed directly on carpet. Your treadmill won’t damage the carpet any more than other heavy pieces of furniture. Make sure to use a treadmill mat to help keep dirt, dust, and carpet fibers out of the treadmill as well as to aid with airflow under the unit.

I’ve read in more than one place that putting your treadmill on carpet is a bad idea. I disagree. There’s nothing that realistically prohibits you from putting your treadmill on carpet. In fact, carpet is probably one of the best places to put it if noise and vibration are a concern for you.

This is especially true if you are installing your treadmill on the second floor. There would be a noticeable difference in noise levels between putting the treadmill on carpet or putting it on a hard floor surface for a second level installation.

Another benefit of carpet is that it will help to keep the treadmill in place. They tend to move around on harder flooring surfaces.

So with all that in mind, do you still need a treadmill mat if your treadmill is installed on carpet? Yes! Here’s why.

Carpet consists of tiny fibers. No matter how well you vacuum, it’s full of little dust particles too. A treadmill’s movement and vibration will disturb all those particles, and they will float up into the treadmill itself.

This can damage the belt, the rollers, the bearings, and the motor! Using a mat can prevent these particles from getting into the exposed underside of your treadmill.

It will also protect your carpet. All heavy items can create permanent indentations in your carpet. Your couch and your bed are two examples. Using a mat can prevent this from happening under your treadmill too.

Lastly, if you have a deep pile carpet, a mat will push that down and allow proper ventilation under and around the treadmill. This is important as it helps prevent your motor from overheating.

Can you put a treadmill on cement?

Yes, you can put a treadmill directly on a cement floor. No damage will come to the floor or the treadmill if you do this. A treadmill mat is recommended in this situation to help keep the treadmill in place (they tend to move around on hard surfaces) and reduce reflected noise.

For people with garage and basement gyms, cement will be the most common flooring found. Concrete is a durable surface that typically doesn’t need extra protection. But that said, a treadmill mat is still in order.

With a cement floor, dirt and dust are a normal part of life. I don’t know where it all comes from, but there seems to be no end of it in my garage. A mat will help deal with this problem.

A mat will also help keep your treadmill in place. On hard surfaces like cement, a treadmill will slowly “walk” over time. A quality mat will prevent that from happening.

Cement also tends to reflect noise. This is the biggest reason I use a mat under the treadmill in my garage gym. It’s noticeably louder without one. I like to watch TV while I’m on my treadmill. One of the many things I love about having my own home gym is that I’m not required to wear uncomfortable headphones while doing it!

Having a mat in place means that I don’t need to crank up the TV volume unless I want to (a requirement when I’m watching an action flick while running or walking).

Can you put a treadmill on a hardwood floor? 

It’s not recommended to put a treadmill directly on a hardwood floor. Even the most durable hardwood or laminate floors can get scuffed and damaged over time by a treadmill’s repeated vibrations. A treadmill mat is a must when installing a treadmill on a hardwood floor.

Hardwood floors are beautiful. It’s not unusual for a home to have hardwood or laminate in every room of the house. For those of you in that situation, you’re going to want to be careful when installing a treadmill.

First, even the most scratch-resistant laminate will scuff and scratch over time. The repeated vibration and motion of a treadmill is certain to cause this kind of damage. It’s not a matter of if; it’s just a matter of how long it will take to happen.

For this reason alone, you’ll want a high-quality treadmill mat in place. But there are other reasons too.

As I mentioned with cement, hard surfaces reflect sound. Rooms with hardwood floors already sound like echo chambers, and not using a mat is asking for lots of extra noise. 

Keeping the treadmill place is another big reason. Hardwood or laminate flooring will do nothing to keep your treadmill in place. This is annoying at best. You’ll be happy you have a mat to prevent this.

When you don’t need a treadmill mat 

I’m a firm believer in using rubber flooring in all home gym build-outs. I review all gym flooring options here in my complete guide to home gym flooring. Spoiler alert, I recommend rubber flooring.

There are two types of people typically use. One is horse stall mats. The other is ⅜” interlocking rubber tiles. I do a full comparison of those here. I do prefer the latter, but both can work well.

When it comes to installing a treadmill, both are ideal flooring to place the treadmill directly on. There is no reason to have a dedicated treadmill mat in this type of installation. The rubber flooring will keep your treadmill in place as well as absorb excess sound and vibrations.

Top 3 treadmill mats by floor type

Which mat you get will depend on the type of flooring underneath. Here are my recommended mats for carpet, cement, and hardwood. There’s also a bonus recommendation for a second floor and upper floor apartment installation. All of these can be easily purchased on Amazon.

One important note is to buy a full-length mat. You will sometimes see individual rubber feet sold to put under each corner of your treadmill. These are not ideal, and a full mat will work much better.

Best treadmill mat for a cement floor:

Amazon Basics high-density exercise equipment and treadmill mat

Best treadmill mat for carpet or a hardwood floor:

CyclingDeal Hardwood Floor Carpet Protection treadmill (3’x7’ treadmill version) mat

Best treadmill mat for a second floor:

Rubber-Cal Treadmill mat

Conclusion

So there you go! If you’re gonna get a treadmill, get yourself a treadmill mat too. That sales guy at the store isn’t just trying to add on something useless as an extra.

I can tell you from experience. It makes a big difference!

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