Last updated on October 27th, 2021 at 09:40 am
If you go to almost any home improvement or sporting goods store (in person or online) and search for “home gym flooring,” you’ll almost always find EVA as a recommended option. EVA is one of many different materials explicitly marketed as “home gym flooring.” The problem with most of them is that they are not well-suited for that job and this is especially true of EVA.
EVA rubber or foam is not an appropriate floor for your garage or basement gym. It is far too soft and pliable, does not provide a stable or safe surface, and isn’t durable enough to withstand regular resistance training. A much better option is rubber flooring made specifically for installation in your home gym.
Let’s take a quick look at why and see what type of flooring will work much better for you. Covering your floor isn’t a small investment, and it’s important to get it right.
Do you even need to put down flooring in your home gym?
Quality flooring is a must-have in most garage or basement gyms. Training directly on concrete can be hard on your joints and uncomfortable for ground-based movements. Installing proper flooring in your home gym will protect you, your floor, and the expensive equipment you train with.
What should you look for when buying home gym flooring?
There are several key qualities you want from the flooring you install in your garage or basement gym. The flooring you install in your gym should have:
- A safe and stable surface to train on. It should be a smooth, seamless surface that stays in place and does not move around.
- Cushion to protect your joints. Training on concrete can be hard on your knees and other joints. Your floor should have a small amount of give in it to protect those joints.
- Protection for your floor. This is especially true if you are dropping weights to the floor, but it is needed even if you don’t.
- Protection for your equipment. You will end up dropping weights, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and all sorts of other things to the floor when training. Your flooring should protect them all.
- Support for your stationary equipment. Power racks, treadmills, bikes, rowers, and other large pieces of gear need a firm and durable surface to rest on.
- Easy to install. Home gym flooring should be a relatively easy do-it-yourself project.
- Look good. There is very little that will make a home gym look better than an attractive floor! We want our home gyms to look great, so we enjoy spending time in them.
Why EVA is not suitable flooring for garage and basement gyms
EVA can be called foam, rubber, or some combination of both, but regardless of the label, it’s always referring to the same thing. A thick, spongy, rubbery foam that has a lot of give to it.
When we look at the list of what is required from home gym flooring, it’s easy to see why EVA is not only a bad option but is probably one of the worst possible options we can choose.
- Too much give. EVA compresses far too much and too easily. It shifts under your weight and does not provide a safe or stable surface to train on.
- It’s unstable. While you want some cushion to protect your joints, having too much can cause you to shift and move in unwanted ways. This can be dangerous to your joints and easily results in rolled ankles and twisted knees.
- It’s not durable. It’s foam. Foam does not stand up to the heavy use that a home gym floor must endure. It will quickly compress, rip, and tear.
- It does not protect your floor or equipment. At least not as well as other options. The things in your gym are heavy. Foam simply doesn’t work as well to protect them as does a firmer, denser rubber.
- It does not hold up well. EVA foam will quickly compress permanently, tear, or wear through under large, heavy items.
Alternatives to EVA foam for your home gym floor
If you look on YouTube or a lot of other home gym sites, you’ll see people recommending horse stall mats as an ideal option for home gym flooring. For me, horse stall mats have far too many drawbacks to use in a home gym (I wrote a complete article outlining why that you can see here).
Instead, I use and recommend purpose-built rubber gym flooring. A 5/8″ or 8mm thick puzzle piece floor will be perfect for most garage or basement gyms. This is what I use myself and recommend to 90% of the people I talk to.
For those lifting very heavy (400 lb deadlifts, etc.) and dropping those weights to the floor, a slightly thicker, 1/2″ flooring will be appropriate. You can see my recommendation for that option here on Amazon.
For those lifting even heavier than that or who are concerned about floor damage, check out my articles on preventing deadlifting floor damage and on whether or not you should build and use a lifting platform.
This one is easy. Don’t use EVA foam or EVA rubber for your garage or basement gym floor. It’s not safe, it won’t last, and you’ll end up replacing it sooner than you’d like.
Instead, head on over to Amazon and pick up one of these two options:
Are EVA foam and EVA rubber the same thing?
Yes. Technically, Ethylene-vinyl acetate, or EVA material, is an elasticized closed-cell foam with rubber-like softness and flexibility. EVA mats will have a glossy appearance and are resistant to UV radiation and cracking. (Source -GreatMats.com).
Many flooring companies are now calling it EVA rubber to try to market to home gym owners more effectively. EVA in any form is not a good option for your gym floor.
What about EVA foam that has a layer of rubber on top?
Nope, still no good. The foam still has too much give and is not as durable as solid rubber flooring. Again, no matter the format, when you see “EVA,” find a better option.
If it says “gym flooring,” is it okay?
Unfortunately, EVA is often marketed as ideal for home gym floors. It is not. Don’t be fooled by the title. EVA rarely makes a good floor for a home gym.
Are there any applications EVA is good for?
Yes! EVA is perfect for kids’ playrooms. It’s soft and pliable and makes an excellent base for your kids to play on the ground.