Last updated on March 24th, 2023 at 04:58 pm
When people budget for their home or garage gym, the first things on their list are almost always workout equipment. But what about your gym space itself? You’ll need to do a few things to ready your space to be a home gym in the first place. One of the most common is installing flooring.
Like the other rooms in your home, your gym will need flooring specific to your activities. Just like putting carpet in your bathroom isn’t a great idea, leaving the wrong type of flooring in your gym can also cause problems.
So, in addition to those dumbbells and a bench, you’ll need to make room in your budget for flooring.
- All home gyms need appropriate flooring.
- Costs can range from $3 to $30 per square foot.
- Buying the wrong flooring is a waste of your money.
- Rubber puzzle-piece flooring works best in home gyms.
- Rubber flooring costs range from $7 to $10 per square foot.
- Save money by self-installing.
How Much Does Home Gym Flooring Cost?
Rubber flooring for a home gym costs between $7 and $10 per square foot when self-installed. That puts the cost of flooring a standard 10’x10′ garage gym at $700-$1000. Budget options can be found for as little as $4 per square foot, while premium floors can cost as much as $25-$30 per square foot.
I’m not a big fan of budget flooring options, but they are certainly better than nothing. And while some of the premium options are tempting (custom colors, graphics, and logos all look amazing in a home gym!), most people will want to spend their money on equipment rather than a fancy floor.
That leaves you with a price range of $7-$10 per square foot. For a lot of people, that’s a reasonably significant unexpected expense. Expensive or not, having the appropriate flooring in your gym is important.
So instead of skipping it or going with dangerous low-cost options (more on that later), look at other ways to save while still getting all the benefits that the correct flooring provides. Let’s start by reviewing your different flooring options and their costs. Then I’ll cover how you can save some coin too!
3 Reasons You Should Install Rubber Flooring in Your Gym
The number one reason people don’t spend their money on something is that they don’t see the value. And it’s really easy to skip installing flooring in your gym if you aren’t aware of why you need it.
After all, a floor is a floor is a floor, right? Can’t we all train effectively on carpet or cement? You know, the flooring that is already there? The stuff that’s free?!?!?
As with many things in this world, there’s a big difference between can and should. You can jump out of a plane without a parachute… But you probably shouldn’t!
Protect Your Floor
Depending on the type of gym you build, you are about to place over 1000 lbs of weight on your gym floor. Not only that, but you’ll be dragging and dropping many of those heavy items directly on the ground at your feet!
If you currently have hardwood, laminate, tile, or carpet, that floor will get trashed in no time. Not only will it get ruined, but it will also become warped and uneven over time, which presents a safety issue.
If you are in a garage or basement with cement floors, you can still cause damage to your floor. Not as much as the other materials I referenced, but it can happen all the same.
The cost to repair or replace your existing floor will often be as much or more expensive than simply installing the correct flooring in the first place. It only makes sense to start off on the right foot and install rubber flooring up front.
The proper thickness rubber flooring (see my complete guide to gym flooring here for specific guidelines) will protect the floor underneath from damage. It will also resist damage itself. The nice thing about rubber flooring is that it will last a lifetime if you buy the right kind.
Protect Your Gear
Gym equipment is expensive. In fact, it can be shocking just how much some of it can cost. For example, a good set of adjustable dumbbells currently costs over $700!
There will come a time when you drop those dumbbells. Well-made adjustables can be dropped safely on rubber flooring. Not so much when it comes to concrete!
Adjustable dumbbells dropped on concrete will not only damage the concrete, but you may also need to replace the dumbbells. Replacing a set of $700 dumbbells because they were dropped to concrete will hurt much more than investing that $800 in flooring up front!
Remember, we aren’t just talking about dumbbells, either. This goes for weight plates, barbells, kettlebells, and anything else that may hit the floor mid-workout (including you!).
If you’ve ever had a factory, warehouse, or retail job where you stood around on a hard (often concrete) floor all day, you know the pain and soreness that comes with that.
It’s such a big deal that people often buy special shoes and even mats to stand on. They soon find themselves with ankle, knee, and hip pain if they don’t. Wait too long, and those aches become injuries requiring medical attention.
The same goes for concrete and tile flooring in a home gym. Except here, the chance of injury is even greater. At least in a factory or warehouse, it’s only your body weight causing the pain. Add to that the hundreds of lbs you lift or carry, and you just sped up your injury potential big time.
You’ll also want to consider how often you might be down on the ground training—kneeling on concrete hurts! Kneeling on rubber gym flooring does not.
The Three Main Types of Rubber Flooring For Your Home Gym
You’ll find three primary options when shopping for home gym flooring. In my opinion, only one of those options is suitable. But that said, I see all three used extensively, and I want to touch on each of them so you can make an educated decision.
EVA puzzle pieces
When you Google “home gym flooring,” the first things that show up are EVA foam tiles. These are also sometimes called EVA rubber tiles, but make no mistake, EVA is always foam and always the wrong thing for a home gym.
For that reason, it makes terrible gym flooring. It’s dangerous, won’t last, and is a total waste of your money. It’s excellent flooring for your kid’s playroom. It’s absolutely terrible for your gym. Please don’t use it!
Don’t fall for the marketing, as there’s a lot of it around this flooring. It’s incredibly cheap to make, lightweight, low-cost to ship, and comes in many cool colors.
If you still find yourself tempted (and this is usually because of the crazy low price point), please check out my full article on EVA flooring here.
Horse stall mats have been a staple in home gyms for a very long time. They are less expensive than manufactured rubber flooring, are easier to get, and serve the purpose of protecting your floor and your gear.
People keep buying them regardless of how often I recommend against stall mats. So, I figured I’d at least cover the cost here.
You can buy stall mats at your local Tractor Supply for as low as $55 for a 4’x6′ mat. That’s $2.29 per square foot and only $229 for a typical 10’x10′ home gym.
You can buy stall mats made specifically for home gyms (also sold at Tractor Supply or here on Amazon) in the same size for $150-$170. That’s $7 per square foot and $700 for the same size gym.
What’s the difference, you ask? I can’t stress how important this answer is:
One is made for horse stalls, and one is made for your home. The former doesn’t consider your health, and the latter does.
The difference? There is no regulation for rubber products made for animals. They are made with the lowest quality rubber held together by caustic chemical binders. Those low-quality materials off-gas dangerous VOCs and do so for a very long time.
VOCs from low-quality recycled rubber products have been directly linked to cancer (source). Please choose mats made for your home, which limits these VOCs if you decide to go this route!
Stall mats made for your home will still have an odor but will be a much healthier option for you than the mats made for horses.
There are many other issues besides odor and VOCs when using stall mats. At the very least, please buy mats like these that are much safer. We built our gyms to help our health, not hurt it!!!
Rubber Tiles or Rolls
Without a doubt, the best choice of flooring for your home gym is manufactured rubber. It comes in two forms, puzzle pieces, and rolls.
Don’t confuse the puzzle piece variety with the abovementioned EVA tiles. EVA should never be used in your gym, while rubber puzzle piece tiles are my top recommendation.
While rolls may seem more convenient at first, they are not. Rolls leave hard-to-close seams on your floor, and the different sections will move around.
See the video I posted above, where I installed rubber tiles in my garage gym. You’ll quickly see why I believe this to be your best gym flooring option.
So how much does this type of flooring cost? Depending on your thickness, it ranges from $7 to $10 per square foot. See my complete guide to home gym flooring here for all the details you’ll need to pick out the best flooring for your gym.
How To Save Money on Your Home Gym Flooring
First, please don’t use EVA foam tiles or the cheaper stall mats. I know the savings are substantial, but they simply aren’t the right choice for your home gym.
That said, there are some very good ways to save money on your home gym flooring.
Use Stall Mats (The Ones Made For Your Gym)
Again, DO NOT buy the $50 stall mats from Tractor Supply. The smell alone will make you regret your purchase.
But, the mats made for human use are an okay way to save money on your flooring and can save you a few hundred dollars (enough for a quality barbell!).
If you go this route, understand that there are quite a few issues with this type of flooring. Those issues have solutions, but it won’t be nearly as easy of an installation as rubber puzzle pieces.
Adam over at Garage Gym Lab made a great video showing how to best handle all of the drawbacks of stall mats here. Check out that video before buying and installing stall mats in your gym.
Only Cover the Area You Train On
One of the best ways to save money on flooring is only to install it where it’s needed. With a bit of thought, you might be surprised at how much less flooring you need than you initially thought.
The nicest-looking gyms have the same flooring throughout. A uniform wall-to-wall floor looks great! However, that cost can add up quickly if you have even an average-sized home gym.
Since the purpose of the flooring is to protect your floor, gear, and you, it’s only needed in a smaller area of your gym. You don’t need it under your cardio machine (instead, do this!). You don’t need it flush up to each wall. And you don’t need it in any area you aren’t actually training.
If you identify the portion of your gym that you need flooring in and only buy and install flooring in that area, you can save a meaningful amount of money.
Use a Lifting Platform
I normally only recommend a lifting platform if you really need it (see my full article on lifting platforms here). Deadlifts from the floor and Olympic lifting are the biggest reasons to build or buy one.
But if you don’t have the budget for flooring in your gym, you can DIY a lifting platform to be installed under your rack. If you build one that also extends out in front of your rack, it makes a reasonable substitute for flooring.
The cost of a DIY lifting platform is only a few hundred dollars. That represents drastic savings over installing flooring.
Install Your Own Flooring
I’m not a big DIY guy. The older I get, the more likely I am to pay someone to do things I don’t want to do. I just had new carpet installed in my house, and doing it myself wasn’t even a consideration.
Gym flooring, on the other hand, is remarkably easy to install. Unless you are laying down turf (which you’ll need professionals to do correctly), rubber flooring is meant to be self-installed.
This not only saves you on labor, but with how long good installers tend to be booked out, it saves you time too!
I probably sound like a broken record here, but this is just one more reason to go with rubber puzzle piece tiles. See the video above, where I show the installation process in my garage gym to see how easy it is as well as how nice it looks when done.
How Much Does it Cost to Have Turf Installed in a Home Gym?
With the growing popularity of sleds these days, it’s becoming more and more common to see turf in both home and commercial gyms. So it’s no surprise that home gym owners worldwide are installing turf in their garage or basement gyms.
Unlike rubber gym flooring, which is meant to be self-installed, turf needs to be installed by professionals. Because it must stay firmly affixed to the ground while you drag hundreds of pounds back and forth across it, it can’t simply be set on the floor and then used.
Depending on the type and quality of turf that you install, the cost of the turf itself will run $3-$7 per square foot. This does not include shipping, installation, or installation supplies.
When I looked at installing turf in my garage, it was going to be well over $1000 installed for a relatively small area. Not to mention, I still needed to buy a sled and its accessories.
If all you are considering turf for is a sled, I’d highly recommend looking at the Torque Fitness magnetic sleds. I personally use the Tank M1 sled every day and absolutely love it!
It cost less than the turf would have, and now I have a sled that’s silent and can be used on any terrain. It’s so much more versatile than a small section of my garage covered in turf would have been.
This also allows me to push and pull that sled much longer distances as I don’t need to stay confined to only the area I covered in turf.
Is concrete flooring okay for my garage or basement gym?
If you never drop equipment, don’t do floor-based work, and always wear good, supportive shoes, you can make due. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If you can at all afford it, install rubber flooring. Your joints will thank you for it.
Is carpet okay for a home gym floor?
Carpet can be a temporary solution but isn’t recommended for home gym flooring. It tends to be uneven and has too much give. This makes lifting heavy unsafe in some circumstances.
Carpet can also harbor dust, mites, mold, and allergens. Older carpet off-gasses dangerous VOCs as well. Again, if you can at all afford it, install rubber flooring in your gym.
Is quality different from one company to another, or is all rubber flooring the same?
Yes!!! Quality is very different. Always stick to a major company making rubber flooring specifically for indoor gyms. Reference my comparison above of $50 to $150 stall mats. The cheap version should never find its way into your gym!
Rubber flooring has a funny smell. How do I remove it?
You are in luck! I wrote a complete guide to this that you can read here. More importantly, don’t buy flooring with a strong odor in the first place! If you stick to the flooring I recommended above, odor will not be an issue.