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Don’t Buy Garage Gym Flooring Until You Read This

My gym has different areas for each activity. There is thick rubber under the machines and barbells. There’s glossy wood in the yoga studio. Martial Arts requires different traction and cushioning than machines and yoga. None of these is right for soccer and baseball practice. The garage gym flooring you choose has to match your activities to be “the best garage gym flooring” for your specific situation.

Rubber is the best garage gym flooring for machines and resistance training. It resists tears and provides cushioning. Vinyl tile is the best garage gym flooring for yoga. It provides the same traction as the wood floor at a yoga studio without cushion to throw you off balance. Vinyl is the best for Martial Arts for the same reason. Artificial Turf is the best garage gym flooring to practice field sports and agility training.

Rubber and vinyl are best at resisting sweat and oil. Rubber, foam and carpet have more shock absorption than vinyl and artificial turf. Foam is a lot like rubber. Foam costs less, avoids latex for those who are allergic, but tears much more easily.

Being barefoot adds back stability to a vinyl floor
Being barefoot adds back stability to a vinyl floor

Table: Best Garage Floor Types by Sport

Yoga

Martial Arts

Field Sports

Machines

Rubber

Foam

  • Cushioned
  • More Traction

Vinyl-Covered Foam

  • Cushioned
  • Less Traction

Vinyl

  • No Cushion
  • Less Traction

Carpet

  • Cushioned
  • Most Traction

Artificial Turf

  • Not Cushioned
  • Most Traction

Is it Bad to Work out on Concrete?

Working out on concrete is bad for your joints and potentially bad for the concrete itself. Concrete is very hard. It has no give. If your Cross fit studio has a concrete floor — and you enjoy that — you might enjoy a home gym concrete floor. Everyone else prefers rubber, foam, vinyl, carpet or artificial turf.

Concrete is especially cold in the winter. It holds onto moisture, so you will get a “wet cold” when you touch it. It’s especially hard to hold three-ton cars. If you land on it wrong, it will win and your joints will lose. If you drop a barbell on it, you can crack the seal and create divots you’ll need to patch.

Article Continues Below

More Garage Floor Info to Help You Decide

This work requires stability in the floor.
This work requires stability in the floor.

What is the best Home Gym Flooring to Place Over Concrete?

Rubber is the best over-concrete flooring for home gym machines and barbells. It won’t tear if you drop a weight; if it’s thick enough, the machine’s weight won’t leave deep impressions in the floor. Rubber and foam flooring are cushioned and have great traction, so they’re great for Yoga and floor exercises. Vinyl has a good combination of traction and grip for Martial Arts. Artificial Turf has excellent traction for agility training, plyometrics and field sport practice.

This barbell would tear a foam floor
This barbell would tear a foam floor

The Best Over-Concrete Flooring for Gym Machines & Barbells

Rubber is the best choice for a garage gym with machines and barbells. Rubber cushions you, and protects the concrete underneath. So long as the rubber is thick enough, heavy machines will not dig into the surface. It also needs to be thick enough to withstand the dropped barbell, as thin rubber might not  absorb enough of the shock to protect the concrete.

A carpet or thick rubber floor will hold this machine.
A carpet or thick rubber floor will hold this machine.

The Best Over-Concrete Flooring for Field Sports and Agility Training

Artificial Turf is the best over-concrete flooring for agility and field sport training. Artificial Turf copies the drag of an outdoors lawn. If you’d get grass burn outside, you’ll get turf burn inside. Artificial turf does not have much cushioning compared to rubber and foam. It’s a good choice for plyometrics and agility if you are going to transfer that training to outdoor fields.

Vinyl is more slippery than carpet, turf, rubber, or foam.
Vinyl is more slippery than carpet, turf, rubber, or foam.

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The Best Over-Concrete Flooring for Floor Work (Stretching and Abs)

Foam is the best over-concrete flooring for Yoga and floor exercising. It has support and traction similar to rubber, but usually costs less. You might also like vinyl tile for Yoga as it copies the feel of a glossy wooden floor. As with a Yoga studio floor, vinyl is slippery when you’re wearing socks but has grip when you’re in bare feet. Vinyl is not cushioned like foam and rubber, which are perfectly good choices for garage gym flooring as well. Rubber has the toughest composition, and foam gives you more cushion for the money. Both foam and rubber have more grip than vinyl.

If this barbell drops it can break the concrete under the rubber
If this barbell drops it can break the concrete under the rubber

The Best Over-Concrete Flooring for Martial Arts

Vinyl covered foam is the best over-concrete flooring for Martial Arts. The vinyl protects the foam from tearing, and reduces traction as well. The foam provides supportive cushion for falls. Foam and rubber have too much traction compared to the vinyl surface bonded onto the foam tiles. A vinyl floor (without the foam) does not have enough cushion to protect whatever body parts hit the floor during practice. For Martial Arts garage gym training, get a foam tile or foam roll with “reduced skin burn” coating.

Dumbbell work is easier on a rubber gym floor
Dumbbell work is easier on a rubber gym floor

What Thickness Should a Garage Gym Floor Be?

Thicker rubber and foam are more cushioned, warmer, and quieter. Get at least 6 mm rubber or 20 mm foam for lightweight work such as yoga. Get at least 8 mm rubber or 10 mm foam for gym equipment. If that equipment is very heavy, avoid the foam altogether, and go for thick rubber.

Use a cushioned surface for floor work.
Use a cushioned surface for floor work.

Rubber Garage Gym Floor Pros and Cons

Rubber is the most popular garage gym floor because it’s soft and cushioned. You should not hear much if you drop a barbell on thick rubber. Tough rubber resists denting under heavy machines. Rubber is durable and sweat resistant.

People with latex allergies know to stay away from a rubber gym floor. If you are keeping vehicles in the garage, note that rubber does not stand up well to gasoline (or any solvents). Rubber has medium traction making it perfect for weightlifting and a bit of a drag for yoga. Rubber is at the expensive end of the garage flooring option spectrum.

The rubber has to be thick enough to handle a rowing machine
The rubber has to be thick enough to handle a rowing machine

Foam Garage Gym Floor Pros and Cons

Foam has the cushioning, and softness of rubber. While it does absorb the weight of a barbell pretty well, it doesn’t stand up to scraping or pulling. Foam breaks down under pressure. It tears and once the inside is exposed, it doesn’t “heal” the way rubber does. Foam is a comfortable choice for yoga but has more traction than a yoga studio glossy floor. It does not hold up under heavy weight. Foam has a bit too much traction for Martial Arts, and is not durable enough for field sport training.

A rubber floor has the most stability except for vinyl
A rubber floor has the most stability except for vinyl

Vinyl Covered or Bonded Foam Garage Gym Floor Pros and Cons

Vinyl covered foam adds a strength and durability to foam that puts it on par with rubber. A vinyl-covered foam is completely covered in protective vinyl. A vinyl-bonded foam is vinyl on top and foam underneath. Vinyl has much less traction than rubber or foam. A vinyl-covered foam is more slippery than a vinyl floor. The covering doesn’t bind to the foam, so there’s room for play between the vinyl cover and the foam inside. A vinyl-bonded foam has more stability, but is still a slippery surface compared to rubber.

Machines do very well on vinyl-covered and vinyl-bonded foam garage flooring. The vinyl doesn’t tear the way foam does. The foam gives the vinyl a cushion that vinyl by itself doesn’t have.

Yoga is comfortable on vinyl covered or bonded foam. The foam cushions Martial Arts falls. The vinyl is a bit slipper for field training.

Vinyl Garage Gym Floor Pros and Cons

Vinyl tile is a good garage gym floor and should not be confused with a roll of continuous vinyl. The latter is a bad garage floor choice. Vinyl tiles are a good garage gym flooring choice. Vinyl sheet is a bad garage floor choice.

Vinyl has less grip than rubber, foam or artificial turf. That makes it good for yoga and floor exercises. It holds weight and protects the concrete underneath. It withstands machines and weights. It won’t break if you drop a weight on it, but the concrete might absorb the shock instead. Vinyl is a good choice for yoga, Martial Arts, and field sport training, but not a good choice for heavy-duty weightlifting.

Carpet Garage Gym Floor Pros and Cons

Carpet tiles have some cushion to them, but not as much as rubber and foam. Carpeting will protect the concrete floor from all but the worst barbell drops. Because it has so much traction, carpet will give a rug burn to those practicing Martial Arts. Carpet does add warmth to the room but it also traps dust. You have to keep it vacuumed or you will kick up trapped dust when you work out. The traction makes carpet good for yoga and less effective for Martial Arts and Field Sports. Carpet is not ideal for any gym floor but it is warm and definitely is better than working out on concrete.

Artificial Turf Garage Gym Floor Pros and Cons

Artificial turf is best for the reason it exists: practicing field sports indoors. The traction creates the possibility of skin burn, and the lack of cushioning makes it about as effective as carpet for very heavy machines. If you drop a barbell from one foot, it’s great. From higher up, the barbell might break the concrete under the artificial turf.

Artificial turf is not cushioned, so it’s not a good choice for Martial Arts. Heavy machines won’t dent it, but the fake grass doesn’t add anything to the experience either. Artificial turf excels at being a gym floor for plyometrics, soccer training, baseball training and agility training.

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