So you’re setting up a garage gym and in need of some flooring; or you’re already set up with a gym and you’re tired of working out on a concrete slab? It’s time to explore some garage gym flooring options. Good, durable flooring protects your homes foundation, your expensive exercise equipment, and most importantly, you and your joints!
So what’s the best flooring for a garage gym? Well if you’ve ever stepped foot in a commercial gym or crossfit facility (as I’m sure you have), you’ve seen the dense, seamless rubber flooring they have installed. This is probably the best flooring option when it comes to both durability and looks, but it’s probably more expensive than the average person wants to spend. So while I will cover the commercial flooring option, I will also explore some more affordable gym flooring options as well.
Garage Gym Flooring Option 1: Commercial
Let’s first look at the commercial flooring I was just talking about; the type of material that you would find in a global gym or nice Crossfit affiliate. If money is of no issue, commercial flooring is about as nice as you’re going to get. Expect to spend anywhere from $3 to $8 per square foot for this type of rubber flooring. If you want it installed professionally, expect to spend even more.
There is one commercial option that is priced on the lower end of the commercial pricing but is still tough as nails. It’s called Aktiv by Regupol. It is offered in a ton of colors and a couple thicknesses, and it is sold on rolls rather than as tiles. As far as specific pricing goes, it’s about $2-3 per square foot but most retailers require you to ask for a quote (annoying, I know). You can pick this up at Rogue, or any of a number of flooring shops locally and online.
You can also buy a tiled version of Aktiv flooring. It is called Aktivlok. I’ve seen pictures of the tiled version as well and it looks pretty seamless once installed. I’m sure its just as nice of a product as the rolled version. Also prices are more readily available without asking for quotes (it sells for about $3-$4 per square foot). So not too bad for such a high quality product. Definitely ideal for DIY installations in smaller spaces.
Multipurpose Rubber Tiles
Rogue sells 24″x24″ multipurpose rubber tiles that are 1½” thick for about $34 each. These are fairly expensive at about $7-$8 per squat foot, but they are twice as thick as just about any other option. Rogue uses these very same tiles for both their 4’x8′ deadlift platform and their 8’x8′ Olympic lifting platform.
I don’t like the size of these for laying a permanent floor unless you plan to secure them in place somehow, but these are great for making platforms and for some other odd jobs like deficit deadlifts, raising box height for box squats, and as a super thick catch pad for dropping atlas stones. Each pad weighs about 27 pounds and they can be purchased individually or in packs of various sizes.
Garage Gym Flooring Option 2: Stall Mats
This next option is practically as good an option as the above-mentioned commercial flooring, but for a hell of a lot less money. Believe it or not, it’s horse stall mats. They are ¾” thick 4’x 6′ rubber mats that run about $40 each (only $1.66 per square foot). You can cover some serious square footage for not a lot of money by using these mats.
My own garage gym is outfitted with these stall mats and I absolutely love them. They’re thick, durable, affordable, and they both lay flat and line up when set side by side. I also like that they’re relatively easy to cut. I’ve had to cut up mats to get them flush against the wall, and I’ve cut holes for the feet of my power cage so that I could anchor it directly into the concrete (image below). I personally outlined the holes with a Sharpee and then cut with a jigsaw, but I’ve seen videos of guys just dragging a box cutter around the feet of a rack.
As I mentioned, these horse stall mats are extremely durable. Walk into almost any CrossFit box and you’ll see stall mats rather than commercial flooring. Why? Simply because they work. I drop loaded bars and heavy hex dumbbells on these mats on a daily basis, and have done so for years with not one rip, tear, dent or any other damage to the mats.
They also hold their shape. If you bunch four or six of them together in a rectangle, they all line up (look at the nice line where the mats meet up in the picture above). Mine have never warped or deformed, and they’re in a garage where they are exposed to extreme Texas heat and then winter cold. Admittedly, our winters have nothing on you Northern folk, but you get my point.
Before you run off to buy some of these, you may want to know that they are quite heavy. Each mat weighs in at about 100 pound, so get help from a friend when you pick these up at the store (Tractor Supply Company has them for $39.99). You can find these online, but because of the weight, I suggest you grab a truck and go pick them up yourself and save a small fortune on shipping. You should be able to find these at any feed store if you don’t have a TSC nearby. I have an article where I talk about working with these mats here.
Garage Gym Flooring Option 3: Interlocking Rubber Tiles
Finally there is the super economical option. CAP Barbell makes ½” thick interlocking foam tiles that you can purchase from local sporting goods stores like Academy or Dicks, or even online at Amazon. It’s cheaper than any other option presented so far, but you get what you pay for.
If you’re going to be dropping loaded barbells, kettlebells, or dumbbells consistently, you may want to avoid these. There are numerous reviews on Amazon about how horrible these are when used for weightlifting. Other complaints include being unable to jump on them because they come apart, tiles not lining up no matter how you turn them, and some tiles actually being different heights. Personally, you couldn’t give me a CAP product, but despite the low-quality these are still a popular item.
The hardware stores also sell versions of the interlocking vinyl or rubber tiles. The online reviews are hit or miss, and the specs don’t look all that great for the price (they seemed thin). Still, another option for you to consider.
Gym Flooring Options Summary
The more lightweight interlocking mats or tiles seem more suitable for putting under a treadmill or elliptical. Something that doesn’t move around much, but will still protect the floor underneath. For explosive movements with bumper plates, especially movements where a failed rep means dropping the bar like the Olympic lifts, I would at the very least go with the heavier duty mats like the horse stall mats.
If you’ve installed garage gym flooring that wasn’t mentioned here and you love it, leave a comment and tell us about it. I’d love to offer more viable options for new visitors.