So you’re setting up a garage gym and in need of some flooring? Or perhaps you’re already set up with a gym and you’re tired of working out on a concrete slab? Sounds like it’s time to explore some garage gym flooring options. High-quality, durable flooring protects your homes foundation and your expensive exercise equipment, and even more importantly than that it can do wonders for you and your joints!
So what’s the best flooring option for your garage gym? Well if you’ve ever stepped foot in a commercial gym or CrossFit box (as I’m sure you have), you’ve seen the super dense, seamless rubber flooring they have installed. This is probably the best flooring option when it comes to both durability and aesthetics, but it’s typically more expensive than the average person wants to spend. So while I will definitely cover the commercial flooring options, I will also explore some more affordable gym flooring options as well.
Last updated: December 2017
Garage Gym Flooring Option 1: Commercial
Let’s first look at the commercial flooring I was just talking about; the type of materials that you would find in a global gym or nice CrossFit affiliate. If money is of no issue, commercial gym flooring is about as nice as you’re going to get. Expect to spend anywhere from $3.00 to $8.00 per square foot for this type of rubber flooring. If you want it installed professionally expect to spend even more.
There is one particular commercial option that is priced on the lower end of the commercial pricing spectrum but is still tough as nails. It’s called Aktiv by Regupol. It is offered in a ton of colors and a couple of different 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 to get a specific price. You can pick this up at Rogue, or any of a number of flooring shops both locally and online.
You can also buy a tiled version of Aktiv flooring called Aktivlok. I’ve seen pictures of the tile version as well and it looks 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; not too bad for such a high quality product). Definitely ideal for DIY installations in smaller spaces.
There are countless other rolled and tiled commercial options out there. I would suggest looking in your area for a dealer or contractor and getting some bids; if for no other reason than to get an idea of what you should be paying for professional installs. You can always turn to the Internet, but not all of the high ranking dealers are reputable. Do your research.
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 square 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 atlas stones. Each pad weighs about 27 pounds and they can be purchased either individually or in packs of various sizes.
Garage Gym Flooring Option 2: Stall Mats
This next option is literally just as good of an option for a garage 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 are 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 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 the extreme Texas heat and then winter cold. Admittedly, our winters have nothing on you Northern people, 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.
If you absolutely have to have these shipped and you’re okay with 1/2″ thick mats rather than 3/4″, XMark sells these for about $90 shipped on Amazon. It’s not ideal, but it’s not awful considering their weight.
A little advice when looking for these online. If the price is too good to be true, look closely at pics to make sure they aren’t super cheap. The cheap mats probably won’t be cut straight, probably won’t be as dense, and may even be completely or partially foam instead of rubber. Be mindful.
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 lightweight interlocking mats or tiles seem more suitable for putting under a treadmill or elliptical; something that doesn’t move around much, but still benefits from being off the foundation. 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.
Great write up!! I have one question. Is there any other alternative for lessening the vibration from dropping weights on the stall mats? I have neighbors and they can hear and feel when we drop out barbells on the ground. Could I possibly double up and stack two 4×6 mats on top of each other to reduce this noise?
I don’t see why you couldn’t double up. I don’t know how much it would reduce that impact vibration (I know exactly what you’re talking about), but it certainly wouldn’t increase it, and it should dampen the noise some. Tell them that you’re just too strong for the foundation.
Thanks for the reply! I have done lots of research and I have no other choice but to try and double up for my neighbors sake lol! Anyhow, thanks for a great website!!
Thanks Mark. Good luck =p
This is an interesting but labour intensive option: http://mulliganfitness.com/how-to-make-your-own-weightlifting-platform/
I know this is a really old comment but in case someone else wanders by and wants to try this…
For soundproofing rooms there’s something called “green glue.” Usually you put it in between layers of dry wall. Since sound is actually vibrating molecules, having space between two surfaces, or even better, a dampening layer that absorbs vibrations (green glue or some other insulating material), will cut the transmission of sound through surfaces. Will this work in between layers of horse stall mats for weightlifting? I have no idea! Is it expensive? I think so! But if anyone ever tries it I’d be really curious to see if it works.
I’ve seen some instances where they are doubled up, or for even cheaper padding, put your stall mats on to, and a piece of 3/4 inch plywood underneath, double the thickness, and the plywood is even cheaper than the mat…
If it’s shaking your garage, you have a void under your slab. I had the same issue and I paid a foundation repair company to come out. They pimped 9 cubic yard of material under the slab.
More stall mats won’t help. If you want to fix it, have someone come out and pump material under there.
OP – What size is that horse mat in the first picture you put under option two? And if I’m putting the mat on unfinished basement floor (essentially compacted dirt) do you think that pad is thick enough to prevent any cracking of someone soft compacted dirt flooring?
they’re 4’x6′, 3/4″ thick.
I don’t know anything about that kind of floor, but it really doesn’t sound like it. I wouldn’t be dropping weights on anything that isn’t a foundation unless you build up flooring somehow; like a platform. I doubt you have the height to be raising your floor by much though. You might want to ask a flooring expert about that though before you do much. Sorry I’m not more help with this one.
I appreciate the help! You’re right, not much height for my situation but cleans/deads/squats/snatch pulls are still doable. If I can get away with it i may throw a plywood board underneath the matting for extra support. Thanks again!
Hi. The horse stall mats you show do not have those terribly annoying ridges. I went to TSC and bought some mats but they have the ridges. Have you seen both mats are are they both available at TSC and at the same price?
Ridges? Like the diamond plate pattern?
I’ve been out to the TSC near me (two of them actually) many times over the years and they’ve only ever had the completely flat ones. I’ve only seen the textured mats online, usually at fitness outlets interestingly enough. If TSC only has textured mats, it may be a supply issue because I’m sure their preference (or that of their customers) is to have flat mats since livestock doesn’t need diamond patterned mats to stand on.
You might just ask the manager when he can get flat ones. If the guy is a unhelpful, call a different TSC and ask and maybe you’ll get someone more knowledgeable. Honestly, they should know a lot about the mats. It’s one of their most commonly sold out items and the re-order them in pallets every week.
I got some flooring for my home gym from Cumberland Rubber Supply, they do alot of different style textures. I have a checkered pattern in my gym half are textured mats and half are smooth. It looks really cool!
wait checkered as in just the texture of the mats? How’s that work?
I think what Carl was referring to is some manufacturing defects on the stall mats through TSC. I recently added a few more to the gym and the quality was much different/ lower than previous ones. IE: the finish is not as smooth on top- almost as if they had changed manufacturing methods when pressing the components together. Just resulting in a less “tight” feeling mat, almost as if they skimped on the binding solution. The edges still seem pretty straight, but the “ridges” that I think he is referring to are a bit of left over rubber fragments that you have to rough off with your hand. Not too bad, but maybe worth folks noting before purchasing. I think as time has gone on with the level of demand, the manufacturer/ supplier might be starting to cut a few corners. Seriously though, I spoke to a manager at my local TSC recommending they contact and monetize you for your inadvertent marketing. He said (in Houston) that they sell more stall mats than anything else going through at least 1 K per week just from this one store most all going for folks building their home gyms. Thanks again for all the help.
haha thanks… I think that they won’t want to pay me so long as it’s up for free. They do sell a lot though. The TSC by me actually starting locking them up behind a gate rather than leaving them out front like they did for years. I guess even stall mats get stolen.
What about sweat or moisture with the stall mats? I have a home gym in my Florida garage and I am a person who sweats a lot. The mats I have had never seem to dry overnight and they seem to get slick pretty quick which scares me for box jumps and stuff like that.
You can mop them – I do mine about once a month. You may have to do it more often if you sweat a lot, but they will come clean pretty easily and be like new.
Yes the diamond pattern. I did as you suggested and called a few TSC. I guess it’s a supply thing. TSC guy said he can’t choose. Different stores will have different kinds. In metro Detroit all the stores have the terribly annoying pattern. I suspect I won’t have luck finding the other style as most of the mats in CrossFit gyms around here have that pattern and I know they wouldn’t buy that if they could find otherwise.
I just picked some up and have two sides, too- one with grooves (diagonal cuts) and one with bumps (the diamond pattern, I think). My coach had the same and said he just puts the diagonal groove side up– feels flat to your feet and with nothing sticking up, nothing to snag you on your squat unracking!!
Currently living in Germany, I am active duty military(no access to Tractor Supply), going to be working with atlas stones, but don’t have a garage to put the mats down in,
what is the best option for using mats outside with all of the seasonal elements of Germany, What type of mat should I use, and where is a good place to purchase, if anyone has any suggestions for my situation, I’m open to all ideas and advice, thank you!
I don’t know where you’d get them in Germany, but the same style mats are not going to deteriorate outside in the elements. Stall mats are pretty resilient.
Have you experienced any damage to your Oly bars with the stall mats directly on the concrete floors? They are solid and it feels like the weight drops hard. Any damage to a bearings bar?
I have not. The force applied to the bar during a drop is minimal. The bumpers handle all of that. I’ve never even heard of damage to a bar’s bearings or bushings unless something negligent was done; like dropping with no plates, or dropping the bar on one end.
The reason people generally like to have a few layers of plywood between the plates and the foundation is for the sake of the foundation. Having a lot of weight continually dropped on such a hard surface is bad for the floor itself, and to a small extent the bumpers. The wood and rubber allow that shock to be more evenly distributed over that 8’x8′ surface rather than just a few square inches of where the bumpers landed.
Having just stall mats is more likely to damage your floors than the bar, but even that is quite unlikely.
I’m looking for stall mats that can be shipped to spain. There are a lot of options in Amazon.com but they aren’t shipped to spain.
The items in the Amazon.es doesn’t have a lot of reviews http://www.amazon.es/s/ref=sr_nr_n_0?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=n%3A2454136031%2Cn%3A2929784031%2Ck%3Asuelo&keywords=suelo&ie=UTF8&qid=1451492830&rnid=2665403031
And there isn’t a single stall mat near 3/4″ thick.
This is the most similar I’ve found
Its very cheap (3.3′ x 3.3′, 2.5″) $21.83, $2 per square foot
So I don’t have many options for stall mats. What suggestion could you give me?
There are also Multipurpose Rubber Tiles
Interlocking Eva Soft Foam Tiles
Those playground mats are too thick and too soft, you don’t want those. The interlocking mats from eBay are also too soft for actual weights and gym equipment. Foam will get torn up if you do anything other than jump rope or set an exercise bike on it. If you can’t find a local source for stall mats (someone in Spain has horses, ya?) then you can either spend very little on the interlocking foam and see how it goes, or go with one of the commercial dealers that sell the rubber flooring on the rolls… that will be expensive though, and will likely need professional installation unless you’re savvy.
Rogue EU sells their Oly platform and the rubber mats used for it (http://www.rogueeurope.eu/rogue-rubber-tile-24x24x1-5-eu). Depending on prices for commercial flooring, a platform (either purchased or assembled yourself) may be a better option. It wouldn’t be as cheap to make as it would be with access to stall mats, but it still may be cheaper. That’s lame that there isn’t an equivalent to a Tractor Supply Co out there somewhere. There’s no way you’d want to Internationally ship stall mats though. They are just too damn heavy and require freight shipping due to their size.
I’m between the second and the last from this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u2ei1mIXFU
What’s wrong with the tiles too thick and soft? It seems the the last from this video is like that and it says is for crossfit.
Can you link to both specific products that you’re talking about?
The first is http://importacionesmugar.es/pavimentos-gimnasios/357675-pavimento-sport-gimnasios-de-caucho-reciclado-en-rollo.html
The second is http://importacionesmugar.es/pavimentos-gimnasios/357658-losetas-de-caucho-reciclado-para-gimnasio-por-m2.html
And here are other options http://importacionesmugar.es/48269-pavimentos-gimnasios
So the second one at 20 mm is pretty much a stall mat. I still think that paying for the 40 mm variation is paying for more material than is necessary, but that’s just my opinion. I have to translate the page so I may not be getting all the information, but the 20 mm seems like a much better deal than the rolled 8 mm. Either one of these will work, but the thinner 8 mm is more for putting in an entire gym as a low impact surface, but the 20 mm mats make for much better platforms; something to drop a lot of weight on repeatedly. Also consider that the single, flat pieces will be easy for you to work with, and the rolled stuff will require more of an installation. That super thin 4-6 mm stuff I wouldn’t even consider.
hey jburgeson quick question. I am looking to purchase some stall mats from a TSC. Right now they would be left outside. I live up in the north east and was wondering how you think the rain / cold weather would affect them? I would probably only be buying about 6 of them for now and could move them inside if it snowed, so I am not worried about that. Just was wondering your thoughts on the rain / cold weather before I went a purchased them. Thanks!
I’ve actually had some 2-foot strips outside for a couple years now. I used them on the side of the house where there are some river rocks I don’t want to walk on and they look new. I don’t know how long it would take for weather to mess those up but I’m guessing a long, long damn time.
I have Horse stall mats. I used them for a bit in my garage. Worked great. We’re building a new house and these will be great in our basement gym.
Only problem when we moved them from garage there was mold/sweating that had occurred under neath. Anyone else deal with this? Do you think this could be avoided using a underlay like used with flooring??? My floors have in floor heating to. Likely never use but you never know in winter. Any thoughts? ??
I am sure there is a solution to that, but I don’t know what it is and I don’t want to just make something up.
Hey, great write-up as usual. I consulted this page when I first set up my gym a while back.
I ended up going with 3 squares of the regupol from Rogue. Works great for deadlifts (one on each side and one in the middle with just enough room for my deadlift stance). Another plus is if I ever get a platform (ceiling is too low here but maybe someday) I could use these for filling it out.
So I was all set for a while until I picked up a speed rope. Skipping on a paper thin carpet right on the foundation is pretty hard on the joints. I tried my gym mat but it is too squishy and really uncomfortable. I ended up using the three Regupol squares as a makeshift skip mat. It definitely helped some with the impact, but the dimensions are pretty limiting (you have line them up three in a row so the rope doesn’t get caught on an edge, and you barely have room for any lateral movement).
– It sounds like they handle weights just fine, but do horse stall matts absorb impact well as far as skipping, running in place, burpees etc? Or would skipping on a horse stall matt not be much better than a thin, firm gym mat or even just a carpet on the foundation?
I jump rope every day of the week for about 45 minutes – in jogging shoes on stall mats.. never thought of it as being too firm. They may not “give” like a gel mat, but they aren’t hard like the foundation or even a wood platform.
So I have had my garage gym for 2 years now! I have six stall mats and they work great for everything we do crossfit. I would say it’s so much better doing double unders on a stall may over the concrete floor. I have bad knees and currently have a torn ACL and stall mats work great. But I think a thin gym floor mat would be better than concrete. Stall mats are really heavy ( 100lbs ) so they don’t give at all..
Yeah they don’t compress but they must be just soft enough cause I’ve just never even once thought “man I need something else to jump on”. I’m certain ones shoe choice will have a lot to do with that though – some of those CrossFit/training shoes are far less comfortable than you’d imagine for repetitive jumping. /shrug… stall mats are still like the best priced and most durable product of any kind when it comes to a garage gym – $1.60 a square foot is insane for something that will outlive all of us.
Is there any difference in the type of rubber used in horse stall mats versus the rubber mats of other vendors like rogue or flooring companies. There are some significant price differences! Some websites advertise the rubber they use is stronger, and use terms like “vulcanized.” Some mats have waffle patterns that is suppose to absorb shock or distribute shock better. Wondering if all 3/4 ” mats are the same. I’ve already made a lot of cracks in the concrete.
What mats, if any, are you currently using? You’re not cracking your floor through stall mats I’m assuming – they are thicker and tougher than most commercial flooring options. I’ve never even heard of anyone damaging a stall mat, and having had my own gym covered wall to wall in them for many years, I can’t even imagine them breaking down in the least.
I currently have 3/8″ mats. The mats still look new, but when I moved the mats for cleaning, that’s when I noticed cracks in the concrete of my garage. I think the mat can stay intact, but transmit shock to the concrete underneath. I’m sure the 3/4″ will help. So wondering if the $50 4X6 mat at TSC is the same as the $140 4X6 mat from the fitness equipment vendor. Are there differences in the quality of rubber when it pertains to shock absorption?
What do you think about these mats? http://www.ironmaster.com/products/4-x-6-mat
I live in Hawaii and my shipping options are limited (unfortunately there isn’t a tractor supply co out here). Would these mats be similar to the horse stall mats that you recommended above? Would I be able to do some plyometric work and jumping side to side without these mats slipping and moving around?
They aren’t the same as stall mats – thickness is different. However, the weight of these mats at 70-pounds each is about what a stall mat would weight if you cut 1/4″ off the thickness, so I’d imagine they are a very similar material. 1/2″ thick isn’t as good as 3/4″ thick, and these are $100 rather than $40, but if your options are limited you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m sure that if not anchored against something they will slide around – anything would really.
Great information, I purchased the stall mats, they’re heavy and seem indestructible, great price for the quality. Thanks again!
I just bought some stall mats from my TSC for $30 each on sale for Black Friday and the finishing on the edges leaves a bit to be desired. None of the edges are straight. I had to turn them around several times to find the best fit on each one to avoid some highly visible and in some cases wide gaps. I’m more concerned with the gaps for sweat and dirt to get under there and get nasty.
A few of the ends of the mats are slightly curled up so they are not flat and create a slight tripping hazard. I’m hoping they flatten up with time.
On the bottoms of the mats here and there, mostly the corners, there’s unfinished edges with big chunks that I had to shave off with a jig saw in order for them to sit flat.
In your pictures jburgeson they look pretty straight, not perfect but alot better than mine do. I’m almost feeling like I’m not happy with them. Did any of yours have any big defections ever?
They aren’t always perfect, but you are describing bigger issues than I’ve ever seen or heard of. Perhaps they sell seconds for Black Friday?
Yea, I’m assuming they were just poor runs for BF. I’ve learned this lesson before about buying things on “sale” during or after BF.
I’ve got the rack positioned so the bad edges aren’t an issue and I’m going to cover the gaps so they’re not a problem. I know its a band-aid but oh well.
I bought mine from TSC and they were $40, but they’re all lined up perfectly, even, and square. Maybe that was a bad batch?
Thanks for the great write up! I just bought six of the 4′ x 6′ mats for my basement gym. They do have some rubber smell, but just seeing them in there it looks like a great place to work out. They were $40 bucks each and are 3/4″ thick, so this was a huge savings compared to the other flooring types out there. I appreciate the work that went into your article! Cheers!
Great write up! Any recommendations on what to do in the winter? I have a one-car garage Im going to put my gym stuff in (R-3W wall mount), but still need to be able to pull my car in. I live in the northeast, so car will have frequently have snow and slush on it. Not terribly keen on trying to lift on mats with standing water, etc. Thanks.
Yeah it happens for those of us who park our cars in our garages still. Rain and snow will get into the gym and onto the stall mats. Not much you can do about it. Most of it dries up over night, but I have a mop around for when it gets super wet. If it’s just a couple little puddles by morning, I just use a ratty towel to soak it up. I don’t think it matters what you use for your flooring though at least in terms of this issue.
Just curious how any of you have accomodated for the slight slope in the garage floor, if at all? Did you build a platform or just position the rack so when squatting your heels are slightly higher than toes? I’m also hesitant to bolt my rack to the garage floor since I do not plan on living in this house long term. So curious about alternative options for this, again a platform seems like it might be a good option.
Most homes have such a small grade that it can be ignored; as is the case in my gym. If it’s an obvious grade, you can either just deal with it, create a platform to compensates for the grade, or call a foundation expert to discuss professional options.
Anchoring a rack to a platform is indeed another option, as is buying a rack that doesn’t need to be anchored at all. A platform is in no way simpler or easier than drilling holes in the foundation and then filling them again when you leave though; that is assuming you are permitted to do so (as in, not renting.)
What do you think about putting a power rack and weights inside rather than in a garage, over a crawl space? I live in the Midwest and don’t want to deal with a cold garage in the winter, so was thinking about putting a platform in a spare ground-floor room, but want to be sure it wouldn’t damage the floor joists.
If you said you wanted a rack for benching and squatting I’d say you’d probably be fine, but since you’re talking about a platform and a rack (dropped weights), I’d suggest having a pro check your floors condition. A platform would dissipate the shock of a dropped bar no problem, but it could still do structural damage in the long run. Never know though, an expert could give you the go-ahead. I don’t see it happening though – what you’re wanting isn’t much different than second-floor installs, and that’s never a good idea unless it’s like an apartment with concrete foundations for each floor.
It would probably cost you less money in the long run to install a gas heater or heat pump (mini split) in your garage than to screw up any part of your homes framing. I’m in Texas so I was more concerned with cooling the hot air in the summer, but I bought a mini split with heat pump a couple years back and I’m not kidding, best money I even spent. It cools, it heats, and it does so very well for not even having insulated garage walls or insulated garage door. Just a thought.
Thank you for the advice! I don’t mind the idea of installing a heater in the garage, but also failed to mention that I have a lot of woodworking equipment in there and that it can get pretty dusty. I could probably make it work, but would have to consider how dirty everything would get whenever I used my saws.
I currently work out mostly at weights that allow me to mostly set the weight down in a controlled way, but I assume that won’t always be the case.
Ive heard nothing about off-gassing. The rubber stink may bother my wife’s sensitive nose.
A lot of these are kept outside. So when you buy them they are already pretty smell-less.
So somewhere I was reading that revulcanized rubber is the way to go (which is what stall mats are made out of). But, the problem is the mats can vary a bit in thickness and it is hard to get that perfectly smooth even flooring.
So is there an option in a roll form?
They really don’t vary though. I have a hodgepodge of mats from half a dozen trips to TSC over the years and I don’t notice any difference in the 3/4″ thickness. I mean yeah you can buy rolled rubber flooring for a lot more money than the mats, but it isn’t usually 3/4″ thick – I think it becomes unmanageable at that thickness when it’s rolled (just 24 square feet weights 100 pounds or so.) As far as foam goes, there are options but it’s not an ideal surface for weights. It’s okay to place heavy things ON foam, but I don’t think it wears well with dynamic movements on it. Maybe there is some space age foam, but again, you’ll pay for that if so.
If someone knows something I don’t about foam options, feel free to chime in.
Thanks for your article. This and several others of yours have been really helpful. I just moved to Texas from NJ and this will be my second time flooring a garage gym. Last time I used the 3/4″ stall mats from TSC but put a 3/4″ OSB plywood subfloor beneath them and secured the mats to that. I had an older garage (built in the 1920s) and felt this would protect older concrete better, and I also then was able to create a lifting platform that was flush with the stall mats by putting a stained piece of plywood (also 4′ x 6′ x 3/4″) on top of the OSB in sections that I did not mat.
I guess my question is whether you think that doing a subfloor is overkill / unnecessary (I now have a new construction garage) in terms of protection from loads dropped from overhead, etc. Also, if you wanted to create a lifting platform that was flush with the stall matting, could you put the plywood directly on concrete without a subfloor? How do Crossfit affiliates do their flooring to create platforms like this?
I’ve had only the one layer for years and never had a problem.. no cracks or anything. For a time there I also did what you’re talking about with just having the plywood flush with the mats and directly on the floor. It works, but it really does need to be anchored somehow because that wood will warp and deform over the months and years from moisture. It’s unavoidable really. I eventually got rid of it and now it’s just mats from wall to wall.
I gotta disclaimer this though… just because I haven’t smashed my foundation with only one layer of stall mats doesn’t mean it’s not possible. I think it’s extremely unlikely, but I am certainly no foundation expert. I’m fairly certain boxes and gyms only use the one layer as well, and sometimes even only 3/8″ rubber, but I’d have to guess that a warehouse has a pretty thick slab, and no doubt any building that was erected specifically for a gym has factored that into the design as well. I always tell people who are really worried about this to consult a local foundation pro. Might cost a consultation fee, but it should settle any worries.
Hey! I have some dumbbells, a bench, an exercise bike and a jump rope. I am wondering what type of flooring I should use in my garage that is about 8’x11′ am I’m very concerned with having something to be able to jump rope and jump on without doing damage to the shins, ankles, and knees. Should I look into Shock mats, stall mats, or the rubber tiles and what thickness should I be looking for? Any advise would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
I’m a jump roper – have been for years – 5 nights a week. I’ve been jumping on stall mats for all that time with no issue. They are firm, but it’s still rubber. You won’t be able to compress it with your feet but it has an obvious give to it. No doubt there is some perfect material out there for jumping on, and maybe it’s not stall mats, but it’s definitely not foam and it’s definitely not your foundation. And while stall mats are more than appropriate for jumping, it’s also ideal for the rest of your equipment (they are indestructible), and affordable. Tiles are the same thing basically but will cost you more and are more troublesome in terms of moving around, so I recommend just going with stall mats. You’d need four, they are 3/4″ thick and 4’x6′ at $39 a pop from Tractor Supply. You’d basically be chopping a foot off the end of a pair of them and that’s it (assuming your space is spot on 8′ across).
Thank you for the input! Yes there is quite a price difference, but I am glad to hear those mats have some give in them and should get the job done! Thanks again!
What do you feel is an appropriate size for an Olympic platform? 8’ x 8’ seems rather large but what do I know.
8×8 is standard and the easiest to build, but 6×8 is fine too, as is 4×8 for a deadlift platform.
I want to make a platform outside. What kinda foundation do i need?
If you want a squared off area for a platform outside your best bet is to lay a concrete slab/foundation and then just cover that with 3/4″ rubber mats. You can’t really have a standard wood platform or even really a metal platform outside because they’ll just get destroyed in the elements, especially a wood platform. Yeah pretty much just have to work on rubber mats on concrete I’d think.
Hi, planning to put 2 4×6′ stall mats in the garage, just for the purpose of deadlifting. Not intending to bolt them down… Planning to park 1 of the car over this area. Do you know if driving/parking a Prius-size car over the mats will damage them?
You will not ruin the mats by driving or parking on them. They are indestructible.
Did you test out parking on these mats? How did you go?
You can drive all over these things forever.
We need to add a wood platform to our home gym for added squatting stability. Our home gym is a spare bedroom with carpet flooring. We have a large rubber mat for deadlifting, but what would you recommend for more solid footing for squatting?
I was looking at platforms like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MFZHR3M?tag=outdoorchimp-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1. We’d love to avoid building something, but we want to make sure it doesn’t move. Any recs?
Does your mat feel secure and stable under your feet being that it’s sitting on carpet? What are you using for squat stands? Full rack, or independent stands?
Secure but not stable. Using full rack for squats.
I don’t envy the carpet situation.
Well, if you aren’t wanting to build something yourself then you may just have to do something like that platform you linked. I would think the larger the platform, the more stable it will be on that kind of surface. 8×8 would be ideal, or maybe even a 6×8 oly / deadlift platform (https://www.roguefitness.com/rogue-oly-platform or similar) with wood instead of full rubber mat coverage would be best, and it would solve for both your squat and deadlift. Probably also be cheaper than a full-sized, pre-built wood platform.
If you do go with a wood platform like that you linked, make sure the width is okay for your rack. There’s not really a standard for rack width. Can be 47-49″
Thanks for taking the time to break down all these different options. I am planning an outdoor gym and was reading about the (cheaper) stall mat floor solution you explained for garage use and wondering if this would also be viable for outdoor use, where the mats would be subjected to hot/cold weather and certainly a lot of rain. In your expert opinion, would I be better off pursuing a different option, or are stall mats a good way to go, keeping in mind slippage, traction and general weathering. Thanks a lot for your help!
Nick I’ve had stall mats outside on the side of my house where I keep all the trash and recycling bins for at least five years now and they literally look no different. They’re dirty from rain and get covered in leaves and such, but I could clean them up, bring them into the garage, and you’d never be able to tell me which mats have been kept in the whole time and which were out. Remember, these are actually meant for a stable, and they get covered and littered with Lord knows what in addition to be trampled on by very heavy animals.
Hi, this is a really great guide and website in general – tons of useful info in here for setting up a garage gym for the first time (especially for really not very practical people like me!).
One question on the mats, whether horse stall mats or gym mats, I’m curious how they feel for squatting. Obviously that’s one of the reasons for wearing squat shoes, to provide a solid surface underfoot, but my initial thought was that the mats might be a little squishy and lose some of that, but based on your guide and people’s comments, it sounds like that isn’t really an issue, is that right?
Thanks Matt, I appreciate that.
There is no give or squish to them. It doesn’t feel like walking/squatting on concrete or something else equally hard, but there is no give. You can set your power rack with all your plates on these mats and they won’t compress, and they certainly won’t with you standing on them no matter what you’ve got on your back.
Awesome, thanks for the very quick reply! If only the ordering/buying process at this time would be as slick…it’s going to be a bit of a wait to get it up and running, I think!
Currently I dead lift on a single layer of stall mats in the concrete-lined garage… What do you think of a setup inside the house on hardwood floor or tiles, but with a dead lift platform? Is that dead lift platform enough to prevent damage to hardwood floor/tiles?
Probably a 3-layer platform would be enough protection for hardwood, but I don’t know this for a fact and I’d be very reluctant to want to try it myself. I’m less confident about tile for some reason, though I don’t know if that’s warranted or not.
Great read…and very helpful. I didn’t see very many comments about body-weight workouts on the stall mats (burpees, push ups, sit ups, etc). Do stall mats work equally well for these sort of work outs? I am thinking about appropriate cushion and slip hazzard (especially when sweating). Thanks!
Stall mats probably aren’t going to be cut up and placed at the feet of employees who stand in place all day anytime soon, as they are rather firm, but there is enough give to them that you should feel like you’re not on a concrete foundation. Honestly just imagine what it felt like to walk around the Gold’s or Lifetime… it’s basically that same feel. It is softer and safer than a concrete foundation but it’s not like standing on foam mats. I can’t think of a better material for training on, and I’ve never thought of it as being slippery at all, even when wet.