Gym flooring is a crucial part of any successful gym fit out and is often not given the necessary consideration. This is why we have created this gym flooring buying guide to help you purchase the most suitable type of flooring for your requirements.
Far too often, we find that buying gym flooring is left until the very last moment and this is one of the most common mistakes made in the refurbishment of fitness facilities.
Fitness flooring is a speciality like the specification of the free weights, cardio or functional zone and needs to be part of the early planning of the space when considering the space allocation for each zone within the gym.
Plan How You're Going to Use the Space
When you initially create a plan or layout for your space, whether this is a refurbishment or a completely new project, give consideration to the space you have or wish to utilise for each zone of the gym. Don't start with choosing equipment, start with the zones or areas you want to have in your gym and the percentage of space you wish to allocate to each zone. Then think about the types of equipment you wish to put into each zone to identify the appropriately corresponding flooring.
Survey Your Existing Floor
It is important to be aware of the current flooring in the space. You will need to investigate the top layer and also what the flooring construction is. Is the floor concrete, a raised floor or wooden? Does the floor need to be screed or will any preparation be required to the underlay in advance of laying a new floor.
The underlay will completely depend upon the level and intensity of usage within the zone or area of the gym. An underlay may be required in certain zones if the equipment or floor will be at risk of damage. Free weights areas are likely to require an increased level of impact absorption and will hence need a thicker underlay. In any area where there is a risk of impact to either the floor or equipment then an impact absorption underlay may be required.
Flooring and Equipment Life Cycle
Fitness equipment will often be considered to have a 3, 5 or 7 year life cycle depending upon the usage, brand and specifications it has. We would recommend giving the life cycle cost of the flooring consideration at the fit out stage so you don't have to replace the flooring in advance of the equipment in the gym which can sometimes cause a great deal of inconvenience.
What Type of Flooring?
The next question you need to ask yourself is; How is the floor going to be installed? There are three main types of flooring.
Rubber flooring rolls are often a cheaper option than tiles and installation involves much less work. Depending on how thick the rolls are they are made in varying lengths.
Gym flooring rolls are sometimes preferred because they give a much smoother look to the floor because there are far fewer joins. Fewer joins also means there is no chance of gaps forming or becoming loose at the floor is walked on.
Gym Floor Tiles
Simple square tiles are more common in medium depth to thicker tiles as opposed to
thinner tiles up to 10mm. It's important that these are laid properly as they will normally have to be fastened to the floor. The reason for this is that because they are not interlocking, the edges need to be accurately fastened to ensure there are no gaps or imperfections.
Interlocking Floor Tiles
Many gym flooring products use a jigsaw locking system and are heavy enough that this type of installation will be perfectly secure without the use of adhesives. However, the thinner the flooring is, the less secure these connections will be.
Some flooring which can expand and contract in different climatic conditions will require expansion joints and this is often something which is overlooked.
Gym Floor Colour and Custom Designs
As well offering a massive range of colour options, some of the industry’s most innovative manufacturers have begun offering fully bespoke options with the facility to design training aides, for example boxes, agility ladders and functional zones. There have even been companies developing ranges of flooring which integrated lighting panels to create innovative new workout options.
The choice of flooring colour is also something we would stress to give careful consideration in regards to the type usage of the zone is subject to, the rest of the decor and the cleaning this zone may require. With manufacturers using differing techniques for dyeing rubber flooring it's not uncommon for some poorer quality rubbers to become discoloured after relatively little use.
Integration, Edging and Cornering
Another consideration to look at is how flooring merges with the rest of the floor around it or where it ends. This needs to be looked at carefully when carrying out your planning to make sure that there are no trip hazards or problematic overlaps between two areas of flooring. If corners and edges aren't where the floor meets the wall, then you will need to look at buying extra corner and edge jigsaw tiles.
As always, premium options and budget options are available. It is important to weigh up budget implications and quality of the flooring product you are looking at. Flooring may seem expensive at first glance but when you consider the value of the floor underneath and the equipment it is there to protect you will realise it is a necessary expense.
It is also critical to not just consider the initial cost of the flooring but the usage of each zone and the life span of the flooring. If you give consideration to the lifespan then you can work out the life cycle cost. Some flooring maybe more expensive but could last twice as long, thus working out as a less expensive option over the products life time.
The most important consideration for anyone thinking about buying gym flooring is simply, what will each zone of the space be used for? To try and help, we’ve broken the types of gym flooring available down into three categories:
1. Fitness Flooring
Fitness flooring needs to be versatile and high performing, as we all know that this can often incorporate a functional rig within the space as well. The flooring required for this will ideally protect the floor below and provide some impact absorption for the user and the equipment being used. Often this area will have markings designed and cut into the flooring such as ladders and movement circles. You will always get some people trying to us this as a free weight area by bring over heavier weights and if this does happen this will have a detrimental effect on the flooring.
Even in areas where there will be little or no heavy weights, we would still recommend tiles between 6mm and 10mm to protect the floor and equipment accidental impacts.
One important feature of this type of flooring is that it needs to be moisture resistant. When flooring tiles aren’t adequately water resistant it can lead to an unpleasant and unhygienic environment. There also needs to be a good level of grip so dynamic movements can be performed safely.
The installation of this type of flooring will be very important, firstly because you’re not likely to be moving it again until it needs replaced, and also because of the high level of use it is likely to receive. Edging and expansion joints also key considerations.
2. Free Weights Flooring
Specific free weights flooring is absolutely essential for any area on which heavy weights are likely to be dropped. The two key reasons for this are to protect the valuable weights being used in the gym and to protect the floor from the impact that dropping weights is likely to have. Free weight flooring is the thickest we would recommend for home or commercial use and will be at least 10mm thick.
Free weight flooring in gyms for years has been 500cm x 500cm square, dense black tiles and even under regular usage this flooring can be adequate. This tile in an 8, 10 or 12mm thickness will realisticially only protect the floor below and not the dumbbell or weight plate. There is no impact absorption or give in this flooring so when a weight hits the floor the impact is not absorbed it all goes back into the weight and will over time and continually being dropped shorten the life of the weight. We would strongly recommend having a flooring that also have a softer sub layer or a design to allow for impact absorption.
Free Weight flooring is the most heavy duty of the types of flooring available and will withstand the largest impact and volume of wear. If the Olympic lifting area is far removed from the rest of the gym and facility, then noise may not be an issue. However, if you are in a residential environment or are surrounded by other, quieter areas of a sports centre or office block, for example, then the vibration and clatter of weights hitting the ground will be probably be extremely disturbing and off-putting. Good free weights flooring will minimise vibrations and reduce the noise of impact.
3. Interlocking Gym Flooring
Interlocking gm floor mats are one of the most popular solutions both for home and commercial gyms. They are very easy to lay and offer a simple way to give your space a protective covering. There are interlocking tile options to meet a variety of different needs including budget options made from EVA foam which are an incredibly cheap an effective solution for covering a home gym which is just used for light weights and cardio training. The other material which interlocking tiles are commonly made from is rubber, which is far tougher than EVA.
Other Flooring Solutions
Some gyms choose a variety of flooring options other than tiles and rolls of matting. Some places opt to use a hard wearing thin carpet under fixed resistance machines or in other areas. The difficulty you face when using carpeted areas is that they are far harder to clean than solid flooring and can become unpleasant after a while.
Linoleum and real wood flooring is also used in some gyms and sports centres. The downside of using one of these classic types of flooring is that they provide very low impact absorption loud and also don't provide a particularly good grip.
Most of the treadmills and indoor cycles that we sell are bought along with a mat for underneath. Protective cardio equipment mats are ideal for home equipment that isn't in a permanent position. These PVC mats are about 6mm thick and provide great grip and protection for the flooring underneath your equipment.