Trying to decide about flooring for your garage gym? Don’t sweat it. Here’s a simple guide to your main options, pros and cons, and tips for installation. Whether you’re building your dream home gym to get that ripped Aquaman or Amazonian look — or you just need something basic to help you stay fit, flexible, and lose those extra quarantine pounds — we’ve got you covered.
Before you start shopping for options, think about your preferences and workout plans. The type of gym flooring you need if you’re into serious weight lifting, crossfit training, or universal machines will be quite different than if you do strength training with light weights and floor exercises.
Main factors to consider when choosing garage gym flooring:
- Your workout style — Are you a weight lifter or into crossfit training? Do you do high-impact aerobics? Do you practice Pilates, PiYo, or other floor exercises?
- Type and weight of exercise equipment — Do you use heavy weights along with a power cage or rack? What about universal machines, treadmills, exercise bikes, rowers, and other equipment? Are any of these in your future?
- Size of your space and budget — Is this a large area that will require a lot of flooring material or relatively small? What are your budget constraints?
- Other garage uses — Do you need gym flooring that can handle other uses, like DIY projects and tools, or parking the car?
- Appearance — How do you want it to look? Do you want a bright, fun look or are you more about the basic function?
Don’t forget about installation and maintenance
After you’ve focused on the fun stuff, be sure to cover these practical considerations before shopping for garage gym flooring:
- Moisture level in the garage — Does your garage floor get moist or stay dry throughout the year? If your garage gets a lot of moisture, you may want to avoid certain types of flooring (we’ll cover that later).
- Cleaning and maintenance — Are you concerned about keeping the floor clean, especially if it’s a shared space? Looking for durability and easy cleaning?
- Installation plans — If this is a DIY project, how easy or hard is it to install or work with? Is it heavier than you can handle? Do you have room to move or store your stuff during installation?
Now that you’ve got a good idea of your needs, let’s get into the types of garage gym flooring and how they fit with your workout style and plans. In terms of the actual workout surface, most people go with either rubber or foam gym flooring. But what goes underneath? While many people simply lay their rubber or foam gym flooring on top of their existing garage floor, others prefer to apply epoxy finish to the concrete to create a more durable and attractive surface. So that’s where we’re going to start. (Use the links to skip to the sections you want.)
Epoxy garage gym flooring: Extremely durable, stylish, and multi-purpose
In addition to adding an extra layer of heavy-duty protection to the concrete subfloor, epoxy flooring adds color and shine. It usually comes with decorative chips that are added to the mix or sprinkled on the floor to create a unique look. Although you can have professionals install the epoxy, it’s also a relatively simple roll-on DIY process.
These qualities make epoxy a good choice if you’re using your garage for more purposes than your home gym — whether for DIY home improvement projects, parking the car, or more. That’s why Stacie Walker, an avid DIYer and influencer living in the Atlanta suburbs, and her weight-lifting husband chose epoxy for their garage, which does triple duty as home gym, tool and project center, and even a kids’ play area.
“For my husband, the epoxy was really important because aesthetically it looks better — it really pops. But it also helps with maintaining the integrity of the concrete floor,” says Stacie. Besides making sure the garage floor is protected from damage from all their home projects, she says it’s a dream to clean.
“The thing I really, really love is the cleanup. The fact that I can sweep it, mop it, and things won’t absorb into the concrete like they did before. It’s easy to clean up and get rid of debris,” says the busy mother of three boys ages 3, 5 and 6. “Plus, sometimes I send our boys out there just to run off some steam when the weather’s bad.”
According to Stacie, applying the epoxy was a straightforward process using an epoxy flooring kit they got at a home improvement store. (More on installation later.)
Epoxy garage flooring costs (for a 2-car garage): For a DIY job, it will cost from $150 to $500 for your epoxy flooring kit and other materials. Professional epoxy flooring installation will cost from $1,500 to $2,500.
Epoxy Garage Flooring Pros:
- Durable and heavy-duty enough for multi-purpose use
- Protects garage subfloor
- Hides flooring imperfections
- DIY or pro installation
- Very easy to clean and maintain
- Much more attractive than concrete
Epoxy Garage Flooring Cons:
- Slippery when wet
- Everything must be removed from entire garage for installation
- Drying process takes 3-7 days
- Professional installation can be costly
- Releases toxic fumes (protective gear required)
- Not ideal for moist environments (moisture can get trapped between subfloor and coating)
Whether you choose to go with epoxy flooring or decide to stick with bare concrete, you’ll still need some type of cushioning to protect the subfloor and provide a comfortable surface for exercising and equipment that absorbs impact. That brings us to rubber or foam gym flooring.
Rubber gym flooring: Best choice for heavy workout machines, weights, and equipment
Widely used in commercial gyms, rubber flooring is considered the most durable choice for supporting heavy equipment like exercise machines, treadmills, and power lifting racks. The material is tough enough to handle the shock of dropped weights — but only up to a point. (Don’t expect to repeatedly throw 50-pounders around without making a dent.) Rubber flooring also offers great traction, whether dry or wet from your sweat.
What’s rubber gym flooring made of?
The black material is made of recycled rubber, with colored flecks, which are made of synthetic rubber — or ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) — to be precise.
What about cleaning rubber gym flooring?
The higher the quality (and cost), the denser the surface, which makes it longer lasting and easier to clean by damp mopping with mild soap and water.
If you decide to go with rubber, some gym flooring experts strongly recommend buying only American-made, because you’ll know exactly what materials are used. Some American gym flooring manufacturers even offer indoor air quality certification, which can be important for avoiding bad odors or excessive off-gassing. (Hey, we know you’re tough, but it’s kinda counter-productive to jeopardize your health while you’re working out.)
Rubber flooring comes in three options:
- Interlocking rubber gym tiles: These are great because they’re lighter, easier to handle, and can be used like puzzle pieces to customize your own home gym areas.
- Rubber gym flooring rolls: If you’re covering a larger area, like maybe the entire garage floor, rubber rolls are a good choice because the price per square foot may be less than tiles and they show fewer seams. However, rubber is heavy, so these can be harder to work with than tiles.
- Rubber gym workout mats: With most mats in 4’X6′ size, these can be a good choice if you just have one or two areas you want to set up, such as beneath a heavy machine or a lifting rack. Choose from ¼” to ¾” thickness, depending on how much cushioning you want. Weighing in at about 60 to 75 pounds, the mat won’t move once it’s placed on your garage concrete floor. A good quality ⅜”-thick mat will run about $150.
How thick should rubber gym flooring be?
The most popular thickness for rolls is ⅜”, while mats range from ¼” to ¾”. If you often drop super heavy weights, then opt for at least ½” to be safe.
How much does rubber gym flooring cost?
Rubber gym flooring rolls range from $1 to $7 per square foot, but the most popular rolls average $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot. Rubber floor tiles generally range from $2 to $4 per square foot. A good quality ⅜”-thick, 4’X6′ size mat will run about $150. Many variables affect the cost.
Rubber Flooring Pros:
- Highly durable, great for heavy equipment and weights
- Easy installation if you can handle the weight
- Easy to clean
Rubber Flooring Cons:
- More expensive than foam
- Heavy, making it more difficult to move it around
- Potential odor, as rubber is made from petroleum
Foam gym mats for garage flooring: Most budget-friendly choice for lighter-weight needs
If your workouts involve lighter weights and/or exercise programs like yoga, Pilates, PiYo, aerobics, or P90X, dense EVA foam mats make a practical choice that’s a lot less expensive than rubber gym flooring. (Don’t get us wrong: We’re not saying that these exercise programs are any less intense or heavy duty than weight lifting. They just don’t require heavy-duty flooring.)
Foam gym mats absorb impact well, which can provide important protection for your joints. They’re also soft enough to lay down on for stretching and floor exercise. However, foam mats won’t hold up if you have heavy exercise equipment such as a treadmill, as the foam will compress from the weight, creating deep indentations.
Since foam mats are less dense, they don’t provide as easy a surface to clean as rubber. Mopping doesn’t work well, but you can wipe them off with a damp cloth. On the other hand, being lightweight, foam mats are much easier to work with, and you can just take them apart and shake them out if needed.
Foam gym mats come in two main options:
- Interlocking foam mat tiles: These look like giant puzzle pieces and usually come in sets. For example, six 24″X24″ interlocking tiles, which will cover 24 square feet or a 6’X4′ area. These are good for versatility and portability.
- One-piece foam mats: These mats generally come in a few sizes, starting slightly larger than a typical yoga mat at 6’X4′ and ranging up to 6’X10′. The benefit is that these mats won’t come apart while you’re doing a downward dog pose or mountain climbers.
How thick should foam gym mats be?
While the most popular foam gym tiles are about ½” thick, they can go up to ¾” to 1″ in thickness, if you need more impact absorption. One-piece foam gym mats are generally just ¼” thick, which is a good bit thinner than tiles.
How much do foam gym mats cost?
A set of six 24″X24″ tiles, which will cover 24 square feet, costs as little as $25. One-piece foam gym mats typically cost from $140 to $280, depending on size.
Foam Gym Mat Pros:
- Least expensive option
- Helps protects joints during high-impact exercise
- Comfortable for yoga and other floor exercises
- Lightweight, portable, and easy to work with
Foam Gym Mat Cons:
- Least durable option
- Not suitable for heavy equipment or weights
- Foam tiles easily come apart during certain exercises
- More difficult to clean
Installation Tips for Garage Gym Flooring
All of these types of flooring are pretty simple to install, but there are a few tips that will help the process go smoothly and set you up for workout success.
- Prepare the surface: Make sure the concrete is clean and free of oils or any chemical residue. Petroleum and chemicals can cause rubber and foam to break down and deteriorate over time. There are special methods for preparing concrete before installing epoxy flooring — here are some flooring prep tips, plus a how-to video showing the entire process:
- Beware of moisture: Whatever type of garage gym flooring you choose, it’s smart to seal the concrete first with a siliconate penetrating sealer that will help create a barrier and protect from water intrusion. This will help avoid moisture from the concrete getting trapped, which can cause mold and mildew issues.
- Consider storage to clear the way: If you need to make space in your garage before installing your gym flooring, you can use a portable storage container — especially if you’re using epoxy, which will take a few days to install and dry. For example, Stacie Walker says she had delayed getting epoxy flooring because she couldn’t picture where they would keep everything during installation. “I was not thrilled about doing the garage floors because I was anticipating the stress that comes with it. Where do you put all this stuff? I thought it was going to be a logistical nightmare,” she recalls.
But then Stacie got an opportunity to use a PODS container to keep their gym, DIY equipment, and bikes right in their driveway. “Having the PODS container made it very, very convenient for us to still access our stuff. I was still able to do projects, the boys could ride their bikes, and I could use my gardening stuff, even though we were working on the garage floor,” says Stacie. “This was perfect for my husband to have his dream garage floors.”
Just getting started with your home workout plans? Get pumped with these home gym ideas. Or maybe you need to create more space in your garage to make room for your workout gear. These space-saving garage storage solutions can work magic.
Liz Taylor is a freelance writer who keeps up with moving and storage trends while editing the PODS Containing the Chaos blog.