"What is the best rolled rubber flooring thickness?" is one of the most common questions people have when purchasing rolled rubber flooring. The thickness of the rolled rubber you select will dictate the price and amount of impact protection it will provide for your floors and your equipment. Selecting a thin rolled rubber option will save you money in the beginning but could end up costing you in damaged floors or broken dumbbells later on. Going with rolled rubber that is too thick may be more than is needed for a flooring solution that does not match the type of equipment you are using. When buying rolled rubber for residential or commercial use, a little education can go a long way in making sure you're making a solid investment that you won't soon regret!

What is the best rolled rubber thickness for residential use? Are you purchasing rolled rubber for a home gym, such as for a spare bedroom, or a garage gym? If so, then there are a few things to consider:

  1. What type of sub-floor will you be covering? Is it wood, concrete or tile? Wood and tile floors are more prone to damage than concrete and will require additional impact protection from heavy dumbbells or barbells.
  2. What type of equipment will you be using? If you're going to have a light set of dumbbells and a basic utility bench you'll require less protection than someone installing a squat rack and using a 300lb+ barbell set. Heavy lifters will want to max out the thickness of their rubber rolls for maximum protection.
  3. What is your spending budget for rolled rubber? Price is usually at the top of this list when it comes to buying a lot of things. However, purchasing a certain type of flooring because it was "the cheapest you could find" is one of the main reasons for buyer's remorse. There's no "value" in purchasing something too thin, of poor quality or stinks to high heaven. Rubber flooring is a "big picture" type of purchase so make sure to consider all your needs carefully in addition to price.

What is the best rolled rubber thickness for commercial use? Just as with purchasing for residential use, there are multiple considerations when purchasing for commercial use too:

  1. What type of sub-floor will you be covering? In a commercial dues paying facility, most of the time you are covering concrete. While concrete is able to withstand more impact than a wood or tile floor, it still has to be sufficiently protected from large, heavy machines and free weights.
  2. What type of equipment are you installing on top of your flooring? In most commercial gym settings, rolled rubber is used underneath selectorized machines, plate loaded machines and cardio decks. Rolled rubber does well in these areas but many commercial gyms will supplement the heavy free weight areas with thick mats or interlocking tiles that are 1/2" to 3/4" thick for additional impact protection.
  3. What is your spending budget for rolled rubber? As with people purchasing rolled rubber for their home gyms, commercial gym and club owners are also price concious, if not more so. While gym owners are usually working with strict equipment purchasing budgets, cutting corners in the flooring department can end up being a costly mistake for this group. If the flooring should fail prematurely due to insufficient thickness, replacing it can cause several days if not weeks of facility down time, which, when combined with the cost of the new flooring, can be a hefty out of pocket expense that could have been avoided.

Now that we know the kind of sub-floor we are protecting, what type of equipment we'll be using, what type of fitness activities we will be doing on the rolled rubber and have a basic idea of what our budget is for this flooring project, what rolled rubber thicknesses do we have to choose from?

Below are the most common rolled rubber thicknesses and what they are best suited for:

1/4" Thick Rubber Rolls - 1/4" is good for aesthetics and for providing minimal impact protection from very light dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells. You can also install it under home gyms, selectorized machines and cardio pieces where there will be little to no impact. 1/4" rolled rubber is favored among doggy daycare owners for its cost effectiveness, easy installation, easy to clean non-porous surface and slip resistance.

5/16" Thick Rubber Rolls - One of the best kept secrets in rolled rubber flooring, 5/16" offers just about the same protection as 3/8" at a more affordable price. Use this thickness in cardio areas and free weight areas that will receive minimal impact from heavy free weights.

3/8" Thick Rubber Rolls - This thickness is commonly found in commercial gyms in the selectorized and plate loaded machine areas as well as cardio decks. It offers sufficient protection for weight plates that are dropped but are usually supplemented with thicker 1/2" or 3/4" mats in areas where heavy dumbbell and barbell training takes place.

1/2" Thick Rubber Rolls - 1/2" thick rubber is commonly used in heavy free weight areas to protect sub-floors from the impact of dumbbells, barbells, weight plates and even kettlebells. It can be used under squat racks, power cages, weight benches and other equipment that experiences extreme shock and impact. 1/2" thick gym flooring is more commonly purchased in the form of rubber mats or puzzle tiles, but it can be manufactured into rubber rolls. While 1/2" rolled rubber is a great solution for some, its weight (300 lbs. per 4' x 25' roll) and tendency to hold "memory" from being rolled up is enough to steer most to 3/8" with some supplemental mats in free weight areas if needed.

Need help selecting rolled rubber flooring that falls within your budget or meets your fitness goal? Check out our options here or contact an Ironcompany rolled rubber specialist at 1-888-758-7527 or email quotes@ironcompany.com

About the Author

J.P. Brice founded IRON COMPANY in 1996 and is currently President and CEO. He began weightlifting in 1984 at the age of 14 and by the age of 25 turned his passion for fitness into one of the webs first and leading fitness equipment and gm flooring suppliers. He holds numerous Patents and Trademarks on various fitness equipment products and is the lead designer of IRON COMPANY branded free weights and strength training equipment. Today he works extensively with the US Military in providing the equipment necessary for combat readiness.