The Main Differences Between Hard & Soft Gym Flooring

You’re ready to build your home or commercial gym, but where do you start? When you work out, you probably don’t consider the flooring. It’s important to get your gym flooring right the first time. This will save you an expensive mistake or worse, potential injury from installing the wrong type of material for your fitness facility. 

After a quick Google search, you’ll find that some of the most common options for gym flooring are foam and rubber. So, which is right for you? Keep reading to find out the main differences between hard and soft gym flooring to help you make the right decision for your gym set-up.

In this article:

  • Hard vs Soft Gym Flooring 
  • When to Use Soft Gym Flooring 
  • The Benefits of Using Hard Gym Flooring 
  • How to Choose the Best Gym Flooring for You 

Hard vs Soft Gym Flooring 


 

When you’re looking at hard and soft gym flooring, it’s mainly a choice between rubber and foam. Although you do have additional hard flooring options such as wood, vinyl, cork, and carpet, rubber and foam tend to be popular options. Both materials have pros and cons and are entirely dependent on the space you have and the type of exercise you plan on doing. 


For example, if you’re doing a lot of light floor work and yoga, foam flooring may be more comfortable. But if you plan on using heavy weights, foam flooring can’t handle it. Although foam is fairly shock absorbent and comfortable for yoga and Pilates, it’s not as long-lasting as other materials. So even though it’s usually cheaper to buy, you will end up replacing it more often than if you choose a more premium, durable material.


You can see how your goals and types of exercise guide your decision with flooring. If you’re looking to perform a wide variety of exercises, this is something you should take into consideration. Some gym flooring materials are much more versatile than others. If you plan on combining floor work with HIIT and heavy weights, you will need something that won’t wear easily and will support these types of activities safely. 

When to Use Soft Gym Flooring 


Foam flooring typically comes in large interlocking tiles. If you’re looking for a soft flooring, then foam is ideal. Activities like yoga, lounging, and low-impact exercises are suited to foam flooring. In terms of weight, foam tiles are much lighter than rubber, which is why foam is often a good choice for beginners and home gyms. It tends to be a very affordable option; however, it doesn’t usually last as long. 


If you plan on doing light activities and it’s your first step in exercise and a home gym, then a foam flooring is suitable. It’s a good start to a basic home gym set-up. The light foam tiles also allow you to create exercise zones. This is particularly useful for people who don’t have a dedicated room for exercise at home but still want comfortable flooring support.  

On the other hand, there are times that foam isn’t suitable for the gym. Disadvantages of foam flooring include: 

  • Equipment can leave lasting dents in the flooring if left for any length of time 
  • It’s easier to tear foam with equipment 
  • Not as durable as rubber flooring 
  • Not suitable for workout equipment 

Although foam flooring may be suitable for some workout spaces, you need to make sure you make the right decisions. As you can see, if you decide to add heavier equipment to your workout space, foam can dent and tear far too easily to be a sustainable solution. 

The Benefits of Using Hard Gym Flooring 


 

When talking about hard gym flooring, you have materials like wood and rubber. The most popular option for commercial and home gyms tends to be premium rubber gym flooring. A major reason for this is that rubber is a very versatile material. It has a range of applications and is versatile enough to support various activities from weight lifting and HIIT to yoga and CrossFit. 


As a material, rubber is strong, durable, and resilient. These characteristics make it ideal for exercise. The gym environment naturally includes a lot of movement, sweat, and foot traffic. Rubber flooring is denser than foam, so it’s better for absorbing and reducing sound. Generally, if your workout includes weights, machinery, and plyometric movements, rubber is the superior flooring option. 

Although rubber offers great traction and a non-slip surface, it does have some downfalls. As rubber is so durable, it’s also heavy. This isn’t a problem, as long as you take it into account before buying. You may need an extra pair of hands to install rubber gym flooring. Overall, rubber flooring is more expensive per square meter in comparison to foam flooring. Although you need a bigger initial investment for rubber flooring, it will last longer than foam and be easy to maintain for years to come.  

How to Choose the Best Gym Flooring for You 


 

Whether you’re designing your dream home training space or looking to open a state-of-the-art facility, you need to lay the groundwork for safe exercise. This means choosing the best gym flooring for you, your space, and your needs. For example, you may have a garage space with a concrete floor that is suitable to withstand heavy machinery. But that’s not going to cut it. You need to create a space with plenty of traction, shock absorption, and noise reduction to workout safely and effectively. Dropping a barbell onto a concrete floor is sure to make a lot of noise that may annoy neighbours and family members. 


The right gym floor increases durability, stability, and boosts energy return, allowing you to perform more powerful movements. Gym flooring not only protects you but helps keep your subfloor scuff and mark-free. This is especially important if you’re renting a commercial location and need to leave the subfloor the same way you found it. 

When researching the right flooring for you, here are five questions to ask yourself to help you make the best choice:

  • What type of equipment will you be using?
  • Will you be installing heavy workout machines and how many?  
  • What exercises will you perform?
  • How much foot traffic do you think your gym will experience?
  • How much space do you have available for your gym?


By answering all these questions, you can find the right flooring material based solely on your requirements. It’s important to remember that your solution may not be the best for someone else. When you break down your needs, foot traffic, equipment, and goals, you can find a flooring solution suitable for your fitness space. 

As with any project, every detail counts when creating a workout space. While a commercial and home gym have different uses, they both need to be safe and support movement. By understanding the main differences between hard and soft gym flooring, you find out what works for you. Often, rubber is a great option for the gym due to its sheer versatility. That’s not to say foam and wood flooring isn’t ideal for a home yoga studio. After all, your needs and use are at the core of the best flooring solution.  

November 01, 2020 — Richard McKay