A Definitive Guide To Stable Mat
When it comes to installing sturdy, durable flooring material in your stalls and stables, there are an array of popular options to choose from. While natural earthen flooring or cement style floors can save you money upfront, in the long-run rubber stable mats offer the best value in terms of stability, comfort, insulation, and safety.
There are a variety of rubber stable mats to choose from and stable owners will find that different rubber stable mat varieties may be ideal for serving different purposes around the stables, and surrounding structures.
In this guide, we will take an in-depth look at the various advantages of installing and using rubber stable mats throughout your stable and facility.
Table of Contents
- Stable Flooring Needs
- Stable Flooring Options
- Stable Flooring Pros & Cons
- The Advantages Of Rubber Stable Mats
- Cleaning Of Rubber Stable Mats
Stable Flooring Needs
As humans, we will spend a large portion of our days and nights sitting or lying down on a supportive, comfortable furniture item. In contrast, the horses, cattle, and other animals in our stables often stand for the majority of their time. With so much time spent on their feet, it is critical to the animal’s health, safety, and well-being that they have a secure, sanitary, and cushioned surface to help support their weight.
Ideally, stable flooring should be easy to keep clean and dry to help prevent illness and injury. Flooring should also provide an optimum level of both cushioning and support to protect animals’ feet, joints, and other major anatomical systems. Stable flooring also needs to provide a degree of insulation to help keep animals comfortable no matter the outside temperature.
While there are several stable flooring options to choose from, many are able to meet only one, or two of the stable flooring needs. Let’s take a look at the most common stable flooring options, and explore the best choice for meeting all of your stable flooring needs.
Stable Flooring Options
When it comes to selecting a type of flooring for your stable there are many options to choose from. There are low-budget, ultra-basic choices like bare earth, straw, or cement slab options, as well as more advanced choices like wood flooring, or rubber stable mats.
In this section, we will take a closer look at each of the most common stable flooring options and the potential advantages and disadvantages of each.
Bare Earth Floor
Obviously, the simplest, and cheapest stable flooring option is no flooring at all. While this option may be easy on the budget, it offers little in the way of sanitation, support, insulation, or comfort to the animal. Natural bare earth floors are difficult to keep properly sanitised and may promote the spread of disease between individual animals. Earthen floors are also more apt to be plagued by insect and parasite infestation.
Bare earth provides little comfort, and will not help to shield the animal from extreme temperatures. Bare earth flooring clearly offers substantial upfront savings over the cost of installing stable flooring, however, the cost associated with treating illness and disease may quickly erase any savings.
Once quite common, wood flooring is used less frequently in modern stables due to the initial expense and the fairly labour-intensive maintenance associated with keeping a wood floor sanitary and stable.
Wood flooring is generally installed by placing hardwood timber planks securely over sand, earth, or gravel base. The space between the boards allows for fluids to drain away into the base material rather than accumulating on the floor surface. Wood flooring offers a more comfortable surface than concrete, or other slick surfaces, and offers more insulation from the outdoor temperatures than bare earthen floors provide.
That being said, wood flooring has fallen out of favour in many stables because high-quality wood timber can be quite costly, and regular careful cleaning and maintenance are required to prevent the wood from splitting and cracking and remove any accumulated feed and waste that has become trapped between boards.
Furthermore, wood does not react well to water and moisture. If too much moisture seeps into the surface, it can warp and expand the wood causing damage and issues with the level of the floor posing a potential tripping hazard.
Cement Slab Flooring
Cement slab flooring is used frequently in large stables due to its affordability and easy care surface. Cement slab flooring is easy to maintain, and waste can be easily hosed away. However, the surface can become quite slick when wet, and may not provide adequate traction leading to injury, and a lack of confidence for animals traversing the floor.
Cement slab flooring generally provides adequate insulation from outside temperatures but the surface can be hard and unforgiving on animals’ hooves, tendons, ligaments, and cardiovascular systems.
Rubber Stable Mats
Rubber stable mats are widely considered to be the gold standard in stable flooring. Rubber mats offer the perfect blend of cushioning, support, and traction to help ensure that animals have a comfortable sleeping and standing surface and that they are able to feel confident moving around the stable, and rising from rest.
The wide variety of rubber stable mat types and styles available on the market makes it easy to find the most affordable, and effective stable flooring solution for your unique needs.
Straw bedding can be layered atop any of the more permanent flooring solutions to help provide improved drainage, insulation, and comfort. This type of surface in itself is not so great. Straw needs to be consistently replenished to remain sanitary and can therefore be costly in the longterm.
Stable Flooring Pros & Cons
Stable flooring serves multiple important functions. It must provide support, and comfort for the animal, and it must ensure adequate drainage to ensure that the surface remains dry, sanitary, and safe. Some stable flooring types are better suited for these tasks than others.
Bare earth flooring can provide some degree of stability and comfort, depending on the earthen surface, but is often unable to offer even, and reliable drainage. This can lead to wet areas of the stable that offer an ideal breeding ground for odours, disease-causing bacteria, and other organisms.
Concrete floors often require manual drainage and cleaning to ensure that they remain dry and sanitary. Drainage channels and underfloor drains can be built into concrete stable flooring, however, this option can be prohibitively expensive. Concrete flooring is the least ideal when it comes to comfort and safety as concrete flooring is very hard and unforgiving on the animals’ feet and joints and the smooth surface becomes slippery when wet.
Wood flooring offers both comfort and support, and when installed properly can provide some degree of drainage. Wood flooring falters when it comes to the degree of maintenance required to ensure optimal function and durability of the floor. Gaps between boards must be kept free of debris to ensure proper drainage, and floors must be finished to prevent warping and rotting.
Rubber stable matting is the superior stable flooring option on all counts. Rubber stable mats offer stability, safety, support, and comfort to ensure the health and happiness of your animals. At the same time, rubber stable mats make the lives of human caretakers easier by providing an easy-to-clean, easy-to-move, and easy-to-maintain stable flooring surface.
The Advantages Of Rubber Stable Mats
Today’s modern rubber stable mats come in a variety of types and styles designed to fit the unique needs of different stables. There are grooved rubber stable mats designed for ease of cleaning. These grooved mats allow liquids to drain away from the surface ensuring a safe and sanitary surface at all times. Smaller, lightweight rubber stable mats are designed to be portable and to allow one person to easily remove mats for easy cleaning and replace them in any configuration needed. It is even possible to find rubber stable mats crafted from rubber that has been texturized to provide maximum traction for your animals.
Types Of Rubber Stable Mats
Gone are the days of lugging massive, heavy rubber mats out for cleaning and struggling to reinstall them properly after cleaning. Today’s rubber stable matting comes in a wide variety of types designed to be easy to maintain, easy to install, easy to remove, and easy to clean.
Rubber Stable Mats: Thickness
Rubber stable mats are available in a broad range of thicknesses to suit your stable’s unique needs. As a general rule of thumb, the larger and heavier the animals in your stable the thicker your stable mats should be. There is of course a caveat to this, as thicker stable mats are going to be heavier and more cumbersome to remove or manoeuvre for cleaning.
The wide range of rubber stable mat thicknesses allows you to strike the perfect balance between comfort and support, and manageability.
20mm+ rubber stable mats generally provide solid support and adequate comfort for horses and ponies up to 15 hands in height. 30mm+ rubber stable mats are the best option for larger horses up to 16 hands in height. Horses larger than 16 hands in height will be most comfortable and best supported by 43mm+ rubber stable matting.
Rubber Stable Mats: Texture
Rubber stable mats are available in several textured options. Most stable owners prefer the pebbled, or amoebic surface which offers sure-footed traction for your animals, and allows them to traverse the floor with confidence. Smooth rubber stable mats are simpler to clean and remain non-slip due to the natural traction the rubber provides. Moreover, this type of rubber tile usually comes with built in drainage on the underside of the tile to allow moisture to escape easily. Open mesh rubber mats are also popular for washing areas and offer excellent stability for your horse although this type may not be as durable as more solid alternatives.
Rubber Stable Mats: Format
Rubber stable mats can be found in large sheets for covering a large open-floor plan stable, or smaller more manoeuvrable tiles that can be custom fit for individual stalls. Individual rubber stable mats can be purchased with a standard solid edge or an interlocking edge style that allows multiple mats to be linked together securely. Smaller puzzle-style interlocking foam stable mats are available for adding portable support and comfort precisely where and when it is needed.
Cleaning of Rubber Stable Mats
Rubber stable mats are one of the easiest stable flooring types to keep clean. The maintenance required to clean and care for most varieties of rubber stable mats is minimal. That being said, caring for your rubber stable mats properly can help extend their durability and provide years of solid value.
Here are some useful tips to help you extend the life of your rubber stable mats:
- When installing or placing rubber stable mats it is best to ensure the mats are being placed on a surface that is as level as possible. A flat, level surface will not only provide a more stable and supportive stable flooring surface for the animal, it will also reduce stretching and excessive wear and tear on the rubber stable mats themselves.
- Consider prepping the surface beneath your rubber stable mats with a disinfecting powder or solution to control pathogen growth, and keep your animals as healthy as possible. This extra step can also allow you to leave rubber stable mats in place for longer periods between deep cleanings reducing the strain on human workers, and wear and tear on the mats.
- Consider installing a damp-proof membrane beneath your rubber stable mats to help protect both the mat and the underlying surface from excessive moisture accumulation. Concrete floors can be especially prone to deterioration, crumbling, and cracking when exposed to moisture for long periods. Damage to the underlying concrete floor may cause excessive wear and damage to the rubber stable mats.
- Inspect stables daily to ensure that stable bedding has not been pushed underneath rubber stable matting. Material that becomes embedded beneath rubber stable matting can create a breeding ground for bacteria and mould. Embedded material also creates an uneven surface that can cause the rubber stable mat to wear more quickly in certain areas.
- Take the time to fit your rubber stable mats to each individual stable perimeter to help minimise lifting, and sliding. This can also help to reduce the likelihood that materials will accumulate beneath mats.
- Rubber stable mats can be swept clean with a stiff-bristled broom. Regular sweeping will help to keep the rubber stable mat's surface clean and sanitary. This will also aid in reducing the likelihood of excess material being pushed beneath the surface of the mats.
- Depending on the configuration of the stable, rubber stable mats can be hosed down in place to remove any excess debris, manure, and other waste that has accumulated on the surface of the mat. Proper drainage will be required to ensure that fluids can be easily drained away and are not left to pool below the matting.
- Rubber stable mats should be removed regularly to allow for deep cleaning and disinfecting with the proper cleansers and disinfection agents. Installing smaller custom-fit stable mats in each stall or using interlocking rubber stable mat tiles can help make the removal and replacement process easier to manage.
- Inspect all surfaces of the rubber stable mats frequently to check for any signs of uneven wear, punctures, or tears. Rubber stable mats are incredibly durable and are designed to resist punctures and tearing. However, depending on the amount and type of use, damage can occur. Sharp items and excessive pawing or kicking can lead to rips, tears, and punctures on the surface of the mat. Mats that are used in high-traffic areas, such as exercise arenas, are likely to develop areas of excessive wear from frequent repetitive use. Small rips, punctures, and tears can be patched or repaired if caught quickly.
- Consider installing rubber stable mats equipped with built-in drainage channels. These channels help to divert excess fluids away from the surface of the mat and prevent fluids from accumulating on top of or beneath the mat. This helps to ensure the most comfortable, safe, and sanitary environment for your animals and reduces the amount of time and effort spent cleaning stable flooring.
With regular care and cleaning, you can expect most varieties of rubber stable matting to last up to 10 years before replacement is needed. Of course, the lifespan of your rubber stable mats will depend on the amount and type of use that each mat receives.
Rubber Stable Mats: Costs
Rubber stable mats range in cost depending largely on the type, style, and thickness of the chosen mat. Interlocking or individual rubber stable mat tiles can be found at prices ranging from just under £12 to as much as £84 or more per mat depending on the size, and thickness selected.
Sets of interlocking puzzle-piece-style stable mats can be found to cover areas from 12 feet x 12 feet up to 12 feet x 24 feet or more. These tiles are often a thinner 18mm thickness than heavy-duty rubber stable mats and are best for smaller animals and areas that receive less frequent use. These sets can be found at prices ranging from £290 to £495 or more depending on the area of the space to be covered and the number of tiles in each set.
EVA Foam stable mats are generally less costly than high-quality rubber stable mats, however, these mats do not stand up to regular heavy use as well as rubber matting does, and the initial savings are often offset by the need to purchase new replacement matting more frequently.
Local UK rubber flooring retailer, Sprung, offers high-quality 30mm thick rubber stable mats for as low as £11.51 per 500mm x 500mm mat when purchased in lots of 51 mats or more. Individual 30mm thick mats can be purchased for as low as £14.95 each. These high-quality and affordable mats provide an anti-slip, UV-resistant surface that is guaranteed to withstand regular use for at least 4 years. These rubber stable mats are available in a range of stylish colours for the same low price.
Rubber stable mats offer the best stability and durability when it comes to stable surfacing. Not only do rubber stable mats last longer and offer a slip resistant surface for your horse but they are very low maintenance and easy to clean when compared to alternative stable floor options. There are various types of rubber stable mat and it comes down to personal preference, the type and amount of animals you are accommodating as well as budget when deciding the best product to go for.