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Rubber Floor Tile: A Complete Guide

If you’re considering new rubber flooring, you must decide between rubber floor tile and rubber roll.

Both rubber tiles and rolls are popular for homes and businesses. They share many qualities, but they also have key differences. Each type is better for specific uses. Knowing these differences helps you choose the best option for your needs.

To choose wisely between rubber tiles and rolls, understand their pros and cons. Let’s look at what makes each type of rubber flooring suitable or not so good.

Related: Carpet Essentials: Intro, Repair or Replace?

Table of Contents

Pros and Cons of Rubber Floor Tiles

Rubber floor tiles are a durable and versatile option for various environments, balancing aesthetics, functionality, and easy installation. Ideal for workout spaces, these tiles offer some pros and cons to consider:

Sophisticated Rubber Floor Tiles

Pros

  1. Durability and Resilience: Rubber’s inherent strength makes it suitable for high-impact activities heavy traffic and long-term use.
  1. Comfort and Safety: The material’s softness and shock-absorbing qualities offer comfort and reduce injury risk, especially in workout environments.
  1. Aesthetic Flexibility: Available in multiple textures and colors, rubber tiles allow for creative design choices. Popular options include black tiles with colorful flecks, adding visual interest.
  1. Easy Installation: The tiles’ interlocking design is good for quick assembly, fitting any space. Their light weight saves the need for adhesives, simplifying the process.
  1. Customizable Shapes and Sizes: Typically square, these tiles can be cut into various shapes and sizes, ensuring a precise fit. The tight seams create a seamless appearance to avoid tripping hazards.
  1. Variety in Thickness and Density: Catering to different needs, these tiles come in various thicknesses and densities. Fitness centers often opt for thicker tiles (around 8 mm) for better subfloor protection from heavy equipment.
  1. Maintenance and Replacement: Rubber tiles are easy to clean and maintain. In case of damage, only the affected piece needs replacement, not the entire flooring.
  1. Portability and Reusability: These tiles can be easily removed, stored, and reused, making them a practical choice for temporary or changing spaces.
rubber-flooring

Cons

  • Installation Time for Larger Areas: While installation is straightforward, covering extensive areas can be labor-intensive and time-consuming.
  • Seam and Water Resistance Issues: Despite tight seams, there’s a risk of water seepage, potentially affecting the subfloor. This issue also makes the floor only partially seamless.
  • Surface Slipperiness: Untextured rubber tiles can become slippery when wet, posing a safety concern.
  • Initial Bad Smell: A distinct rubbery smell may persist for several months post-installation, which could be bothersome in enclosed spaces.

While rubber floor tiles offer various benefits like durability, easy installation, and aesthetic appeal, they also present some challenges, such as time-consuming installation in large spaces, potential water seepage, slipperiness, and initial bad smell.

When considering rubber tiles for your flooring project, these factors should be carefully weighed against your specific needs and preferences.

Pros and Cons of Rubber Flooring Rolls

Rubber flooring rolls are popular in commercial gyms for their extreme durability and economic value, especially in high-traffic areas and large spaces. When installed correctly, their seamless appearance adds to the aesthetics of sports facilities.

These rolls are typically black with color flecks. Still, various designer options are available for a more unique and trendy look.

rubber-flooring-rolls

Pros

  • Extreme Durability: Rubber rolls are ideal for high-impact activities and are built to last in busy environments.
  • Economical for Large Spaces: They cover large areas efficiently, making them cost-effective.
  • Seamless Appearance: Proper installation creates an almost invisible seam, enhancing the floor’s elegance.
  • Water Resistance: Offers better protection against moisture compared to tiles.
  • Variety in Design: Available in multiple styles for customization.
  • Different Thicknesses: Suitable for various activities – thinner rolls for bodyweight exercises, medium for universal gyms, and thicker for high-impact activities like CrossFit.
  • Safe Installation: Glued or taped down, they provide a stable and permanent flooring solution.
  • Affordability: Cost-effective, especially considering their longevity and minimal need for replacement.
  • Easy Maintenance: Easy to clean and maintain, ideal for high-intensity gym environments.

Application of Rubber Floor Tiles

Rubber Flooring

The main purpose of rubber flooring is protection. It acts as a shield for underlying floor surfaces, preserving and safeguarding them. As a protective layer, rubber flooring prevents expensive damage. Certain types of rubber flooring are even robust enough to bear heavy loads like vehicles and storage equipment.

Now, let’s explore some typical applications of interlocking rubber flooring.

For Your Garage

Rubber floor tiles are a practical addition to any garage, especially if you’re into auto detailing or repairs. They provide a soft and supportive surface, much more comfortable than concrete, for sitting or standing for extended periods. These tiles also protect your garage floor from oils, greases, and other car fluids.

However, if your tiles are made from recycled rubber, be cautious with oil spills as they can damage them.

For Interior Uses

Rubber flooring isn’t just for garages or industrial spaces but also for home use. Covering the floor with interlocking rubber mats can provide extra comfort and protection if you’re setting up a personal gym in your basement or garage. They protect your floors from heavy exercise equipment and reduce joint stress during high-impact activities. Their flexibility and shock absorption make them ideal for home and commercial gyms.

For Industrial Areas

Rubber interlocking floor mats are highly beneficial in factories, warehouses, and manufacturing centers where hazardous chemicals and slippery liquids are present. The anti-slip feature of rubber enhances safety and comfort in these work environments. Mats made from recycled rubber tires are suitable for heavy-duty use, protecting floors and machinery from damage.

interlocking rubber floor tiles 03

How to Choose Between Rubber Flooring Rolls and Tiles

For Small Spaces, Choose Tiles

Rubber tiles are ideal for smaller areas. Their ease of installation and versatility make them perfect for home gyms, small fitness studios, weight rooms, and locker rooms. They are also a good choice when you need portable gym flooring.

For Larger, High-Traffic Areas, Choose Rolls

Rubber rolls are the better choice for larger spaces, mainly commercial gyms and areas with much foot traffic. Their durability and resilience make them well-suited for these environments, providing a more permanent flooring solution.

Alternative Option: Turf Rolls

If you need more clarification about rubber, consider turf rolls. They are versatile, durable, safe, and high-performing, making them excellent for weightlifting and high-intensity workouts. Turf rolls might be an alternative worth exploring for your project.

Making the right choice depends on the specific requirements of your space, whether it’s the size, the type of activities it will host, or the need for portability or permanence in flooring.

Tile Installation Guide

Step 1: Prepare the Substrate

Here are some important steps to follow:

  1. Choose suitable substrates like dried concrete and wood.
  1. The substrate needs to be smooth to avoid any defects showing through the flooring.
  1. Clean the substrate well to remove dust, dirt, grease, and other foreign materials.
  1. Before installation, ensure the substrate is free from moisture, as it can adversely affect adhesive products.
interlocking rubber floor tiles

Step 2: Inspect Flooring

Before installation, check the flooring for manufacturing defects, correct color, and size. Refer to the warranty statement for more details.

Tips:

The success of the installation depends on several factors. Your flooring contractor will guide you in choosing the correct method. Rubber floor tiles can be installed using loose-lay, tape-down, or complete glue-down methods.

Dry lay the entire floor before applying adhesive to avoid issues with different adhesives’ open times. Avoid using Duct Tape on seams due to residue difficulties.

Step 3: Square Cut Tiles:

  1. Start in the room’s center. Snap a chalk line lengthwise down the middle.
  1. Begin laying tiles along the chalk line towards the opposite wall.
  1. Wait to cut the last tile near the wall until all tiles are laid.
  1. Continue laying tiles in rows, leaving the areas along the walls open. Some installers use a staggered “brick-like” pattern to minimize stress between tiles.
  1. Finish wall areas by cutting tiles to fit the gaps. Leave a gap in the thickness of the material at the wall.
  1. Cut tiles slightly larger (~5/32″) than needed and then undercut for a professional finish.

For Interlocking Tiles

  1. Snap a chalk line on the sub-floor 24″ from one wall and another line 24″ from an adjacent wall, forming a 90-degree angle.
  1. Start laying interlocking tiles along one chalk line, snapping them together. Usually, these tiles are not glued down.
  1. Leave the room’s perimeter open until the field is installed.
  1. Continue locking tiles in successive rows until the field area is covered.
  1. Go back and cut in the tiles along the walls, leaving a gap in the thickness of the material.

This method maximizes tile usage and the strength of the interlocking mechanism while minimizing cuts.

Roll Installation Procedure

Step 1: Prepare the Substrate

Preparing the substrate is crucial for a successful installation, just like the tiles.

Step 2: Inspect the Flooring Before Installation

  1. Check for manufacturing defects, color, and size. Once installed, the flooring is considered accepted.
  1. Assume the room’s walls could be more perfectly square and straight.

Step 3: Select Your Installation Method and Prepare the Substrate

  1. Opt for a full glued-down installation for durability or double-face tape for lower-traffic areas.
  1. Ensure the substrate is suitable for taped and glued installations.

Step 4: Acclimate and Lay Out the Flooring

  1. Unroll and allow the flooring to acclimate for 24 hours or more.
  1. Plan the layout to minimize cuts and waste, keeping the rolling direction consistent from the starting point.

Step 5: Apply Adhesive and Install the Flooring

  1. Overlap the rolls slightly at the seams and cut to the required length, allowing for wall overlaps.
  1. Start with the most accurate wall to square the first roll and butt subsequent rolls at factory edges.
  1. Fold back and apply adhesive to half of the roll, then gently lay the flooring back into the adhesive.

Step 6: Complete the Installation Process

  1. Continue with each roll, ensuring tight seams and minimal adhesive oozing.
  1. Roll all seams after the entire floor has been rolled. Avoid using Duct Tape on seams.
  1. Allow the adhesive to cure per the manufacturer’s recommendations before allowing heavy traffic.
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