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Interlocking Gym Mats and Portable Horse Stall Mats

By Kyle Schurman Created: June, 2017 - Modified: July, 2021

Using horse stall mats for home gym layouts can provide significant benefits for homeowners looking for durability and cushioning in the floor.

However, for those who have concerns about the odor that rubber mats create, using horse stall mats for home gym may not be an ideal situation. If the mats are going into a small room with limited ventilation, such as a spare bedroom, the odor could linger for a while.

In many cases, the thickness of rubber used for stall mats is more than needed for the home gym, unless heavy weights are lifted and dropped.

For those concerned about odor in a home gym, the Gym Floor Workout Fitness Tile Pebble may be a better option. This EVA foam is denser than some other types of foam, providing plenty of durability in most cases.

Because it doesn’t have the odor of rubber, many homeowners will appreciate using it instead of horse stall mats for home gym. Here are some ways to try to decide between these two types of mats for use in a home gymnasium.

Are All Horse Stall Mats for Home Gyms Heavy?

Rubber is a naturally heavy material, which causes some potential installation issues. The weight of a rubber mat depends on the thickness of the mat and of the dimensions of the mat.

A 3/4-inch rubber mat is a common thickness in mats used in horse stalls. This thickness of mat usually will weigh between 4 and 5 pounds per square foot of coverage. A 1-inch thick mat usually will weigh 5 to 6 pounds per square foot.

For 3/4-inch horse stall mats for home gym that have dimensions of 4 by 6 feet, or 24 square feet of coverage, expect the mat to weigh about 100 pounds.

One of the biggest advantages of using thick mats is the level of protection for the subfloor they provide. For those who will be using large exercise machines or free weights and barbells in the workout room, rubber handles these items without showing wear and tear, and it’s especially useful for protecting the floor from free weights that are dropped or slammed against the floor.

However, if the mat’s weight is too much for the installer to handle for creating a workout floor at home, there are a few ways to save weight in the rubber flooring, including:
  • Using thinner mats
  • Using mats with perforations
  • Using mats or tiles with smaller dimensions

Those who choose to install dense EVA foam in a home gym will save a significant amount of weight versus rubber flooring as well. A 2-by-2-foot EVA foam mat only weighs 2.2 pounds, which includs about 0.5 pounds per square foot of coverage.

How Bad Do These Gym Stall Mats Smell?

When installing new horse stall mats for home gym made from rubber, odor is a concern for many homeowners. Some people have more susceptibility to this odor than others.

Some people describe the odor of rubber mats as being similar to the smell of a new car. Some people don’t mind this odor, while others find it displeasing. It really depends on each person’s sensitivity to it.

New rubber mats made from virgin rubber tend to have less odor than mats made from recycled rubber. The virgin rubber mats will have a higher cost per square foot of coverage, though. There are different binding agents or mitigating agents that can be used during the manufacturing process of recycled rubber mats that affect the smell - or strength of the odor.

For those homeowners who go with EVA foam for the workout room floor, odor is not an issue. EVA foam is waterproof (as is vulcanized rubber), so it won’t soak up sweat or other spills that could add odor to the workout room.

For those who prefer rubber, some options exist for reducing the odor of rubber flooring, including:
  • Make sure the room has plenty of ventilation.
  • Only install it in larger rooms to provide extra airflow.
  • Clean the surface of the mat with a neutral pH cleaner.
  • After the surface dries, clean the underside of the mat with the same type of cleaner.
  • Let the mat sit in the sun for several hours or a few days before installation.

The odor will fade slowly over time after installation either way. These methods will just help speed up the process.

Should I Put Plywood Under Interlocking Gym Mats?

Homeowners will have certain situations where installing plywood underneath the rubber will be a smart idea.

When going over the top of a carpeted floor in a spare bedroom or basement, using rubber mats directly over the carpet may result in a slight shifting or buckling of the rubber. This problem becomes more noticeable with heavy machines and free weights.

To fix this problem, lay plywood sheets over the carpet. Then place the rubber mats over the top of the plywood, giving the rubber mats a sturdy base surface. Using plywood of 1/2 or 3/4 inches of thickness will work best for heavy free weights.

Because some types of rubber can leave black marks on hardwood flooring, some people choose to lay thin plywood sheets over the hardwood before laying out the rubber mats. Using a canvas drop cloth between the plywood and hardwood protects the hardwood from scratches.

Because of the weight of some gym stall mats, it’s important to stick with a trusted retailer. Greatmats knows how to ship these mats at the best price and as fast as possible. Contact our customer service team for more information.
For more on this topic please review our Horse Stall Mats, Equine Rubber product page.