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Community and Q&A

Rubber vs. Foam for Basement Floor

thegiz | Posted in General Questions on

Hi hope everyone is enjoying their holidays. I have a small room in the basement that I would like to use for gym equipment. I haven’t put down anything for the floor in this room yet. There are 2 local gyms in the area at a basement level and they are covered completely in gym rubber flooring. I see they have EVA foam interlocking squares and I also see the same in rubber online. I understand EVA is closed cell but what is rubber considered? Does rubber preform the same as Eva foam? Is rubber closed cell can it trap vapor underneath the same as Eva foam would? Cork is also good for shock absorption but I’m assuming that would perform the worst with moisture out of the 3. By the way I’m not speaking of liquid water, I’m talking about condensation and vapor coming up from within the concrete.

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  1. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #1

    If you're thinking of the solid rubber tiles, those are going to be good vapor barriers. They won't offer a lot of thermal insulation either -- the ones I've used in the past are only about 1/8" thick or so.

    What you get with solid rubber flooring is a vapor tolerant floor, so it will get damp, but it won't care (if you use suitable adhesives). An INSULATED floor will reduce the amount of moisture condensing on the floor, so you get a drier floor which may or may not also be tolerant to moisture. Similar, but different, applications. You could combine the two to get the best of both though.


  2. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #2

    You want a vapor barrier in your floor.

    I'd say there's little difference between rubber and EVA in terms of vapor barrier and insulation. I suspect gyms use rubber because it's more durable.

  3. thegiz | | #3

    Ok so they are both vapor barriers? If they are interconnecting and not glued down do I have to worry about condensation under the floor? Wouldn’t a thicker rubber or Eva foam offer more insulation or is the r value so low it doesn’t matter. So Bill how you would combine both for insulation, are we talking about eps foam with plywood on top and then rubber or eva on top of that. Can you throw area rugs on top of rubber? Can rubber lay on top of foam board since it is heavy?

  4. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #4

    You could put rubber over foam directly, but you'd probably have issues with point loads that way since the rubber won't distribute the load. You'd want to have a subfloor between the materials, something like plywood or OSB.

    Rigid foam can be surprisingly strong in compression like this, as long as the loads are distributed over large enough areas. Take the typical "10 PSI" XPS for example -- it can support 1,440 pounds per square foot of an EVENLY DISTRIBUTED load. Typical residential design floor loads are around 50 pounds per square foot, so the foam board itself certainly isn't your weak spot here.

    I don't see any reason you couldn't put a rug over a rubber floor. I'd just want to make sure the floor wasn't getting damp, since moisture would be a problem for a rug.


  5. JC72 | | #5

    The rubber tiles used in gyms are to prevent people from slipping, protecting the floor and the weights when they're dropped. Nothing more nothing less.

  6. Vapewell | | #6

    I would go for gym rubber flooring. It is better and more convenient. Moreover, it last longer. The rubber floor absorbs the sounds when you drop weights and protects the floor from damage. If you intend to use any heavy gym machines, the rubber floor will keep it from slipping and the floor from deteriorating under its weight. Like everyone else, during the lockdowns, I struggled since the gyms were closed, and I decided it the time to make one myself at home. I also used rubber flooring for it and bought most of my equipment from Not sure if I’ll need to go to the gym anymore.

  7. paulmagnuscalabro | | #7

    If you haven't chosen a gym flooring material yet, I'd recommend looking at horse stall mats. They're pretty easy to find at places like Murdoch's, Tractor Supply, etc. They're usually available in 1/2" (maybe 5/8", I forget) and 3/4" thicknesses. I believe the standard size is 3' x 5'. Super durable, and far less expensive than most other options.

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