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The Best Home Gym Mats: Rubber or Eva Jigsaw Mats

You had a dream to finally become self-sufficient in your workouts: You want to set up your own home gym so that you can complete your workout in the peace and quiet of your own home. This is a major step to having complete control of your health and life. But before you price out rowing machines or squat racks, consider the flooring that is going to cover your own home gym.

There are many types of things to consider when purchasing your gym’s flooring. Say, for example, your flat is on the second floor, and this means you’re going to need gym flooring which will dampen the noise when you slam the bar down after a heavy deadlift. Or if you have expensive hardwood floors, then you might purchase flooring to protect the intricate woodwork. But you also live in this space, and so you need something which doesn’t have a terrible odour.

Using these three metrics–noise dampening ability, protection, and odour–we’re going to compare two of the most common mats you’ll find in most home gyms: rubber mats and high density EVA jigsaw mats.

Rubber Mats – home gym

Rubber mats are the most durable type of mat available on the market. Rubber mats have the unique ability to redistribute the kinetic energy created by weight lifting equipment, dampening any sound, and stopping the weight in its tracks. Rubber mats are incredibly durable, so much so that you’ll find rubber mats inside of skating rinks where skaters walk with their skates on.

Because of the weight, rubber mats rarely move, which means you can place two side by side and it’s unlikely they’ll separate. Some rubber mats even have studs on them for increased grip when lifting weights. Thick rubber mats are the best type of mat to protect floors against heavy machinery like squat racks and stationary bikes.

Unfortunately, rubber has a distinct odour. Everyone has smelt it before. The unique smell comes from VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) created when the raw materials of rubber are converted into a latex form. In addition, most rubber is vulcanized, which gives it a resistance against heat and cold, while giving it a little more bounce. The vulcanization process adds to the smell. Slowly, over the course of months, rubber mats will out-gas the VOCs, and eventually the smell will diminish.

Overall Grade of Rubber Mats:

Noise Dampening Ability- 4.5 out of 5

Protection-4 out of 5

Odour- 1 out of 5 (1 being the worst smelling)

(Honourable mention- Rubber mats are significantly heavier than EVA mats, which means you’re going to have a hard time moving them around)

EVA Jigsaw Mats – home gym

EVA jigsaw mats are strong and durable multipurpose mats which are easy to move. Often referred to as “foam rubber, ” its properties mimic that of rubber. EVA stands for ethylene-vinyl acetate and is an extremely versatile and durable substance. EVA is a closed-cell foam, with pockets of gas cross-linked to create a dense foam. Although EVA foam mats are extremely light, they posses a durability that is unapparelled by foam mats.

Another major benefit is that EVA jigsaw mats are less expensive than rubber and XPE foam. Produced in large sheets, EVA foam mats can be produced thicker without laminating multiple layers. Manufacturers use dies to cut them into interlocking puzzle pieces.

Just like rubber, EVA foam mats have an acrid odour to them. They off-gas a noxious gas called formamide, which, although not toxic, can leave a room smelling like sulphur.

Overall Grade of EVA High-density Foam Mats

Noise Dampening Ability- 3.5

Protection- 4 out of 5

Odour- 1.5 out of 5

(Honourable mentions: EVA jigsaw mats are the most economical mats for larger spaces, but grime and dirt can get between the seams).

Conclusion

Rubber and EVA jigsaw mats are comparable in their ability to protect the flooring in your house, with rubber slightly winning out in noise dampening ability. However, with a slightly less noxious smell, EVA mats are more ideal inside a high traffic area in your home. If you’re going to cover a large space in your house with gym flooring, then EVA jigsaw mats are the ideal choice. But if you’ve only got a small space to cover, then rubber mats might be your go to.

-Dave Van Kooten

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