We’re flooring people and not psychics, but we’ll bet that for a lot of folks, rubber’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think “new floors.” Rubber might not make the cut in an episode of This Old House, but it is commonly found in commercial buildings, public spaces, and maybe even in your laundry or playroom. Gyms, healthcare facilities, schools, and office buildings choose rubber for its environmental sustainability, durability, ease of maintenance, and longevity in areas with high foot traffic. And it’s becoming more and more popular in residential projects, too.
In the home, rubber flooring is often used in playrooms, weight rooms, laundry areas, near kitchen sinks, and in basements where its water and slip-resistance make it one of the safest flooring materials for families with children. Rubber flooring comes in precut floor mats, interlocking tiles, or on a roll, so you can get the job done without tossing leftover scraps in the garbage bin.
One of rubber’s biggest advantages in home renovation is that as long as you use natural rubber with no chemical additives, it’s safe to install on top of your existing hardwood, laminate or tile flooring to temporarily transform any corner of your home into an exercise room, activity center, workshop, or nursery. Due to rubber’s rugged flexibility, it muffles the sounds of dropped dumbbells, clacking heels, scurrying pets, and rambunctious kids. And being a naturally dense material, rubber is a great insulator with an R-value of 2.2, compared to ceramic tile’s R-value of 1.0, which translates to higher energy efficiency and lower heating bills–all from an eco-friendly and sustainable flooring material!
Natural rubber comes from sap extracted from rubber trees, which, like collecting sap for maple syrup, is carefully done so that the tree’s growth remains unaffected, making rubber a renewable natural resource. Rubber itself is recyclable, with discarded flooring cut up and repurposed as mulch, or on playgrounds where its shock-absorption abilities protect from bruises, or as a hygienic non-slip flooring option in gyms and locker rooms.
Another benefit of rubber is that it’s soft and easy on the feet, knees, hips, and lower back, which makes it ideal for garages and workshops, and you have to stand on it to clean it, so that makes maintenance a snap, too. Rubber floors should be vacuumed and mopped once a week using a damp mop and mild detergent. It’s that easy! With such simple maintenance, it’s obvious why rubber is popular in large professional and medical facilities where safety comes first.
It’s not all roses, though. One potential drawback of rubber flooring is its unusual and distinctive odor, which some homeowners find unpleasant. Fortunately, the odor applies only to newly installed floors and does dissipate over time. Sticking with natural rubbers over synthetics will help, as the chemical treatments used in synthetic rubber manufacturing intensify the odor. Most homeowners, however, find that the safety, water-resistance, soundproofing, reduced energy costs, easy maintenance, and simple DIY installation of rubber flooring is well worth a few days of a (potentially) funky odor.
If you’re looking for a quick fix to transform any corner of your home into a playroom, home gym, or workshop, don’t hesitate to click the free consultation button or give us a call to speak with one of our flooring experts today!