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If you’re converting your garage to a gym, one of the most important yet overlooked components is the garage gym flooring. I agree, flooring for a home gym doesn’t quite have the same appeal as a new rig setup and will therefore become an after thought, but it’s quite literally the foundation of a great garage gym.
Let me give you 10 reasons I believe horse stall mats are your absolute best, most affordable option available.
Why Build a Home Gym
Real quick, before I list the virtues of horse stall mats for your garage gym flooring, I wanted to segway and tell you what led me to building out a garage gym in the first place. Just scroll down to the next section if you wanna get right to it.
Converting my garage to a home gym for the longest time was a bit of a pipe dream. It’s something I knew I wanted and would absolutely use, but I could never convince myself to pull the trigger.
Instead, 5 days a week I’d drag myself out of bed, grab my keys, and make my way to the local Planet Fitness. Don’t get my wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Planet Fitness. It’s a heck of a bargain and you gotta love that Lunk Alarm should you ever accidentally drop a weight. No, by and large, most days I didn’t mind going there, until I did.
Sure, with over 300 cardio and weight stations, you would think there wouldn’t be an issue finding an empty machine. Au contraire! More and more often, I’d find myself making breakneck 180 degree U-turns because once again, someone was using a piece of equipment I wanted. No biggie, I would just use another and come back.
But then there was the chronic lifers. You know what I’m talking about. The dude/chick/whatever that sets up residency and never leaves. I’m a get in and get ‘er done kind of person at the gym and frankly, I just don’t have the patience to wait for someone’s personal selfie Insta session. That frequent annoyance was yet another push out the door for me.
What finally pushed me over the edge was, what I call, the squatter. There was always that one person that wanted to use the machine you were on and would stare at you until you finished up. Heaven forbid they use another machine in the meantime. No, the squatter is not so easily deterred.
As I said, I get my sets in and move on without a lot of idling. So for someone to eye bully me into giving up my bench was just too much.
And that ladies and gentleman was what led me to making one of the best decisions I’ve ever made: finally converting half my garage to a home gym.
Horse Stall Mats: Your Best Affordable Garage Gym Flooring
It’s sort of funny that the most durable and affordable garage gym flooring option is actually found at the unlikeliest of places, Tractor Supply. With over 2000 stores in 49 states, the nearest Tractor Supply might be closer than you think.
Assuming a location is nearby, here are 10 reasons why I think horse mats are the perfect garage gym flooring.
1. Horse Stall Mats are the perfect size
Measuring 4×6′, you can cover a lot of ground without having to purchase a lot of mats. In my garage gym, for example, I have a 2 car garage. One side is 100% dedicated to being the gym. I bought 6 mats total and that covers 144 sqft or almost exactly half of the total space available and it’s perfect.
2. Horse Stall Mats are extremely durable
It’s been almost a year since I completed my home gym buildout and so far, the floor mats have held up really well. So much so, that there’s virtually no signs of wear and tear to them.
Given that the intended purpose of these mats is for horses to walk on, little ol’ me shouldn’t be able to mangle them anytime soon.
Believe me, from Tabata to HIIT to all out CrossFit style workouts, I do every type of workout you can think of on these floors and they just don’t wear out. I’ve been very happy with how well they’re holding up.
3. Horse Stall Mats are cost effective
Coming in at $54.99 per mat, you really won’t find a better bargain for your garage gym flooring. Or actually, go ahead and price out the alternatives and you’ll see that Tractor Supply mats can’t be beat.
Again, to cover half the floor in my 2 car garage only ran me just over $300 dollars to cover. In my opinion, that’s a steal!
4. Horse Stall Mats are easy to clean
So here’s the deal, if these mats are meant to withstand urine and manure, surely they can withstand a little bit of sweat. In fact, they do very nicely.
The closed-cell vulcanized rubber won’t absorb water either. Unlike the interlocking soft foam mats you can buy, horse stall mats don’t have pores that will hold onto moisture.
To keep things sanitary, I typically do a weekly deep cleaning of the floors and it never requires an extensive amount of effort on my part. With a basic mop and anti-bacterial solution, any dirt lifts away with ease.
5. They have great shock absorption
At 3/4″, horse stall mats are the ideal garage floor thickness too. It offers a significant amount of protection and assures I won’t crack the underlying concrete if I happen to drop a loaded barbell. That and it doesn’t sound like a plane crashing down into my living room if I let something slip.
Although there’s no bounce to them per se, they do offer a slight amount of give. That’s not only great for your body, but for your weights as well. I don’t tend to throw my dumbbells, but if I drop them from a couple inches up, the flooring provides just the right amount of give.
6. Horse Stall Mats look great (IMHO)
Depending on your local store, Tractor Supply sells two different versions of the horse stall mats, a smooth surface and one with a herringbone type pattern.
I happen to buy the herringbone type and I really like the look and feel of them. The raised edges provide just the right amount of anti-skid you’re looking for, without tripping you up.
7. They’re easy to replace
I don’t think you’ll be doing this too often, if ever, but as long as you don’t glue your mats to your floor, replacing them is quick and easy.
Every mat has an anti-skid surface which keeps them in place so there’s really no need for any adhesive.
If for some reason your mats begin to show their age, simply roll it up and lay down a new one. Simple!
8. They provide noise reduction
Without having to throw a bunch of noise dampeners on the walls, horse stall mats are great at reducing noise. If you notice a bit of an echo in your garage while you’re talking, these will take that all away.
My garage just happens to be underneath our media room and I almost never notice a sound when someone else is working out.
9. Horse Stall Mats are great for any exercise
The multi-purpose use of these rubber mats is endless. Whatever your workout preference, whether it’s deadlifts, squats, jump rope, Jerks, situps, etc., you can do it all without compromise. You simply don’t have to worry about buying different types of flooring for your various types of exercises.
10. They have a 5 year warranty
At only $55 a pop, I wouldn’t really expect these mats to last more than a couple years, but thankfully, they come with a 5 year warranty. That’s pretty incredible and it offers some peace of mind for the hardcore super athletes out there. So go on now, throw those plates down cause you’re gonna be covered. But don’t really. That’s just bad etiquette.
How do you remove the smell from Horse Stall Mats?
As I just outlined, horse stall mats are great and I love them in my gym so far, but there are some things you should know before committing. If you do any amount of research, the most common complaint about horse mats is that they have a very strong rubber smell to them initially. For me that would have been a deal breaker but there is a way to dramatically reduce the rubber smell. Here’s my advice:
- Before bringing the stall mats into your garage, you must “air them out” in the sun for a couple days. I left them in my driveway and would flip them over midway through the day to allow the sun to heat up and release any built up VOCs from the rubber.
- Each time I would flip the mats, I would use a PH neutral soap, a mop, and a scrub brush to wipe them down, and then rinse them off with the hose.
- In addition to the soap, I would also spray them with an odor neutralizing spray. There are a lot of products out there. I used OdoBan and that seemed to do the trick.
I’ve read that some people will skip all of these steps and just lay them down in their garage and wait for the smell to abate, but that process can take several weeks before the smell disappears.
What’s the best way to move Horse Stall Mats?
Weighing in at 94lbs each, moving a horse stall mat is no joke. It takes a serious amount of strength to do alone and is therefore better with a partner.
Also, given the mats are super flexible, that too makes them fairly unwieldy. After some trial and error, I discovered that if you roll the mat up like a burrito before attempting to move them, it’s sooooo much easier.
One more thing of note, wear some leather gloves before you attempt to move them. If the rubber has been sitting in the sun, they tend to get seriously hot and will burn your hands. Even if they’ve been indoors, the mats can be a bit abrasive to your skin and gloves will nip that problem in the bud.
Can you drive on or park your car on Horse Stall Mats?
If you’re looking for garage gym flooring that you can drive on or park your car on, Horse Stall Mats are just the thing. These mats are incredibly durable and won’t crush under the pressure of your car tires. It’s worth considering that driving on any type of floor mat will potentially cause more wear and tear.
Think of it this way: if horse stall mats can withstand the daily abuses of a hooved horse, surely it can handle a parked car.