Rubber is by far the #1 material of choice for gym flooring, but the decision as to which product type and brand to choose is not always that simple. There are many important differences in how rubber flooring is engineered and manufactured, and these differences contribute significantly to how the product performs and the levels of comfort and safety it provides to end users.

To understand what type of rubber flooring you will need for your facility, it helps to understand the environments in which the flooring will be used. You will find that there is often much activity and wear and tear for the floor to deal with! High foot traffic, equipment being dragged, equipment being dropped, accidentally or on purpose, carts being pulled, weights being dropped, jumping, running, pivoting and of course, sweat, spillages, moisture, spillages, and bacteria.

The first question that every buyer needs to ask and understand when selecting rubber flooring relates to how the mat is constructed, specifically how the rubber is bound or bonded together. All rubber floors consist of rubber crumb “pellets” that are packed together to form a single rubber mass.

North West Rubber uses a process called “vulcanization” to create its rubber flooring. Vulcanization uses high heat and pressure to create “cross links” which make individual polymers link together and become one. To illustrate what vulcanization means in terms of performance, we’ve created a list of the top 10 benefits of selecting vulcanized rubber for your athletic complex or fitness facility:

  • EXTREME DURABILITY: The 2 most important attributes of vulcanized rubber for fitness facilities are tensile strength and elongation. Tensile strength measures the force required to break the molecular bonds, while elongation measures how far the rubber will stretch before breaking. North West Rubber Sportfloor’s vulcanization properties mean a tight, completely solid, almost “indestructible” and impenetrable rubber surface, more resistant to wear and tear and moisture penetration. The extreme durability associated with vulcanized rubber will help your facility flooring withstand the impact of the toughest fitness routines and the rigors of free weights and heavy machinery.

  • FLOOR PROTECTION: Since we use only high pressure and heat to bind our rubber, our floors contain no fillers or glue, such as those used in polyurethane bound rubber flooring products. With 20% more rubber than other non-vulcanized rubber flooring, Sportfloor serves up superior density and shock absorption, protecting sub-floors from damage associated with heavy foot traffic, intense workouts, weights, and machinery. Without vulcanized rubber protection, imagine what a 500-pound deadlift can do to an unprotected floor!

  • END-USER SAFTEY: Imagine if an athlete is running or jumping on concrete. The impact to the joints is shocking. Vulcanized rubber flooring absorbs some of this shock to reduce the strain on the athlete’s joints as they land or bounce on the floor. This is force reduction, otherwise known as impact or shock absorption. Even in a non-athletic facility, the force reduction qualities of vulcanized rubber increase comfort and helps reduce strain to the feet and legs of all people using that facility.
  • In addition, vulcanized rubber wears very consistently, unlike a urethane bound material that will break apart when the glue holding the rubber together begins to deteriorate.  This creates a uniform coefficient of friction that allows the user consistency throughout the facility so they don’t have to worry about one step being different to another.

  • ANTI-MICROBIAL: Vulcanized rubber flooring is non-porous and anti-microbial, which prevents gym floors from harbouring bacteria, liquids, and odours. The result is a clean and safe environment for gym goers. The ability of vulcanized rubber to repel moisture also has a positive impact on the lifespan of the floor; less moisture and bacteria means less likelihood to crack or rot.

  • ECO-FRIENDLY: Rubber is an extremely renewable resource. It is made from the sap of the hevea tree, which, similar to maple syrup, does not harm the tree. Most North West Rubber SportFloor products contain up to 100% recycled rubber, using rubber from end of life tires, or latex gloves for example. In addition, given its attributes of non-porosity and durability, vulcanized rubber flooring reduces the quantities of water, soap and sealers required, which helps to limit the amount of hazardous materials that could get flushed into the environment.  

  • CUSTOMIZABLE: North West Rubber has the ability to customize our vulcanized flooring, starting with a great variety of custom logos and colours. Our ProXL and ReAction vulcanized rubber flooring can be color matched within +/- one Pantone number, and our water jet technology allows us to create any logo in a variety of colors. Our top-layer vulcanized virgin rubber SportFloor adds an additional dimension of aesthetics to its functionality, bringing beauty and branding to life in any facility.

  • LOW LIFETIME COSTS: North West Rubber consulted its general contractor partners in order to understand the cost of installing and managing 1,000 square feet of flooring in a facility over a regular 15 year lifetime. Over that span of time, the lifetime cost of vulcanized rubber is highly competitive. While vulcanized rubber is installed at a slight premium cost, it will not need to be replaced during the entire 15 year lifetime; plus cleaning costs of vulcanized rubber are 60% lower than other flooring materials. Finally, since vulcanized rubber is poreless, there are zero material and labour costs associated with sealing and re-sealing.

  • LOW MAINTENANCE: Vulcanized rubber floors are very low maintenance. All that is required to maintain a vulcanized rubber surface is a daily dust mopping with occasional washing using environmentally kind, low pH cleaners. There is no need for gallons of water and soap, and of course, no requirements for sealers, coatings and wax.

  • NOISE REDUCTION: Let’s face it, a facility full of clients working out can get very loud. From dumbbells falling, feet stomping on treadmills, and medicine balls hitting the ground, noise is natural in the gym. But ultra-dense vulcanized rubber flooring can help manage these acoustics, and also reduce vibrations associated with high traffic and equipment usage.

  • LOW ODOUR: It’s important to consider air quality when selecting rubber flooring for your facility, . Perhaps the easiest way to be able to measure and assess the presence of volatile organic compounds (known as VOCs) is to look for a recognized third party certification such as FloorScore. Floorscore provides a protection of indoor air quality which means that specifying some types of vulcanized flooring can help contribute towards LEED certification. North West Rubber’s vulcanized virgin rubber top-layer SportFloor products are Floor Score certified. Related to VOCs, it also should be noted that the anti-microbial nature of vulcanized rubber does not support microbial growth, so this also helps contribute towards better indoor air quality.

Given the compelling properties of vulcanized rubber, it’s no surprise that it is the preferred choice of flooring for fitness and athletic facilities, where there is a need for safety, comfort, durability, hygiene, ease of cleaning and low lifetime costs of usage and ownership. North West Rubber SportFloor’s lineup of premium high-performance vulcanized rubber flooring has been engineered to elevate gyms to their fullest potential. 

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  • Jordyn Smith