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My partner and I are about to furnish a large room with gym equipment. We recently moved into our new home and had the entire first floor tiled in porcelain 2x2 square feet tiles and love it. In the room we're going to turn into our gym we want to protect the newly tiled floors with rubber stall mats we purchased from Factory Supply. They have round circular knobbles. Some people keep them facing up and some place them on the floor with the knobbles facing the floor. I was hoping to keep them facing up but then my partner reminded me that we squat in socks and that this won't feel good on feet with socks on only. Had I kept the knobbles facing up I would have used Gorilla tape to tape the seams underneath. This is why I want to do this. But with the knobbles facing the floor I don't see how I can use tape to create an impenetrable seal. Here is what our mats look like:

https://www.greatmats.com/rubber-stall-mats/washbay-rubber-stall-mats-button-top-4x6x12h.php

Ever notice mats placed on a floor and at the seams where debris, dirt and gunk fall between the seams that there is permanent discoloration or marks after several years? I was hoping to avoid this by using tape but since I will more than likely keep the knobbles facing downward I am not sure how to create a seal to prevent debris from falling between the seams. We plan to have this gym set up indefinitely. I'm only concerned that when we move and sell in the future that if the floor has damage or is stained or altered along all the seams of the mats that it will work to our disadvantage when we sell. Plus, I wouldn't want to damage our newly tiled floors in the first place.

We also live in the desert and it's very windy here. The dirt is pretty much sand based and we're always sweeping away sand that gets in the house ALL THE TIME. So I could only image what sand seeping through the seams of the rubber mats would eventually do over time. I could see the grains of sand grinding away at the floor causing marks or discoloration along all the seam lines over the years.

What would help protect my floor over the long haul?

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  • Hmm you could find out what rubber the mats are and actually attach them to eachother, or you could lay down thin plastic sheet before you lay down the mats. Then the seal won't matter.
    – K H
    Apr 16, 2021 at 8:06
  • I wondered about laying some type of protective paper. I didn't think of plastic. That might work.
    – Adrien
    Apr 16, 2021 at 9:06
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    Do you ever drop your weights? If so, I'd be more worried about cracking your floor. I might consider adding a layer of plywood below the mats to protect the floor from being damaged by impact.
    – jwh20
    Apr 16, 2021 at 10:31
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    Consider putting them button side up except for one panel button down designated for "no shoes" activities like squats. That would allow you to tape them all together with the exception of the one piece. You could tape that as well by making your own wider tape out of strips layered together. It could go from the flats of the surrounding pieces then across several rows of buttons. Once they're all in place, the tape isn't really holding them, it's just collecting the crud that falls through.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 16, 2021 at 10:51
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    I know most folks intend to set them down easy but there are times when you need to drop them to avoid injury. It only takes one drop to crack a tile floor.
    – jwh20
    Apr 16, 2021 at 17:19

1 Answer 1

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Just going to throw the relevant suggestions into an answer:

Sheet plastic under the whole floor I think is the most thorough and cheap option. Well placed double sided tape will prevent a slipping hazard.

I second the recommendation of jwh20 in throwing down a layer of plywood or similar to reduce the risk of drop damage. The crushing destruction of the wood fibre will absorb an immense amount more energy than the rubber mat. It is possible to inset a tile level with an existing floor, but it is a huge pain and it won't be many tiles that make you wish you'd laid plywood.

You can mostly lay them button side up as FreeMan suggests to make them easier to tape together, and I'd note if you apply it warm to clean surfaces, many types of tape are flexible enough that button side down isn't a huge issue. Wider tape will work better as well. However, taping long seams tightly on the underside of something is a huge pain.

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  • I bought some polyethylene sheets to lay down on the floor to protect them from rubber and sand/dirt. Are people here recommending 3/4" thick plywood as a shock absorbing underlayment? It's just that wood is extremely expensive now so I'd be disinclined to buy it due to the hefty cost.
    – Adrien
    Apr 22, 2021 at 11:56
  • If you have a sensible weight limit 1/2" or 5/8 might be fine in combination with your mats. If it's cheaper where you live, chipboard would likely be a good substitute.
    – K H
    Apr 22, 2021 at 12:13

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