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Horse Stall Mats vs. Gym Mats:

Which are Better for Gym Flooring?

Creating a gym space in your own home can give you just as much confidence as your actual workout. With your own home gym area, you can eliminate commute time, crank up your favorite jams and buy more workout shoes with all your gym membership savings!

But if saving money is one of the main reasons you want to start your own home gym, the up-front costs can be overwhelming. Costs for dumbbells, benches and gym floor mats add up quickly.

The right gym flooring is essential for a quality exercise regimen. If you’re starting your home gym or looking to add weight stations at your commercial or CrossFit gym, it’s only natural to look for the cheapest options. But if you or your members are on a mission to get swole, you’ll want quality products that withstand strenuous workouts.

Finding Quality Gym Floor Mats

weight room on rubber gym mats

Whether you’re looking to cover a small weightlifting space, provide sturdy flooring under a treadmill or provide an area for hardcore plyometric moves, you’ll want durable rubber gym mats that don’t slide around as you do your thing. While rubber isn’t the only gym flooring option, it is the most versatile, lending itself to just about any workout.

Many first-time home gym makers try to get by with a few rubber horse stall mats. I get it – they’re cheap and easy to get a hold of, an obvious quick solution. But if you’re serious about your gym, you need something more durable and long-lasting that is meant for standing up against heavy traffic and free weights.

So what’s the difference between horse stall mats and rubber floor mats for gym use? And is it worth going for the higher-end gym mats? Let’s take a look.

Related content >> Rubber Mats Buying Guide


What are Horse Stall Mats?

Horse stall mats are made with high-quality recycled crumb rubber. While that may sound like the perfect prerequisite for gym flooring, remember these mats are designed for horses. The product’s primary purpose is to provide a comfortable floor for thoroughbreds and large animals.

Do Horse Stall Mats Work for Gym Flooring?

Flooring Inc 1/2 Inch Button Top Stall Mats

Because animal mats are durable and shock absorbent, they can function well as a human exercise mat. But some things about a mat made for large animals can destroy a workout experience.

For example, some rubber flooring products smell stronger than others, depending on the type of raw material used or how the flooring was made. And, be warned, the recycled crumb rubber used for horse stall mats is known to have a rather pungent smell.

Horse stall mats for gym use are typically 4’ x 6’ mats of either ½” or ¾” thickness. They’re a popular pick for home gym mats because they’re inexpensive and readily available. If you want to test the waters with your commitment to your home gym, these mats are an inexpensive way to get your feet wet. But remember, you get what you pay for.

What can you expect with horse stall mats for gym flooring? Let’s weigh out the pros and cons.

Pros of Horse Stall Mats for Gym Flooring

  • Price: Horse stall mats are typically inexpensive.
  • Shock absorbency: These mats can absorb a high level of impact. This makes them great for hardcore exercise programs like P90X, plyometrics and T25.
  • Water-resistant: One of the best things about rubber flooring is that it is extremely slip-resistant and water-resistant. You don’t have to worry about slipping and sliding around if you get a little sweaty.

Cons of Horse Stall Mats for Gym Flooring

  • Smell, smell, smell: Horse stall mats are made from recycled crumb rubber and may make your gym smell like a tire store. Not exactly what someone wants to inhale when they’re working out.
  • Seams, movement and dirt: These mats can move around and come up at the seams when you perform forceful movements like snatches, power cleans and jumps. Do you really want to be meeting a dirty concrete subfloor at the bottom of a burpee? And at a commercial gym, your members won’t be too happy if they have to constantly kick and nudge their floor mats back into position.
  • Can vary widely in thickness: It can be hard to find two mats that are exactly the same. Plus, the quality of the cut and sizing is not as good as standard rubber gym flooring. Your gym might look especially DIY with uneven seams and jagged edges.

What Are Gym Mats?

FlooringInc Premium Mats

The most durable rubber gym mats are machine cut and vulcanized from recycled rubber tires, which makes them a premium, high-density, long-lasting mat. Quality rubber flooring is strong, non-porous and low odor – a viable option for gym floor mats.

Gym floor mats are what the professional establishments use. You’ll see them in hockey arenas, schools, commercial gyms, hotels and ski resorts. But high-quality gym mats are also a top choice for the home-gym fitness buff because they are super durable, slip-resistant and look amazing in a DIY gym.

Here’s what you get with a high-quality, premium rubber mat:

Pros of Gym Mats for Gym Flooring

  • Low odor: While most rubber flooring mats will have an overwhelming smell to them initially, rubber mats for gym use are nothing like that nasty tire-store smell of horse stall mats.
  • Non-porous: Bring on the sweat! Gym mats are specially designed for those high-impact, sweat-breaking workouts like CrossFit and Insanity.
  • Premium appearance: Quality rubber mats have a smooth finish, making any gym look more professional and legit.
  • Best value: Rubber mats for gym use are super durable, ensuring that they’ll hold up through your toughest workouts. They may come with a higher price tag initially but save in time and frustration of constantly replacing cheap horse stall mats that can’t handle your ambitious workout schedule.
  • Water-resistant: Gym mats and horse stall mats both get points for being made of rubber, a great water-resistant flooring option. Sweaty workouts, spilled water, even poolside yoga – rubber flooring can withstand it all.
  • Shock absorption: Gym mats, especially our Premium Extreme and Shock Mats, are some of the toughest and most durable gym flooring options on the market. For tough workouts and heavy free weights, these strong gym mats will absorb the shock and impact. This helps keep your joints and subfloor safe and sound.
  • Sound insulation: Gym floor mats are great sound insulators, so you can work out day or night without disturbing anyone else in your home.
  • Durability: Gym mats are strong enough that if you dropped heavy free weights on them, the flooring underneath won’t get cracked or dented.

Cons of Gym Mats for Gym Flooring

  • Price: Although gym mats may not be the cheapest option, they provide the best value. High-impact rubber gym floor mats are affordable on their own, but they end up being more expensive per square foot.
  • Weight: Because these mats are so darn powerful, they are pretty heavy and bulky. You may need help moving them around.

Additional Rubber Gym Flooring Options

Gym mats are great for covering small areas and having the convenience of plopping the mat down wherever you want it, but they’re not your only option for getting durable rubber flooring in your gym. If you have a larger space to cover, rubber rolls or tiles are a great solution.

Horse Stall Mats vs. Rolled Rubber Flooring

Flooring Inc 3/8inch heavy duty rubber rolls

Rubber flooring rolls are a premier flooring type you’ll see in most traditional gyms. Known for their sharp, sleek looks and extreme durability, rubber rolls give your gym a professional appearance you won’t get with horse stall mats. When installed correctly, it is nearly impossible to see where one roll ends and another begins.

If you’re looking to cover a larger workout space, rubber gym flooring rolls are the way to go. You can even purchase high-impact rubber rolls specially designed to keep your joints safe during high-impact, plyometric movements.

Rubber flooring rolls will come in at a higher price than horse stall mats, ranging from under $1/sqft all the way to $7/sqft. But the increased price comes with increased quality. Heavy-duty commercial rolled rubber is built for extreme durability and is among the highest quality rubber gym flooring available.

Pros of Rubber Rolls for Gym Flooring

  • Great for large spaces
  • Cost efficient
  • Custom cut rolls allow you to purchase just the amount you need
  • Durable
  • Slip resistant
  • No seams or separating with heavy movement

Cons of Rubber Rolls for Gym Flooring

  • Very heavy — may need additional help installing
  • Installation is a larger process than simply laying a mat down
  • Pricier than horse stall mats

Horse Stall Mats vs. Rubber Floor Tiles

Flooring Inc 3/8inch Tight-Lock Tiles

Interlocking rubber floor tiles are another popular type of flooring you’ll see in traditional gyms. Known for their ease and simplicity, rubber flooring tiles click in together like puzzle pieces. Sure, it doesn’t get much easier than laying down gym or horse stall mats, but rubber floor tiles are the next best thing in terms of DIY-friendly installation!

Additionally, rubber tiles look great as a gym floor. You can add some flair and design with different colors if you really want to jazz it up, or keep it simple. Rubber tiles are super popular for the home gym largely due to their approachability.

Pros of Rubber Tiles for Gym Flooring

  • Professional appearance: Though you can see where tiles come together, high-quality rubber floor tiles can appear virtually seamless.
  • Easy installation
  • No glue or tape necessary!
  • Easy to cut to fit the shape of your room
  • Durable
  • Slip-resistant
  • Easy to store

Cons of Rubber Tiles for Gym Flooring

  • Typically more expensive than gym mats or horse stall mats
  • Installation, while simple, can be time-consuming in large spaces

Which is Better for Gym Flooring: Horse Stall or Gym Mats?

Since horse stall mats and regular gym mats are made of durable, shock-absorbent rubber, both options can potentially serve you well for a workout area. So, what does it really come down to? Whether or not you want a high-quality gym.

Let’s compare and contrast the two to see how they measure up in different categories. Whether you go with horse stall mats or premium mats depends on what qualities matter most to you.


What types of workouts will you be performing on these gym floor mats? The powerbuilder who throws around barbells and heavy free weights needs a more durable mat than the yogis or barre fanatics. Whatever you select should be durable enough for the type of equipment you plan to use.


We’ve already covered that horse stall mats attract the budget-conscious DIYers while premium mats are going to be the more durable, long-lasting investment. Either way, here’s a clear picture of what you’re looking at price-wise.

Gym floor mats are typically sold by the full mat price, rather than by square foot. They range from about $40 to $150, depending on thickness. Horse stall mats typically cost around $2/sq.ft.

Floor mats for gym use are the more economically smart option in the long run. But if the price is the most important factor for you, you may want to start with horse stall mats as an inexpensive way to test your commitment to your home gym.


Since both horse stall mats and gym mats are rubber, they both provide a strong, durable and shock-absorbent flooring for high-impact workouts. However, vulcanized and virgin rubber are the most durable, while eco material is the least.

If you need superb durability, resilient gym floor mats are the best option for you. You can drop heavy free weights and barbells without ruining your subfloor.


Gym floor mats all the way! If the look and feel of your home gym is important to you, you’ll want the smooth finish and professional style of the premium gym mats.

The Verdict: Which is Better for Gym Flooring?

While you may be tempted to go with the inexpensive horse stall mats, it’s worth saving yourself money and frustration down the road by investing in strong, durable gym floor mats right from the start. Your gym floor is literally the foundation of your fitness journey – set yourself up for success with reliable premium flooring.
Ready to cover your workout space with durable premium gym mats?