What’s the Best Flooring for CrossFit?
Choosing the right floor is a big choice! Every activity is different. Make sure you get the best flooring for CrossFit so that you can drop heavy barbells and do plyometric movements on the perfect shock-absorbent surface.
Building a CrossFit box or home workout space is kind of its own beast. It’s not like a traditional gym where each activity gets its own designated area. For CrossFit, your floor has to be built to handle everything from mobility to plyometrics to failed Olympic lifts.
CrossFit is based on the idea that you can start with practically nothing. There’s no fancy equipment and, usually, no bells and whistles. The only things you need are some barbells, weights and the right floor.
No, you cannot drop 600# barbells on concrete. That will not end well.
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CrossFit Flooring Material
First thing’s first. Let’s talk material.
Many gym owners know that rubber is really the only way to go when it comes to CrossFit flooring. I don’t usually give only one option, but look at other gym flooring material: foam, carpet, vinyl and sometimes, wood. The truth is, none of those are strong enough to protect your subfloor.
Rubber flooring is the best of the best when it comes to gym flooring. It’s what you’ll need if you’re going to be doing CrossFit or CrossFit-style workouts.
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CrossFit Flooring Options
Now that you know you’ve gotta go with rubber, you do have a few options.
Spoiler alert: this is the best one.
You can purchase your rubber rolls (usually)* in the exact size. The long rolls allow your floor to be virtually seamless. Of course, you will have the small seams between each roll, but you won’t even be able to see it unless you’re really looking.
Rubber rolls are awesome for covering a large space. I mean, think about it — can you imagine interlocking each individual tile together over the space of a huge box?
It can totally be done, but that’s not exactly a party I’d want to go to. While rubber tiles are often considered to be the easier option, I would actually say that, for a large space, rubber rolls offer the easier install.
Pros of Rubber Floor Rolls for CrossFit
- Seamless look and feel. My box has rubber rolls and whenever I try to use them to measure out distance, I legit have the hardest time seeing where the seams are. I’ve spent plenty of time working out on floors made from multiple horse stall mats, and OMG, I love love love the rolls!
- Price. You can get rubber rolls for your CrossFit box for less than $2/sqft! That is pretty legit!
- Durability and longevity. Rolls, especially if you glue them down, will have absolutely no movement. No coming up at the edges, getting moved or shuffled around. This means your rubber can really do its thang for you for the long haul. Like, we warranty our rolls for 5 years, but you can probably use them for a good 10+.
- Custom cuts available. For us (and most rubber flooring companies), rubber rolls are all 4′ wide. We offer custom-cut lengths from 15’+. This reduces waste – both materials and $$.
- Maintenance. Because your rubber rolls aren’t moving around, you’re not getting dirt in between the seams that you have to clean between and underneath. Rubber rolls just require vacuuming and the occasional damp mop.
Cons of Rubber Floor Rolls for CrossFit
- Rolls are heavy. I know, I know, you’re a CrossFitter. You can probably clean and jerk the entire roll yourself. A 4’x25′ roll weights about 220# so, while I’m sure you’re capable of moving that weight (and more) around on your own, you definitely want to enlist a little help. The good news is you probably have a bunch of buff CrossFit friends/members that can help you out.
- Installation. While you can install rubber rolls yourself, it’s really best to higher a professional installer. This is especially true if you’re going to glue your floor down.
Rubber tiles are known for their ease and simplicity. Clicking in together like puzzle pieces, they are truly one of the easiest flooring options on the market. It is a job anyone, and I mean anyone can do, and the tiles look great!
You can also add some flair and design with different colors if that’s your jam, or keep it simple. Rubber tiles are super popular for the home gym largely due to their approachability. They’re like the twist top wine of floors if you will.
So if you’re planning on setting up your own home CrossFit space, tiles are a great choice.
Pros of Rubber Floor Tiles for CrossFit
- Portable. Not sure you’re going to stay in your location for the long haul? Tiles may be the right option for you. They will cost you more up front but, unlike rolls, you don’t need to glue them down. That means when it’s time to move locations, you can pick up your flooring and take it with you. They’re also great if you plan on creating a nonpermanent home workout space.
- Easy, DIY installation. Ever put together a puzzle? Well, this is easier because all the pieces fit together!*
- Seamless look and feel. Tiles, like rolls, will give you a seamless look and feel, even with way more seams. The interlocking installation keeps them locked tightly together. You still won’t need to worry about them coming apart or moving around.
Cons of Rubber Floor Tiles for CrossFit
- Price. Tiles can run upwards of 45% more per square foot than rubber rolls for the exact same thickness. They will save you money on the install, but it doesn’t usually even out for a large space.
- Tedious for large spaces. You have to lock each one together and cut each edge if you have leftover material. You can totally do it yourself, but expect it to take a long time.
*Note: Most tiles are interlocking, but some are not.
So many CrossFit boxes start out using horse stall mats. And, I mean, I get it. The thinner options are pretty cheap and you don’t need to hire an installer. They make a little bit of sense when you’re first starting out.
However, as someone who has worked out on these guys before, I feel pretty strongly that negatives outweigh the positives here.
Pros of Horse Stall Mats for CrossFit
- Price. You can find pretty cheap horse stall mats out there, but you get what you pay for.
Cons of Horse Stall Mats for CrossFit
- Less protection for your subfloor. If you go with the cheaper, thinner mats, they won’t protect your floor as well as a thicker option. If you go for a thicker option, you’ll end up paying more than if you’d just gone with rubber rolls in the first place.
- Seams, movement and dirt. This part is the worst! I remember gaps as wide as 1″ between mats. I’d be at the bottom of a burpee staring at the ridiculously dirty concrete subfloor. And don’t even get me started on what you’d see if you pulled up one of the mats! They sometimes move around during workouts and even come up at the seams, making them a tripping hazard.
- Price. What? I know, I just said that price was a pro! But listen, if you go with good quality stall mats (and you can find some that are really good!), they end up being almost as expensive as rubber tiles. The whole reason to choose the mats is to save money, but it really doesn’t work out in the long run.
Related content >> Rubber Flooring: Tiles vs. Rolls
What Thickness Do You Need?
Now that you’ve decided which flooring you’re going with, the last decision to make is thickness. This is arguably the most important part of your decision.
CrossFit isn’t known for being gentle on the floor. We’re encouraged to drop heavy weights, sometimes from a deadlift, but sometimes from overhead. Imagine what repeatedly dropping the barbell after a 300# clean and jerk can do to your subfloor!
Even worse, in workouts, you’re staying in one spot and repeatedly dropping your barbell who knows how many times. The thickness of your floor determines the layer of protection you’re getting. And CrossFit requires some legit protection.
We’re not going to talk about 1/4″. It’s just not a good option for CrossFit.
8mm is really the thinnest floor you should get for CrossFit. It’s great if you’re building a garage gym and it won’t be getting as much abuse as a 7 class per day gym where everyone is training for regionals.
8mm is the go-to option for many commercial gyms. However, for a commercial CrossFit box, we recommend you beef it up. Just a little. #floorgainz
Dun duh duh dun. We have a winner!
Usually, I’m big on the giving you lots of options and then you can pick what’s best for you. Maybe it’s because I’m a CrossFit fanatic and I’ve tried so many of these options, but for real, this is the best flooring thickness for CrossFit.
Imagine you are like Goldilocks searching for the floor that is just right. 8mm is too thin, 1/2″ is too thick, but 3/8″ is just right.
All the thickness you need to protect your floor from heavy barbells, but still at a super affordable price. It is the best of both worlds.
A lot of people think 3/8″ isn’t going to be thick enough. Trust me. It is. I workout on it every day.
Let’s be real a minute. Can you use 1/2″ thick rubber flooring in your CrossFit gym? Absolutely.
Do you need to? No.
The 1/2″ thickness isn’t going to be any better for you than the 3/8″. I mean, you can totally buy it and spend more money, but I’m not really about getting people to spend money for no reason.
Okay, But Can You Just Tell Me Which One To Get?
As you may have guessed by now, the 3/8″ rubber rolls are the best flooring for CrossFit. But don’t take my word for it.
Here, you can see our 3/8″ rubber rolls used by Catalyst Athletics.
And here you can view a testimonial from Ken Miller, owner of CrossFit Tempe who also used our 3/8″ rubber rolls.
Depending on whether you’re doing a home/garage gym or flooring a commercial CrossFit box, you have a few different options. The best bet, though, for any space, are these 3/8″ Heavy Duty Rubber Rolls.