We often get asked how to best lay flooring for a gym or home gym. We've come up with a short list of tips and tricks to help you get a great result with minimal effort.
First of all, make sure the surface is level and even. Concrete slab floors are perfect if they're in good condition. Timber, tiled and carpeted floors are also fine as the mats will sit on top without damaging the surface. Just be aware that any bumps or dips in the surface could result in an uneven finish, mat corners that lift, and could even create trip hazards.
If there are any stairs leading up to the room, measure the step height and check with your local council regulations as to what the maximum allowable step height is. Raising the floor level by 15mm with rubber gym flooring could just put you over the maximum step height in to the room!
Most rooms will have at least one entry doorway. These can be tricky to negotiate as the floor is about to be raised by 15mm, so a swinging door is likely to bottom out on the rubber mats. If the flooring is going in permanently you may decide the shave the bottom of the doors to provide the necessary clearance. Alternatively you can create a 'cutout' in the floor tiles to provide space for the door to swing open. If you have sliding doors you won't have this issue as they don't cross the floor surface in the room.
Next, consider the shape of the room. If you're working in a room that isn't an exact square (most aren't!) you'll save a lot of potential alignment issues and subsequent trimming by laying your first row down the long wall, and placing the second row parallel to the first. This way if the walls aren't all square you to have to trim as many mats to suit the shape of the room.
To minimise movement and to avoid the mats looking 'out of alignment' you may want to consider laying the mats in a brick pattern. We've been doing it with bricks for centuries as it helps lock them in to one another and create a stronger wall, so why not do it with floor tiles? The mats can't slip past one another when laid in a brick pattern so they won't move. If you lay them corner to corner you may end up spending a lot of time trying to align dozens of corners with one another. In addition mats laid corner to corner may move over time, taking your painstakingly aligned corners back out of alignment!
Every few rows its a good idea to take a piece of 4x2 and push the mats in to each other to help close any gaps and keep them tight. When you reach the opposite wall, trim the last mat a little larger than what the gaps measures. For a 5m run, trim the last mat 5mm wider than the gap. For a 10m run trim the last one 10mm larger than the gap. Then pack that last tile down by standing on it, and pushing back against the other rows until it sits flat. Over time rubber floor tiles will shrink a little, so its a good idea to lay them packed as tightly as possible.
If you have any doorways at the edges of the flooring, the mats will be difficult to contain. Your options include either gluing the open edge down, or if the floor surface doesn't allow for that then other options include a steel strip screwed in to the floor surface, or double sided carpet tile tape also works well on a concrete surface.
To trim the tiles, the easiest option is to use a Stanley knife with a fresh blade, and a straight edge (a 1m steel ruler is ideal) to make your first cut nice and straight. Once the first cut has been made its a good idea to lay the mat over an edge to open up the cut and make it easy to see. Then you can continue to pass the knife along the cut line 6-7 times until you're right through. Light pressure is adequate when the blade is sharp, and minimises the chances of making a mess of the cut, or cutting yourself.
Keep any full width offcuts, as you can use these to refinish any gaps that open up in years to come.