Rubber flooring is one of the most versatile and resilient flooring options available on the market. While rubber floors are most commonly used for industrial or heavy-duty purposes, many families find home rubber flooring a valuable and safe alternative to other more expensive flooring options. It is much more versatile than some of the more expensive flooring options such as ceramic tile or hardwood. In fact, home rubber flooring is often purchased for the sole purpose of protecting those expensive floors. Rubber floors also offer an extra level of comfort and anti-slip properties that makes them the perfect versatile flooring option for both indoor and outdoor use.
Traction Enhancing Properties of Rubber Flooring
Rubber naturally has a high coefficient of friction which keeps your feet firmly planted on the floor while walking or running even when moisture is present. Often times, rubberized flooring comes with added surface patterns to enhance rubber’s natural slip-resistant properties. Although rubber surfacing already has excellent traction properties, it is always nice to have an added back-up plan for extra assurance. A few examples of rubber surfacing patterns include coin-top, diamond-plate and corrugated grooves. The raised surface of these patterns acts as extra gripping points your shoes can grab onto for added traction. Also, various mixtures of elastomers give rubber flooring extra durability, life and grease and oil resistant properties making them the ideal safety flooring option for almost all surfaces and spaces.
Common Elastomers Used in Rubberized Flooring
Rubber flooring is available in various different durometer hardness options that come with their own set of characteristics. What determines the durometer is the mixture of natural rubber material with other synthetic rubber alternatives. Some synthetic rubber flooring options are not only moisture resistant but also grease and oil resistant as well as chemical resistant. Other elastomers excel outdoors where they can be exposed to harsh weather conditions and the damaging UV rays of the sun. Due to the synthetic compounds found in some rubber flooring options, it is also extremely resistant to extreme high and low temperatures making the perfect resilient flooring alternative to other flooring options.
1(a). Recycled Rubber
Recycled rubber is one of the most popular rubber options chosen for rubberized flooring. This is due to their durability and ability to provide comfort and traction no matter where it is placed and under most conditions. Recycled rubber is made up of old or discarded vehicle tires which makes it eco-friendly and cost-efficient. These discarded vehicle tires are then ground into fine crumb-like pieces that is then mixed in with a binder to create a larger sheet of rubber. With the characteristics of vehicle tires, recycled rubber is extremely durable, versatile and highly abrasion and weather resistant making recycled rubber flooring an ideal flooring option for both industrial and residential use.
1(b). Reclaimed Rubber
Another popular option rubber flooring can be made of is reclaimed rubber. Like recycled rubber, reclaimed rubber is made up of old or discarded vehicle tires. Unlike recycled rubber, reclaimed rubber goes through a process called “vulcanization” which essentially melds the pieces of rubber together using extreme heat. To be more specific, vulcanization is the process in with discarded rubber is heated with sulfur to meld the pieces of rubber together to form one large solid piece of rubber. Since it is made from the same material as recycled rubber, reclaimed rubber flooring is just as durable and all-weather as recycled rubber flooring is, if not more all-weather. Due to its production process, reclaimed rubber is slightly more moisture-resistant. Reclaimed rubber is a smooth and solid piece of rubber while recycled rubber is slightly porous.
1(c). Hybrid Reclaimed Rubber / Virgin Rubber Products
These two rubber materials are almost the exact opposites of each other. Hybrid reclaimed rubber, also known as, thermoplastic rubber, is a type of rubber material that combines rubber and plastic compounds allowing thermoplastic rubber to have properties of both rubber and plastic. This makes rubberized flooring made of hybrid reclaimed rubber resistant to extreme high and low temperatures and is more resistant to chemicals and grease/oil. On the other hand, virgin, or natural, rubber is naturally harvested from the Hevea brasiliensis tree (rubber tree). Natural rubber is harvested from these trees through a method called “tapping.” Tapping is the process of cutting the tree at an angle to collect its sap which is a latex material. This latex material is then kept warm (to prevent from hardening) until it can be vulcanized “to improve resistance and elasticity and to prevent it from perishing” (wikipedia.org). Rubberized flooring made of natural rubber is resistant to most organic materials; however, it cannot stand extreme hot or cold temperatures, most chemicals or grease/oil.
1(d). Nitrile and EPDM Rubber
Nitrile and EPDM rubber are man-made elastomers that originates from petroleum. This group of rubber material that is produced from petroleum is categorized as “synthetic rubber.” You can expect to find Nitrile, or Buna-N, mixed with recycled rubber to create grease and oil resistant rubber floors. This resilient flooring can be used in a variety of spaces that can come into contact with grease or oil. Rubber’s natural moisture-resistant properties are still present in Nitrile rubber flooring along with the added benefits of synthetic materials. Another great example of synthetic rubber is EPDM rubber. Also known as, Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, EPDM rubber is highly resistant to the effects of the natural elements, extreme high and low temperatures, ozone and the harsh UV rays of the sun. You can expect to find EPDM rubber mixed with recycled rubber to enhance their outdoor life and durability. EPDM rubber is extremely durable and is the ideal material in making resilient flooring.
Comfort Qualities of Rubber Flooring
Being an elastomer, rubber is able to bend to the weight of whatever or whoever is on its surface. Several durometer hardness options are available; however, all rubber has natural elasticity making the choice boil down to just the matter of personal preference and the purpose they are being used for. Installing home rubber flooring can prove to be an investment worth making. Rubberized flooring absorbs the force of impact which allows pressure to be taken off joints, feet and lower back. Households with children can benefit greatly with the addition of home rubber flooring. The rubber surfacing provides traction and grip for when children are playing and the elasticity of the rubberized flooring will absorb the force of impact protecting children from serious injuries when they fall. Rubber flooring is also ideal for anti-fatigue purposes for employees who are required to walk or stand for long periods of time. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Prolonged standing at work has been shown to be associated with a number of potentially serious health outcomes, such as lower back and leg pain cardiovascular problems, fatigue, discomfort, and pregnancy related health outcomes…Suggested interventions include the use of floor mats, sit-stand work stations/chairs, shoes, shoe inserts and hosiery or stockings” (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). a convenient aspect of rubberized flooring is that they can come in various forms to fit a needed space. Larger areas will benefit from rubber tile flooring since the size is customizable just by adding or removing tiles.
How Rubber Flooring Can Protect Your Floors
People who purchase home rubber flooring often do it to protect their floors. Not only can rubber surfacing prevent slip and fall accidents they can also provide ample cushion to protect the sub-flooring underneath. Rubber flooring can be as thin as 1/8-inch or as thick as 1-2 inches. This gives the rubber material enough cushion so that no damage can be done to your floors. Rubber is resilient to damaging forces and is abrasion resistant and rubber tile flooring is an option for those who want a more mobile flooring option. For those with home exercise equipment, rubber will distribute the vibrations and movements emitted evenly across the rubber surfacing to further prevent damage making this the ideal flooring option for home gyms. The addition of rubber floors will prove to be the best resilient flooring option on the market that will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repairing expensive floors.
There are many different options of resilient flooring available on the market but none of them holds a candle to the resilience and safety benefits of rubber floors. Rubberize flooring is often used for protective purposes whether it be for the people walking across the surface or for the sub-flooring underneath. Variations of the rubber material these floors are made of provide added benefits to the versatility of rubber flooring making them ideal for any surface in any environment. Home rubber flooring is highly recommended over traditional flooring options for the safety of children and others travelling across the floor. Rubber tile flooring gives the option of customizable sizing simply by adding or removing tiles to fit a desired space. Overall, no matter what material of rubber you choose for your flooring, rubberized flooring is the most recommended flooring option for keeping people and floors safe and away from harm.