Commercial and Residential Rubber Flooring
A rubber floor is not as popular of a flooring option as hardwood, laminate or ceramic tiles are; however, it can prove to be the best flooring option in price, safety and versatility. Unlike other flooring options, rubber floors are the most durable and synthetic flooring options are also available for added strength and other added benefits. This resilient flooring also come in a wide variety of forms ranging from interlocking rubber floor tiles to custom cut rubber rolls. With its simple installation and easily customizable styles, rubber flooring is the ideal flooring option for both commercial and residential settings.
Is Rubber Flooring Expensive?
Rubber flooring is extremely cost-effective since most rubber floors are made from recycled or reclaimed rubber or a combination of either with another synthetic elastomer. They are cost-effective since they are made of old or discarded vehicle tire rubber instead of creating brand new rubber material. The easy Do-it-yourself installation also cuts the cost of having to pay an installer to come apply your rubber floor for you. Although vinyl is technically the least expensive flooring option available, it may actually cost you more money in the long run since it is not as durable as rubber. Vinyl also will not last as long as rubber will. Rubber is durable enough to last years, even when they are exposed to the outdoor elements which cuts costs of frequent replacements. This resilient flooring option can also save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repairing expensive flooring such as hardwood or ceramic tile by offering a protective barrier between the surface of the floor and damaging forces and environments.
Is Rubber Flooring Safe?
A rubber floor is generally installed for two main reasons: injury prevention and floor protection. Rubber is naturally a thicker, more durable material compared to most other flooring options such as laminate or vinyl. In case of a tumble, the thick rubber material of this resilient flooring will provide ample cushioning to absorb the force of impact and protect you and your loved ones from serious injury. This cushioning is also ideal for joint and lower back protection in home or commercial gyms. Rubber also has natural traction creating abilities that offers optimum grip with each step to help prevent slip and fall accidents. These added qualities make a rubber floor the ideal flooring option for areas that come into contact with moisture such as kitchens and around swimming pools. Rubber flooring is the ideal flooring option to keep you, your loved ones and your floors safe and away from injury and damage.
1. What Are the Qualities of Rubber and Its Variations?
As mentioned earlier, a rubber floor can protect the subflooring beneath as well as the people traversing on top of it. Naturally, rubber has a high coefficient of friction which allows it to keep its traction even when coming into contact with moisture. Additionally, as an elastomer, rubber is able to absorb the force of impact and evenly distribute vibrations across the surface of the rubber floor. This prevents vibrations from focusing on a single point and causing damage to the subflooring beneath. Depending on the variation of rubber material used to make a rubber floor, it can offer added strength and abrasion resistance as well as resistance to other degrading conditions and materials/liquids. Also, since rubber is naturally moisture resistant, this resilient flooring prevents organic byproducts, such as mold and mildew, from forming and causing health problems.
1(a). Recycled and Reclaimed Rubber
Both recycled and reclaimed rubber are made up of old or unused vehicle tire rubber. Therefore, the strength, durability and all other characteristics you would expect vehicle tires to have can be seen in recycled and reclaimed rubber products. Recycled rubber is manufactured using crumb rubber. These finely ground pieces of rubber are then mixed in with a binder to create a larger sheet of rubber. This process, however, does leave recycled rubber with a slightly porous finish but, it offers excellent abrasion resistance. Reclaimed rubber, on the other hand, goes through a completely different production process called vulcanization. Vulcanization is the process of heating scrap rubber together with sulfur to meld them together to form a larger, more solid sheet of rubber. This process allows reclaimed rubber to be slightly more moisture resistant than recycled rubber due to its more solid finish. Both recycled and reclaimed rubber have excellent outdoor life and are the perfect materials for an outdoor rubber floor.
1(b). Thermoplastic Rubber
Thermoplastic rubber is generally stronger and more durable than natural rubber making it the ideal material for synthetic flooring. Most people tend to purchase synthetic flooring for area that see more-than-usual wear and tear or exposure to greases or chemicals. According to the British Plastics Federation, thermoplastic rubber is “a polymer blend or compound which, above its melt temperature, exhibits a thermoplastic character that enables it to be shaped into a fabricated article and which, within its design temperature range, possesses elastomeric behavior…” (bfk.co.uk). Thermoplastic rubber offers resistance to higher temperatures and allows it to be used in industrial work places with higher-than-normal temperatures. Other characteristics of this synthetic flooring option includes: tear and abrasion resistance, high impact strength and excellent resistance to (mild) chemicals and weathering (bpf.co.uk). Due to thermoplastic rubber’s added strength and mild chemical resistance, it will serve well in industrial warehouses where the rubber floor may come into contact with some chemicals and heavy objects.
2. What Types of Rubber Flooring are Available?
With varying spaces and surface applications, there are various types of rubber floors available that are best suited for your needs. Not only will space determine what type of flooring to purchase, you also need to take into consideration the environment they will be in. Residential and commercial areas will receive varying levels of foot traffic and the flooring in each area will experience different levels of wear and tear as well. For residential areas, you may consider getting an easily customizable and mobile flooring option in case spaces change or you need to move the protective flooring to a different area. For commercial areas, a larger, more permanent flooring option is probably the best fit since commercial areas will experience far more foot traffic than residential areas.
2(a). Interlocking Rubber Floor Tiles
Interlocking rubber floor tiles are one of the most convenient flooring options available for a rubber floor. Its interlocking mechanism allows for a simple and easy installation process that offers easy customization. To install, simply connect the rubber floor tiles together by their puzzle-like edges and keep adding on tiles until you have reached your desired flooring size. And you are done! Other variations of interlocking tiles are available with plastic connector pins to connect the tiles together and keep them in place. In addition, these tiles are meant to move as you move giving this type of rubber floor longer life. Customizable rubber floor tiles are the ideal flooring choice for those looking for a mobile rubber floor.
2(b). Made to Size Mats
Pre-cut mats that are made to size are usually designed with a specific purpose in mind. This rubber floor option is made for smaller areas or usually for a single person’s use. Made to size mats are available in both recycled/reclaimed or thermoplastic rubbers and in varying sizes in each material. Recycled and reclaimed rubber pre-cut mats are available in a common width of either 4 feet and in six different lengths: 6 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet, 25 feet and 50 feet. Made to size mats made of recycled and reclaimed rubber are ideal for work stations such as cashier work areas, security booths and other standing work stations. Thermoplastic rubber pre-cut mats are available in a common width of 3 feet and in six different lengths as well: 4 feet, 5 feet, 6 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet and 25 feet. This resilient flooring option is ideal for a chef’s work station and industrial work stations where the mats may come into contact with grease and oils or heavy objects.
2(c). Rubber Flooring Rolls
Rubber floors comprised of custom cut flooring rolls are ideal for large areas of space with specific measurements. These rubber flooring rolls can be cut into custom lengths up to 50 consecutive feet. Generally, these rolls are purchased for larger spaces that need to be covered so, this type of rubber floor is not meant to be moved around. These involve a more permanent installation method than interlocking rubber floor tiles and are ideally used in commercial gyms or used as industrial flooring. The installation process is simple and easy; simply take double-sided tape or glue to adhere your flooring rolls to any surface.
How is Rubber Flooring Typically Installed?
There are typically two main methods of adhering a rubber floor to a surface: double-side tape and glue. Each of these installation methods are best for different conditions and environments. Double-sided tape is recommended to be used only indoors as outdoor weather conditions may deteriorate the tape. Additionally, it should only be placed along the perimeter of the mats. Double-side tape installation offers a more temporary application that makes for easy removal or replacement in case of any damage. Glue, however, is not as highly recommended as double-sided tape is for rubber floor installation. Glue is recommended to be used only if the floors will experience heavy-foot traffic or if they are located outside where they are exposed to changing weather conditions. Due to the permanence of its application, glue is not frequently recommended as it is harder to remove for replacements. Loose laying your rubber floors is also another option of installation; however, it is generally only for interlocking tiles since they are meant to be mobile. This method is not usually used since most people are looking for a more stable flooring option.
How to Maintain Rubber Floors
Since rubber floors are moisture resistant, cleaning and maintaining them is a quick and simple process. For stuck on messes, you may use a damp rag to wipe off messes or, if your rubber floor is located outdoors, you may use a hose to spray it off. Dry messes are a bit easier to clean up. Simply take a dry broom or polyester mop to sweep off any loose dirt or debris. For natural, recycled or reclaimed rubber floors, chemical cleaners should not be used to protect the integrity of the rubber material; however, synthetic flooring, such as thermoplastic floors, can be cleaned using mild household chemical cleaners.
Whether for commercial or residential flooring, a rubber floor is durable and versatile enough to be used in almost any setting or condition. Also available in various materials, a synthetic flooring option is available for areas that may experience chemical/grease exposure or more-than-usual wear and tear. Rubber flooring can also save you money in the long run. Due to its long life and protective qualities, the same flooring will last years and can save you money in repairing expensive flooring options such as hardwood. With its variety of customizable flooring options including interlocking tiles and custom cut rolls, rubber floors are, without a doubt, the safest and most cost-effective flooring option available on the market.