Ten Advantages and Four Disadvantages of Recycled Rubber Flooring

by Nicola Temple on October 14, 2011

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly flooring solution in a high-traffic area, I suggest you read on to learn about the pros and cons of recycled rubber flooring.

Recycled rubber flooring is made from post-consumer tire rubber combined with a synthetic rubber (EPDM). EPDM is produced in a range of colours that are mixed in different proportions to create the floor color.

All recycled rubber floors are speckled as they are created from tire crumbs, but depending on the color scheme this can give it quite a natural marbled look at a distance.

Recycled rubber floors have become popular in fitness gyms, gymnastics studios, and a number of commercial venues. They are even being used for home gyms and basements, as well as kitchens and bathrooms and this is why:

recycled rubber flooring

Recycled rubber flooring gives new life to old used tires. CC image courtesy of Joost J. Bakker on Flickr.

Advantages of recycled rubber flooring

  • Rubber is a great insulator, and it is particularly well known for absorbing noise.
  • It not only absorbs noise, but impact too, which is why they are frequently used in gymnastics studios and fitness gyms.
  • Rubber is the most slip resistant floor available.
  • Recycled rubber flooring resists water; it’s not going to swell with excessive water contact like a hardwood or bamboo floor.
  • It is durable and easily maintained, requiring no harsh chemicals for cleaning.
  • Recycled rubber floors provide new life to an otherwise landfill-bound product – old tires. One 36” tire can be converted into 20 square feet of flooring. ECORE is a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of recycled rubber floors and they recycle over 80 million pounds of scrap tire rubber each year, keeping over 2,000 trailer loads of discarded tires out of landfills (source)!
  • Recycled rubber floors can be created in a range of colors and in some instances can be custom colored, making them very flexible for interior designs.
  • The flooring is available in tiles, which are seamless when completed, or in rolls.
  • The floor can be installed without adhesive, making it an even more environmentally friendly option.
  • Recycled rubber flooring is 100% recyclable, particularly if no adhesive has been used in installation.

Disadvantages of recycled rubber flooring

  • Plain colors of recycled rubber flooring mark easily.
  • The speckled look of the floor is not appealing to some.
  • There is some off-gassing with rubber floors. Although chemicals released in the off-gassing meet all air quality standards, the smell can be somewhat offensive to some. For that reason, it is often recommended that recycled rubber floors not be used in rooms that are poorly ventilated.
  • There has been some debate as to the health risks of rubber crumbs as they are used in artificial turf in-fill, recycled rubber mulch, and in playground areas. Obviously recycled rubber flooring doesn’t usually have any interaction with the environment, so some of these issues are not relevant.

More on health issues A study conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 found that on average, concentrations of chemicals released from the recycled rubber were below levels of concern. However, they state quite clearly that the study was limited both in the number of chemicals it tested as well as the number of sites it tested. The state of California did a more thorough study relating to recycled rubber crumbs in playgrounds and found that in most cases, the risk to children was below acceptable levels of carcinogen exposure. One exception was exposure to PAH chrysene. They found that prolonged exposure (about 12 years of playing at playgrounds) resulted in an increased cancer risk of 2.9 in one million. However, they considered this to be perfectly acceptable when put into perspective of overall cancer rates.

The words recycled rubber flooring may bring to mind visions of incredibly industrial-looking, thick black mats. For example, something thrown down onto the garage floor when working under the car, or in the back of a pick-up truck to stop things sliding around. However, this is no longer the case. The industry has come a long way to producing a product that is not only eco-friendly, but also looks good in your home or business. Check out the video below to see how easily rubber tiles can be installed yourself.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: