When it comes to durability, it’s tough to top rubber flooring. Once relegated to commercial applications, this style of flooring is becoming an increasingly popular choice for homeowners. Rubber flooring is a particularly smart option for areas that need ultra-tough floors, such as garages, personal gyms, playrooms, and utility rooms.
Rubber is resilient, despite its soft feel underfoot. It absorbs shock and sound and is water-resistant. It’s also incredibly easy to maintain. Basic styles usually used for home exercise rooms and other utilitarian purposes are also affordable.
Some homeowners hope to save even more by installing their own rubber flooring. However, the process isn’t as simple as you might think. In fact, rubber floors are more difficult to install than many other types of flooring. Are you up to the challenge? If so, here’s what you need to know about DIY rubber flooring installation before you start the project.
Do You Have the Right Style and Color for Your Project?
Picking out the right rubber flooring for your home will likely take much longer than it does to actually install. That’s because there are so many styles and colors available today. As rubber flooring has become more popular, the available inventory has exploded. Today, you can find rubber flooring in a wide variety of patterns, textures, and finishes.
First, you’ll want to decide whether you’d like to install rubber tiles or rubber sheet rolls. Rubber tiles are easier to install, but the seams can sometimes lead to issues with moisture getting under the flooring. Rubber sheet rolls, on the other hand, are more difficult to install, especially since small mistakes can ruin a large piece of material. However, rubber sheets provide a more seamless look for your floors and have fewer issues with moisture.
The softness of your rubber floors also depends on the style you select. Thicker rubber will feel softer underfoot. Some rubber flooring comes with built-in backing made of cork, foam, fabric, or another material that adds extra cushioning and support.
Finally, it’s time to decide what you want your floors to look like. Manufacturers can print just about any color or pattern onto rubber flooring, so the style options are practically endless. Some rubber floors have a texture, which adds dimension and makes the surface less slippery. For a shinier appearance or for added durability and stain-resistance, choose rubber flooring that has also been finished with a water-soluble wax emulsion.
Do You Know How to Prep the Subfloor?
Unfortunately, you can’t just start laying down your rubber flooring as soon as you get it. Before you can proceed with the installation, you need to prep the subfloor that will sit underneath your rubber flooring.
You need a hard surface, so remove carpeting or other soft flooring. Make sure the subfloor is completely level; if there are low spots, you can use self-leveling concrete to even it out. Remove any protruding staples or old mortar, and make sure screws and nails are inserted completely to provide a flat surface. Finally, vacuum the subfloor to make sure it’s clean before the installation begins.
Do You Know How to Install the Rubber?
Now that the subfloor is ready to go, you can start your DIY rubber flooring installation. If you’re using rubber sheet rolls, ask the seller whether he or she will precut the rolls to the size of your room to save some time and energy on the project and to assist in an error-free installation. If you can’t have the rolls precut, use a T-square and knife to trim the roll end to the proper length.
Next, you’ll roll out the sheet and make any trims as necessary. There should be a couple inches to spare at each wall that you’ll trim down later. Don’t forget to cut holes for floor vents or outlets. Once the sheets are cut properly, pull them up and apply the glue or tape per the manufacturer’s instructions. Lay the rubber flooring back down over the adhesive, carefully smoothing it out to remove any bumps or creases. Trim off any extra material at the edges of the space. Use a flooring roller over the entire surface to ensure good adhesion.
If you’re using rubber flooring tiles rather than sheet rolls, its process is a bit simpler. Start by installing the tiles flush against the most visible side of the room, working across toward the less visible side. Some tiles are designed to interlock, while those with straight edges will need to be connected with plastic pins. Once you reach the other side, trim the tiles as necessary for an accurate fit.
Do You Have the Correct Tools and Materials?
While you can save money with a DIY rubber floor installation, you’ll still need to shell out for the necessary tools and materials. There aren’t many supplies required beyond basic items that many homeowners already own. However, these costs should still be considered when weighing the pros and cons of hiring professionals. If you decide to go with a DIY project, here’s what you’ll need:
- Flooring roller
- Utility knife
- Cleaning supplies (broom, vacuum, mop, etc.)
- Duct tape
The flooring roller is one item that most homeowners probably don’t have. To keep costs down, consider renting a flooring roller instead of buying one for the project.
If you’re a handy homeowner who has tackled many DIY projects in your day, you may feel very comfortable taking on your own rubber flooring installation. With some helping hands, plenty of patience, and a knack for extreme accuracy, you can likely get the job done without having to pay for professionals to do it for you.
However, keep in mind that rubber flooring is generally not recommended for DIY installation. Rubber sheet rolls are particularly difficult to install successfully, so it may be in your best interest to hire pros for this type of flooring installation. Rubber tiles are a bit easier to install, but you’ll be sacrificing the seamless look of sheet rolls if you go this route.
Overall, rubber flooring installation is usually best left to the pros. If you prefer a do-it-yourself project, consider choosing rubber tiles over sheet rolls.