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Rubber Flooring Cost
Premium rubber flooring can be quite expensive. Tiles suitable for exercise rooms may cost less than $2 per square foot, but the types that are attractive enough for living areas can run up to $12 to $15 per square foot, comparable to some natural stone and other high-end flooring products. On average, you can expect to pay $3 to $8 per square foot for decent rubber flooring.
Maintenance and Repair
Rubber flooring is very easy to care for. Cleaning rubber flooring generally requires no more than a damp mop (never wet). If you use a cleaning product, check it out with the manufacturer first, as harsh detergents can damage some flooring. Synthetic rubber flooring is generally more stain-resistant than natural rubber. Some types can be polished with a water-soluble wax to make it more resistant to damage and discoloration, but wax must be stripped and reapplied periodically, creating its own maintenance needs.
While rubber flooring is resistant to most staining agents, there are a few materials that can discolor its surface. Strong detergents and abrasive cleaning liquids can be especially harmful to rubber floors. Rubber flooring can also be stained by grease and oil—a drawback that should give any serious home chefs pause before using it in their kitchens.
The look of rubber flooring can be either an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your decorating goals. For many years, rubber flooring style options largely stopped at polished black or slate gray, but today you can choose from a wide variety of colors and textures, including coin, leaf, and diamond-plate textures. Some types even mimic wood flooring or ceramic tile. Despite advancements, rubber flooring still doesn't offer as many colors and design options as vinyl or linoleum, and the "wood-look" materials are nothing like the real thing.
Rubber Flooring Installation
Rubber tiles are among the easiest flooring materials to install. Some tile products use interlocking edges, while others use a system of edge pins that hold the tiles together. Tiles are easily cut with a sharp knife. There are also glue-down forms of rubber tiles available, though these are less common for DIYers since they are more complicated to install.
Most rubber flooring is highly resistant to damage from moisture on both the top and bottom surfaces of the material. However; if you are installing it below grade, such as in a basement, you may need to include a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from seeping up from underneath. Some rubber floor tiles also come specially treated to make them suitable for wet environments.
Rubber flooring tiles may themselves be water-resistant, but the installed flooring is loaded with seams that can let water through to the subfloor below. This is true for any type of resilient flooring tile—it simply can't be reliably sealed against moisture penetration. Therefore, it's not a great option for very wet areas, such as bathrooms with showers or tubs, or at least the immediate area around the shower or tub. If you want to use rubber flooring in these areas, sheet products are a better choice.
While rubber is fairly resistant to catching fire, synthetic rubber materials, when they do catch fire after being exposed to sufficient heat, may produce toxic gases.
To guard against this, choose products that do not contain PVC materials. If the flooring was glued down, the adhesives may also be susceptible to fire.
Top Brands of Rubber Flooring Tiles
Most of the manufacturers of rubber tiles for residential use began as companies who made protective floor mats for businesses and industries, used to protect workers from leg and back strain. These companies now offer a variety of products, including both sheet rubber and rubber tiles suitable for residential use.
SOL RUBBER offers a good selection of utilitarian interlocking tiles suitable for use in exercise rooms, entryways, and other such spaces. Their products are available from many sources, including online retailers.