Puzzle vs. Snap Together Interlocking Floor Tiles
Comparing the two most popular forms of interlocking tiles
By Kim Butler
Anytime you start a home improvement project or upgrade a surface or fixture in your home, the array of choices can be daunting. Sometimes I have restricted my choices to what is available at one particular store just to keep myself sane. The same amount of choice applies to home flooring options. If you are considering a DIY floor tile, you may be ''puzzled'' as to whether you want an interlocking tile or a snap together tile. Both have their pros and cons.
As a general rule of thumb, interlocking tiles are lightweight, and the interlocks make it fast and easy to take up and take down the tiles if you need to move them. If you want something portable, interlocking tiles are a good bet. However, many interlocking tiles are made of foam, whether solid EVA foam, carpet-covered foam, or vinyl covered foam and these tiles won't stand up as well to heavy furniture, moving chairs, and lots of foot traffic from high heels, etc. Rubber interlocking tiles are available, which can support heavy weight machines, dropping weights, etc., but rubber is durable in part because it is heavy, which makes it less portable.
Puzzle-Style Interlocking Tiles
The classic puzzle style interlocking tile is a foam tile. Specialty flooring retailer Greatmats carries a range of colors and weights. Their most popular foam tile, the 5/8th inch Premium Foam Mat comes in 15 colors. Other budget options in black and thinner weights are also available.
Other weights and textures of foam mats are also available, which are more suitable for martial arts, grappling, dog agility and aerobics.
Another option is a wood grain foam tile, available in dark wood, light wood or cork surface designs. These faux wood tiles are waterproof, yet will give your tradeshow or basement a warm, inviting look.
Carpet tiles are another choice, with all the benefits of foam tiles plus a finished, professional look to your basement or trade show. The tiles can be easily vacummed, and like all interlocking tiles, if one gets damaged, you can easily replace it. The same holds true if just a few tiles get dirty. Take them up and hose them down, dry and replace.
Some puzzle style plastic tiles include HiddenLock PVC Slate look tiles, which feature a slate-like texture in several earth tones. In this case the puzzle style interlock is hidden beneath the finished surface. For a more modern or industrial look, choose HiddenLock coin top tiles in gray or Diamond Plate floor tiles in 8 colors.
Snap Together Tiles
If you want something more durable, snap together tiles are a great option. While many tiles are designed so that the connectors will hold up from repeated installations, some tiles are best left in one spot once they are installed. Another benefit of many snap together tiles is that they often have space underneath for air and water to flow, making them great for basements or other wet or damp areas.
Greatmats also carries a wide variety of snap together tiles, which make an easy and satisfying DIY project. These tiles are also able to be cut with a sharp utility knife, and, as always, remember to measure twice and cut once. Many snap together tiles can handle heavy loads are are great for damp or wet areas. They are a wonderful option for dance floors, athletic courts, garages and industrial areas.
In areas with possible moisture, go with one of the StayLock tiles. Available in bump top, orange peel top and perforated surfaces, black colored versions of these long lasting tiles are made with 100% recycled material and they work great for home gyms, industrial areas and exercise studios. The tile is slightly raised off the floor to allow for water and air to flow under the tile. For wet areas, StayLock perforated tiles work best, which is great around pools and hot tubs. Like all StayLock tiles, these are durable and comfortable.
For garages, Greatmats recommends the Diamond or Coin Garage Floor tile which can withstand well over 10,000 pounds of weight. Available in 6 colors, you can create patterns and checkerboard designs, and your garage will be the envy of the neighborhood. The no-break polypropylene plastic tiles can be cut with a basic saw or table saw.
A good place to start your search for the perfect tile for your project is at Greatmats. They carry one of the widest selections of interlocking and snap together tiles, and their knowledgeable staff can assist you in choosing the flooring material that best meets your unique needs.
For more on this topic please review our Modular Flooring & Tiles product page.