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Surfaces for Installing Rolled Rubber Flooring

Discover When and How Rubber Flooring Should Be Installed

By Kif Richmann

Are you considering rolled rubber floors for your home, office, or commercial facility? Before you spend your hard-earned cash on rubber flooring, make sure the product you choose is right for your space.

At Greatmats, we want you to be fully informed on the uses and advantages of each flooring type so you can make a confident, accurate decision. With that in mind, let's look closely at rubber flooring to see if your space would be enhanced by this surface material.

What are the Best Conditions for Rubber Flooring?

Rubber flooring rolls can be laid in many different areas, but in general you'll find that flat, dry, indoor spaces are best for rubber floors. Rubber is flexible and bendable, yet can be stiffer than other products, so if you have uneven spaces, cracks, or gaps, it can create bulges and ridges on the flooring.

Rubber mats and rolls also work best a dry area, specifically underneath. While they do not absorb water, moisture underneath can create mold and mildew growth, which means perforated tile are better for wet areas.

Flat, dry and hard; those are generally the best conditions for your rubber flooring.

When Should Subflooring Be Used for a Rubber Floor?

One of the most important questions we get about rubber flooring revolves around subflooring. For good reason, our customers want to know when they need to use subflooring, and if so, which type they should use.

One of the reasons to use subflooring is to protect the surface underneath. For example, if you are laying rubber floors over ceramic tile, you need a subflooring to keep the tiles from cracking or breaking. In many cases, a protective, cushioning surface is preferred when laying rubber over ceramic tile.

Likewise, if you are laying over hardwood, you should also have a subflooring. In this case, however, we recommend a layer of craft paper. Why paper? Because the black coloring or rubber mats and rolls can seep into hardwood, staining the material. A layer of paper will keep the hardwood protected from staining so you have a gorgeous surface if you decide to remove the rubber.

You may also need a subflooring if you are installing the rubber floors over a concrete slab that contains moisture or has moisture underneath. In this case, the layer is to keep water from becoming trapped beneath the floor

In all cases, it's important to talk with our staff to see if subflooring is needed.

When Should it Be Avoided?

Rubber flooring is very versatile and reliable, but there are some areas where you should avoid using it. In almost all cases, you will want a flat, even surface. Rubber can contour to ridges and inconsistencies, but this is not ideal for permanent placement, as it will result in bulges and wrinkles.

Another time to avoid rubber flooring is when the surface has significant gaps. For example, decking, which has gaps between the deck boards, is not a good location for rubber flooring, as you will have ridges and seams in the floor. Similarly, tile floors with deep grout gaps is also not the best for rubber flooring.

Installing Rubber Floor Over Different Surfaces

Flat Concrete

Of all the potential surfaces for installing rubber, a flat concrete surface is probably the most ideal. Flat concrete is great for rubber floors, providing a consistent, flat, long-lasting foundation for the rubber, which creates great long-term quality. Rubber flooring requires a solid, level surface, and concrete is nearly perfect for this need. However, you want to make sure that there is not a high level of moisture within or underneath the concrete, as this can seep upward, become trapped between the concrete and rubber, and cause mold problems. If there is moisture, a full-spread adhesive, which will act as a water-proofing measure, is recommended.

Indoors, rubber is an excellent product, even for damp areas like jacuzzi or indoor pool decks. However, there are better options for outdoor pools and hot tubs.

While rubber flooring is perfect for flat concrete slabs, it must be glued down if you are installing it over concrete steps. When placed over steps, it can shift and move underneath your foot, creating a potentially dangerous safety hazard. Therefore, it's better to use an adhesive to keep the rubber flooring in place.

Ceramic Tile

Another surface that is good for rubber flooring is ceramic tile, but because of the fragile nature of these materials, it may be necessary to include some sort of protection and subflooring. Even the best ceramic tiles can be brittle when used for heavy foot traffic or if weights are dropped, so it's possible to damage the tile if you only use a rubber flooring - especially a thinner version.

If you install rubber floors over ceramic tile, you may notice some follow through. You could also see grout lines through the rubber flooring, especially if the grout is significantly deep in between the tiles.

Despite the challenges, ceramic tile remains a popular choice for flooring surfaces. It may require a subflooring or padding to protect the tiles or prevent lines or creases, but our helpful staff can work with you to select the right flooring and accessories to make your floor look fantastic, all while protecting the ceramic tile underneath.

Flat Hardwood

Hardwood is one of the most gorgeous, elegant, and attractive surfaces you can have in your home or office. However, if you need to cover hardwood, rubber flooring is actually a great choice. But there is a condition: rubber floors over hardwood require a protective paper underlayment, especially for high-quality hardwood.

For all rubber flooring products, we recommend a craft paper underlayment. This underlayment performs one important task: it keeps the black coloring of the rubber from staining the hardwood. With the paper underlayment, there is no transfer of color, so if and when you decide to lift the rubber flooring, you still have an elegant, warm wood surface.

While rubber flooring is ideal for indoor hardwood floors, it is not the best option for covering outdoor wood decks. To get the best results for a wood deck, modular perforated tile is a superior option, as it allows rainwater to drain underneath, as it would between the gaps in decking.

Rubber is also not ideal as a temporary protective surface for large gym floors due to its weight. In this case, we recommend a protective vinyl sheet. We offer 10-ounce to 27-ounce weight sheet vinyl that is designed specifically for large gym floorings. This product is usually the best option for basketball, volleyball, and racquetball courts, as well as school or community-center gyms.


We do not recommend using rubber mats or rolls over carpet. When you place rubber rolls over carpeting, the material will bunch up, creating tripping hazards and giving the surface an inconsistent, ugly appearance. Rubber can also cause damage to carpet, creating more problems for your flooring.

So if rubber flooring should not be used for carpet, what is a better option? In most cases, we recommend a raised interlocking tile that gives good grip between the carpet and the surface material. With interlocking tiles, especially ones that are made from harder plastics, there is less chance of bunching and other issues. We also have 9/16-inch thick PVC tiles that is are excellent options for use over carpet.

Outdoor Surfaces (Grass, Dirt, Rock, Etc.)

Using rubber rolls over ''natural'' outdoor surfaces, such as grass, rock, and dirt is not recommended. Because rubber rolls are not perforated, they will keep water on top, so if it rains on a rubber roll, the water will stay put, unless of course, there is a slope that allows for drainage. Essentially you'll have water pooling and puddling on top, which can be a nuisance.

You could conceivably use a rubber flooring on grass, rock, or dirt an individual roll as a runner. However, this is still not the best option.

If you need outdoor rubber flooring, we have many options that provide the traction and support you are looking for in tile or paver forms. If you're simply looking for a decorative touch, one of the best options is the Flexstone Rubber Paver Tiles, which are great for walkways, gardens and landscaping features.


We often get questions about rooftop flooring surfaces. Many people want to turn their outdoor rooftop into a usable space. Assuming the structure has enough strength and integrity for foot traffic, there are a few options, but rubber flooring rolls are not generally not recommended.

One of the main issues of using rubber flooring over rooftops, especially concrete rooftop surfaces, is mold. Mold is most often found in damp areas where water has been trapped. When you lay down rubber mats or rolls over a concrete surface, you create the perfect location for mold. Laying a flat rubber product over a membrane is likely to cause mold, which is why we do not recommend rolled rubber flooring for rooftop surfaces.

Like most outdoor areas, it's best to have a perforated top or other method for drainage, which allows water to move underneath, provides conditions for evaporation, and results in less chance for mold.

If you're set on a rubber surface for your rooftop patio, 2 inch thick Sterling Roof Top Tiles are your best option as they feature a raised base. However, proper drainage precautions should be taken in the sub-surface as these rubber tiles are porous in nature.

Find the Perfect Flooring for Any Surface

Do you have a unique surface that you need to cover? Please contact our friendly staff and we'll reach out to you with more information about all our fine products. We have the knowledge and experience to provide accurate advice on your specific flooring needs, so contact us today!

From flat concrete in the basement to outdoor decks and patio surfaces, we have everything you need for all your specialty flooring.
For more on this topic please review our Rubber Flooring Rolls product page.