I recently picked up a couple of stall mats from Northern Tool for my garage gym.
I’ve been a sports performance coach for 20 years in collegiate athletics so I’ve seen (and installed) my fair share of gym flooring. I also currently use stall mats from Tractor Supply Company for the majority of my gym floor.
With all that being said, how do I like my new Northern Tool floor mats?
Well, spoiler alert, they’re my new favorite type of garage gym flooring. Let me tell you why.
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Table of Contents
What I Liked
Let’s focus first on what I liked about these mats from Northern Tool.
Also, just an FYI, you’re going to notice a lot of comparisons against Tractor Supply Company Mats. It’s hard not to considering they are, in my opinion, the closest comparable option and it just so happens to be the other gym flooring I have in my garage.
First and foremost, gym flooring needs to be thick and it needs to be durable.
If you’re going to be dropping weights – whether it’s a barbell full of bumper plates after a set of power cleans or a pair of dumbbells after a set of dumbbell bench – you have to make sure that your garage floor is protected.
And, thick gym flooring is not just to protect your floor, it also protects the equipment (none of which is cheap) from the hard concrete floor underneath it.
These Northern Tool Mats check the box. They’re 3/4″ thick and are heavy-duty mats that are built to be able to withstand almost anything you can throw at it.
One Side of Mat is Completely Flat
These Mats have a dual surface. One side of the Mat has ‘buttons’. This side of the Mat is great for creating a bit of airflow under the Mat to fight against moisture building up.
The other side of the Mat is completely flat which I absolutely love.
My stall mats from TSC don’t have a flat side. One side has channels and the other has a diamond print. And while it’s hard to dispute that the diamond side looks cool, it can be a pain setting up for lifts with bumper plates settling in between the raised diamond print.
The flat surface (which also has a bit of speckle which looks good) makes the gym floor look much more like a gym floor. More importantly, it helps it function more as a gym floor should.
Mats Come in a Smaller Size
Most heavy-duty gym flooring mats are 4′ x 6′. Northern Tool Mat is 3′ x 4′.
First off, because they’re smaller they’re also naturally lighter.
3/4″ thick mats are really heavy and extremely awkward to pick up and move. You either have to try to roll them up and pick them or just drag them where you need them to go.
These Mats, however, I was able to pick up, carry and move with no issues at all.
Next, the smaller size makes them much more versatile when trying to cover your space. 4′ x 6′ mats are good for covering up a lot of ground quickly, but don’t do well fitting into tighter areas.
I bought these mats to fill in the space all the way by my garage door so I can slide my treadmill into that space. If these mats were bigger I would have had to cut them. And if you’ve ever had to cut stall mats before, you know they are an absolute bear to cut.
What I Didn’t Like
Even though these are now my favorite mats for garage gym flooring, they’re not perfect. They do have a couple of issues.
If you’ve ever bought horse stall mats, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
If you haven’t, you need to understand that these mats are going to smell dreadful. Long story short, they’re made from recycled rubber and because they’re stacked tightly together after they’re made they don’t have a chance to air out.
You’ll most likely want to give them some time outside (preferably in the sun) to air out before permanently placing them in your garage. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
I will say the Northern Tool Mats I got were not nearly as bad as my TSC Mats. After 24 hours outside I was able to bring them into the garage.
But, if you’ve never dealt with recycled rubber mats before – prepare yourself.
They Cost a Little More
One of the main reasons that mats from TSC are so appealing is the price.
The Northern Tool Mats are a little bit more expensive (unless you catch them on sale like I did), but even if I had to pay a little more going forward, I would.
I like the look better, the versatility better and I like the fact that if I ever need to move these mats I’ll be able to do it myself with no problem.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for gym flooring for your garage gym, I highly recommend these mats.
To get more info and/or to purchase some mats for yourself, you can find them on Northern Tool website here.