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Mike R. writes: “Sams Club sells an interlocking mat product that works great as a cheap-ass shop floor.  They are black on the reverse side so you don’t have to deal with the obnoxious colors.  You get 33 square feet for just under $20, which works out to like .60 a square foot.  I’ve got it in a basement shop, kids play area and laundry room, and it’s held up great for 6 months of random kid and shoe abuse.  Since it’s a thick rubber foam, it’s alot more comforatable to stand an walk on than concrete.  The panels are easy to pull up and replace if you manage to screw one up.  It’s also very easy to cut with a utility knife, so installation was painless.”

“I doubt this would last long if you parked cars on it, but I plan on putting some in the shop area in my garage this spring.  I haven’t had this in a greasy or oily enviroment yet so I don’t know how well it will handle that kind of abuse.”

Kudos for fining such a cheap alternative.  Even though we’ve got an epoxy finish on the TM shop floor, I’m thinking about picking some of these up to lay down under and around our horizontal/vertical metal-cutting band saw.  We’re always dropping cut steel around there, and this looks like just the ticket to protect the floor.

Util-a-Mat Reversible Mat, 8-Pack [Sam’s Club]

 

29 Responses to Reader Find: Cheap-Ass Shop Flooring

  1. Paul says:

    I need to roll quite a few things in my shop so I don’t think this would work out too well for me. I have a big rubber mat for one work area.

  2. Tom says:

    what a killer idea. I have some carpet squares at my workbench but sawdust gets into them and is a pain to clean. This is much better.

  3. MikeR says:

    Paul: I’ve got a portable table saw and miter saw on a hand-truck thing and roll them around on this stuff all the time. The foam is quite stiff and will hold up to that type of weight fine.

  4. Paul says:

    MikeR Says:
    “Paul: I’ve got a portable table saw and miter saw on a hand-truck thing and roll them around on this stuff all the time. The foam is quite stiff and will hold up to that type of weight fine.”

    Oh yeah? Well how about a 1000#+ bench? How you think it’d hold up to that? On smooth concrete this bench takes a bit of pushing to get moving. It is an integral part of my present shop setup. I like it so much I may just stick with it in my detached dedicated workshop in the future.

    Beyond that I wonder how flammable this material is? I do like to weld. And what about metal chips? Would metal chips embed into this material?

  5. MikeR says:

    Yeah.

    No.

    Poorly.

    ?

    ?

    Yes.

  6. nrChris says:

    I have recently seen these at both Lowes and Home Depot. Good to hear a real world opinion–I have been thinking of covering the 8′ in front of my main work bench with these. I will go for the all black ones though–otherwise my kids will probably steal them for their playroom.

    While $0.60 / SF is cheap, I am concerned about the durability–that is not cheap if I have to replace them every year. Any thoughts on this?

  7. Chuck Cage says:

    Paul: Think about this a bit. I don’t think Mike’s suggesting that you should cover your whole shop in this. As I mentioned in the post itself, I think it’d be great for areas where you’d like a little bit of impact protection. FWIW, I don’t think there’s any flooring that’ll work for every part of a multi-purposed shop.

    For example, our epoxy works great for auto work and woodworking, but welding tends to mar it a bit. On the other hand, it doesnt’ mar it that badly, so we accept that part of the shop isn’t going to look perfect, and we do all our welding there. I’d like to use some of this padded flooring for around the band saw — where falling steel is likely to chip the floor — and maybe around my fixed-workbench where I spend a lot of time standing.

    Everyone:

    There are two comments that we know we’ll see on almost every post — but somehow always surprise us:

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    I understand that everyone’s looking to add to their comment count to increase chances of winning the combo kit. It’s natural. Hell, I wish I could win it. It’s a kick-ass combo kit, and we appreciate RIDGID’s generosity in offering it to a TM reader. But what we love most is how it encourages some of you to de-lurk and offer us (and all Toolmongers) great tips and information we can’t get anywhere else. It’s like hanging out at a friend’s shop 24/7, which we think is uber-cool.

    All we ask is that in your excitement to log another comment, you remember that you’re part of a community here. Tens of thousands of people a day come here looking to tap the collective wisdom that commenters share. Take a moment to add that extra something that’ll help others get the most out of their shop — and their community experience.

    Chuck

  8. Trevor D. says:

    We have these around two of the motorcycle lifts in our shop. They are “ok.” Gives a little padding, but the downside (to the tiles we have anyways) is static. These things will make sparks like a son of a bitch when you touch anything after working on them. Kinda spooky when you’re working around open gas ; )

  9. James says:

    If you’re attentive, you’ll find that this stuff is very popular in woodworking shops. I see it all the time in shop pictures in woodworking magazines, usually in front of workbenches and table saws.

    I’m definitely planning on picking some up when I finish my shop.

  10. MikeR says:

    nrChris:
    We’ve had these in a shop and a kids playroom/mudroom for about 6 months. They’ve seen mud, water, snow, bookshelves, tools, sawdust, etc. We recently built a 20×12 room in our basement and the only way to get to it was though a room with these tiles on the floor. So all the 2x4s, drywall, nails, screws, etc were all hauled in over this stuff. Alot of the work was done right on the mats. They show a reasonable amount of nicks and cuts from all the traffic, but I hadn’t noticed it until just now when I went down there for a closer look. The mats are thick enough that they arn’t going to “fail” from this kind of abuse, but in time they will look worn. I’d give them 2 years in a really high traffic area. Longer if they aren’t in a working environment.

    Also, the ones we’ve got are colored on one side, black on the other. One of the advantages of this is if you’ve got some color side up in one room and some black side up in another when one side wears out you can swap them out between rooms.

  11. Michael B says:

    They have a similar set at Costco right now but they are all a dark gray rather than the multi color… for the more conservative shop owner. I think the price was in the same range as well.

  12. Gapsard de Coligny says:

    Ok, is it fireproof ?putting flammable flooring on a shop seems a bad idea to me… especially plastic which can give nasty fume.

  13. eschoendorff says:

    I have something similar to this… works well to lay on when a creeper is too tall…

  14. Jake says:

    Well said Chuck.

    Everyone’s a critic.

  15. Jeremy says:

    If you have never worked at a bench with a padded floor instead of concrete you can’t appreciate how good this stuff is. you know that sore feet tired leg “I just want to go sit on the couch” feeling you get after standing on concrete for a few hours? This is the stuff to change that. Cover the area in front of your benches about 3 feet out and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

  16. Rick says:

    We’ve got about 200 sq ft of this in various rooms around the house and at my mom’s for the baby. She loves it because she can get around and we don’t have to worry about her smacking her head on the hardwood floors as she learns to walk. So far it’s been pretty good, though it’s inside.

    I’m hoping once I build out the workbench I’m hoping to do come spring, etc. in the garage, that i can “repurpose” some of these for that. All told I was thrilled to find these at Sams for a reasonable price. Good find..

    And MikeR – fantastic idea about swapping sides and putting them in a different room when one side wears.

  17. Don says:

    These are very popular for exhibits at trade shows. They make it very nice for exhibitors like myself because the are cheap, lightweight, fast and far more comfortable than concrete floors.

  18. Ken says:

    These are great. I use them under my grandkids pool when they come to visit in the summer. They are also handy for covering the landscape stones so the kids have something soft to walk on.The kids also sit on them when they are playing in the sand.When put together the right way they also make a nice fort.They are great my grandkids love them.

  19. Eli says:

    *Sort of related*
    My work often takes me to locations covered with asphalt, concrete, etc for weeks at a time. After the first few years of back problems, I discovered that changing your shoes at lunch alleviates all aforementioned problems. The foam in your soles goes flat after about six hours, and doesn’t provide arch support. After a while the problems travel up your legs and to your back. Shoes should be left at least overnight before being worn again, and if you wear tennies, wash them every few weeks (but don’t put them in the dryer, it ruins the glue and the soles)

    So instead of covering the floor, recover your feet.

  20. Jon says:

    Hear hear Chuck!

    You should publish that as “Commenting Commandments”

    Or something

  21. Paul says:

    Chuck Cage Says:
    Paul: Think about this a bit.

    You know I could go on and on about reading what someone has said etc but I am not going to. I’m just going to cut my losses and hit the happy trails. Have a nice lifer.

    Site removed from bookmarks.

  22. Sweetalker says:

    Don’t forget your ball, Paul

  23. Ray says:

    Instead of laying these all over your concrete floor as a cheap-ass fatigue mat, why not just glue pieces to the bottom of your work boots? You’d look like a total prat, but think of the savings!

  24. Fong says:

    For those who may do a lot of automotive work in their shop and worried about durability (physical and chemical). Here’s a pricier alternative at about $2/square foot. It’s not as easy to replace sections but should be much less likely to need it. These padded pieces would be great in front of the work bench though.

    http://www.gladiatorgw.com/detail.asp?BaseModelID=GAFC0824PN

  25. MindHacker says:

    We replaced the nursery floor at church and I took a load of this to my apartment… It’s alot of fun, comfortable enough to sleep on (or wrestle, if you are so inclined, although id advise against a full throw), an ease to clean (just take a wet cloth and a lot of weight and wipe, if you have adequate ventilation and no carpet beneath, hose and scrub.), and protects our floor so that the college can’t rape us with fines at the end of the year. I can assure you that it is *not* flammable… I’ve tested nichrome ignitors on it and while they will melt into the floor the floor refuses to burn. I think its designed with this in mind because the packaging is marked that way, and besides, no one wants little kids catching on fire.

    So: what it doesnt stand up to:
    Angle grinders / extended dremeling (small holes “heal” themselves.)
    6amp nichrome igniters slowly melt through it
    Our cat would scratch at it trying to burrow under doors… this wore it away into a spongy type thing in a few spots
    You. I can almost guarantee that you will steal little piece to use here, as a pad here, as a spacer there, as a little duct thing near the window, to cover up sharp points / hooks, or as a prototyping circuit board thing (its so nice, you can sketch a circuit and then just jam them in there.)

  26. roy says:

    i trimmed a set for the back of my honda Element,its there to sleep on when we go camping,and always handy for the dogs ,we have three,they dont slip around back there any more.. and it was cheap.

    a heavy old blanket rolled up back there,,and no matter what, we can crash for the night anywhere any time.

    couldn’t be happier

  27. Leslie says:

    Someone gave me a big stack of these (go, Freecycle!) a few years back and they proven to be an amazingly versatile thing to have around the house, something I would definitely buy for the cost (I have the black ones, btw). So far they’ve been used to reduce leg fatigue in front of the workbench (including the multitude of spots that get turned into temporary workbenches at times), as an exercise mat (highly recommend it for that and the pieces stay connected for aerobic exercises), as temporary waterproof flooring in our basement, and it’s about to be cleaned off to use as playmat for our baby granddaughter who is determined to learn to walk though her balance isn’t really there yet, especially with socks or soft baby feet on hardwood floors.

    And Chuck, I applaud your response.

  28. Teacher says:

    I picked up a bunch of these to use at our gymnastics school in the preschool area. 5 years and they’re still going strong. I picked up a bunch of black ones(different brand but still cheap) at Big Lots. I put some in front of my two work benches and they made a huge difference in reducing sore back and knees.

    The packs I bought contained six 2’x2′ squares for $9. One pack will work for both benches so if they wear out in a couple years, replacing them is no big hit to the wallet.

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