Choosing the best martial arts mats for a facility is one of the most important decisions owners will make. Deciding what kind of surface to place them on, however, is often overlooked until the last minute. Gym owners frequently deal with concrete flooring as the base for their mats, leaving them curious about the options available for mat placement. One option that is frequently discussed is building a subfloor. But what is a subfloor, what are the options available, and when should you consider building one?
What is a Martial Arts Subfloor?
A subfloor, specifically in regard to martial arts gyms, is a surface built above the construction-built floor of the gym, often in order to add cushioning to the main floor. There are several different reasons that gym owners consider subfloors. Gyms that teach Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or train MMA fighters, have athletes that are doing a lot of takedowns and throws. Building a subfloor for the mats can add a level of cushioning. It also help the floor “give” when athletes land on it, much like the surface of a cage or ring. This makes training easier on their bodies, as well as reduces the number of potential injuries.
What are Your Options for a Martial Arts Subfloor?
The options for a subfloor vary depending on your preferred expense, available materials, and your expertise when it comes to building oner. One of the most common subfloor options is to use plywood that is placed atop different materials, creating the desired cushion and give.
oam blocks are also a great, inexpensive choice for a subfloor. Zebra offers inexpensive yet sturdy foam blocks to build subfloors for gym owners who decide to go that route.
A more unusual, but effective, choice, is to use old rubber tires. Owners can also use springs, such as those found in gymnastics floors. This is usually the most expensive of the options, and the most technically difficult to build.
Once you’ve chosen your materials, you’ll need to cover them with plywood. Typically, this is two layers of plywood atop the foam, tires, or springs. Once this is built, the mats are placed on the plywood to finish the floor.
It’s not necessary to build a subfloor when installing Zebra Mats, but it is recommended for those looking for extra cushion while training. For more information on installing Zebra Mats on any type of floor, read our installation guide.