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Everything You Need to Know about the Type of Rubber Used in Rubber Surfacing

Whether procured naturally or synthetically, rubber has been used as a versatile construction material for thousands of years. The elastic material combines natural tensile and tear strength with a fantastic ability to perform crucial functions. Moreover, rubber can be compounded and processed to meet a variety of mechanical needs. It is moisture and slip-resistant and absorbs vibrations and noise.

Over years, rubber has been produced in numerous variations, each having distinct characteristics that make them suitable for various applications, one of which is surfacing. The above-mentioned capabilities of rubber make it an ideal surfacing material for homes, offices, commercial buildings, sports centers, gyms, hospitals, senior and kid care centers, and pool decks among others.

Rubber floorings exhibit a high level of durability and strength and are easy to maintain, making them a popular flooring choice today. Moreover, it is comfortable underfoot and safe for homes with residents prone to falls.

The flooring is available in two primary product types, namely natural and synthetic rubber. This post offers valuable information on the types of rubber used for surfacing, its applications, and the benefits of opting for rubber floors.

1. Natural Rubber

Natural rubber comprises long isoprene polymer chains that reattach themselves when pulled, giving rubber its elasticity. Unlike synthetic rubber that’s made using petrochemicals, natural rubber is made from the latex sap of the rubber tree, extracted through a process called tapping.

Rubber derived naturally is highly flexible, elastic, and has amazing tensile strength. Owing to its tenacity, compatibility, and high level of wear and heat resistance, natural rubber is used in various engineering applications.

For instance, it’s used in rubber cement and soil stabilization materials applied in the construction of roads. Rubber sap is also used to manufacture eco rubber flooring rolls that are applied to commercial and residential spaces to protect the surface beneath.

However, the quality and the properties of the material vary with the tree it’s derived from. Natural rubber also comes with natural impurities and is vulnerable to environmental conditions and hydrocarbons like fuel, oil, and non-polar solvents. Further, it isn’t as resistant to heat, light, and ozone when compared to synthetic rubber types like EPDM and neoprene.

Finally, since latex is notorious for inducing allergic reactions, home decor experts and interior designers recommend installing synthetic rubber floors instead of the natural one.

2. Synthetic Rubber

Synthetic rubber is made using petroleum. The material is more durable and resilient in comparison to natural rubber. Once installed, synthetic rubber surfaces are known to last for almost 20 years with proper maintenance.

Let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages of synthetic rubber surfaces.

Advantages

Durability and Resilience

Synthetic rubber can withstand high volumes of foot traffic, routine wear and tear, and harsh weather conditions, making it a durable flooring material for homes and industrial settings.

It possesses excellent shock-absorbing impact. Hence, it’s great for areas like gyms and weight rooms where weights are being dropped or rigorous workout is on. The surface is so tough that it’s resistant to scratches or dents. Once installed, the flooring will serve you well for years with minimum need for maintenance. In case of damage, you can easily get in touch with a local rubber surfacing expert to refinish the area.

Moisture-Resistant

Being moisture-resistant, synthetic rubber doesn’t get easily damaged by water or fluid spills. That’s a big reason why EPDM poured-in-place rubber surfaces are preferred in wet areas like pool decks and bathrooms.

Easy to Clean and Maintain

Contrary to popular belief, rubber surfaces are fairly easy to clean and maintain. All you need is a vacuum cleaner to gather all the dust and dirt and a mop with a mild detergent to clean the surface. However, remember to avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the surface.

Slip-Resistant

Rubber is known to have a higher coefficient of friction than other surfacing materials. Hence, it can push back any lateral motion, even when the surface is wet. This makes rubber surfaces slip-resistant and safe for use in homes and establishments with seniors, kids, and pets.

Noise-Absorbing Potential

Rubber surfaces are capable of reducing the impact of noise in a building. Synthetic rubber acts as an excellent sound insulator in the following ways:

  • It prevents sound transmission between rooms and floors
  • It reduces the background noise to enhance the overall sound quality
  • It reduces impact noise (from foot traffic and workouts) and airborne noise (people, speakers, or musical instruments).

Installing synthetic rubber surfaces can help absorb the echo in an area and stop the transmission of sound between rooms. No wonder, synthetic rubber floors by Rubaroc are increasingly preferred in apartments, hospitals, libraries, and other areas that require a quiet surfacing.

Comfortable Under Feet

Being elastic, rubber offers a comfortable cushioning effect under the feet. As a result, it’s a great surface to move about or stand on for long periods. For instance, rubber surfacing is a great option for the cooking area or a home gym where one has to stand or work out for long hours.

Rubber is a soft surface that’s extremely safe in the most active environments, like gyms, sports facilities, and playgrounds.

In case of an accident or fall, rubber surfaces prove to be forgiving, unlike other floor types like vinyl, wood, or tiles. Rubber can absorb the impact of a fall, thus reducing its severity and minimizing the risk of serious injuries.

Available in a Variety of Colors and Textures

Gone are the days when rubber surfaces were available in a few unattractive colors for commercial or industrial applications. Synthetic rubber floors are now available in a variety of colors, designs, and textures that can be customized as per your requirement.

Synthetic rubber can be set and molded into a variety of textures, including dimples, rivets, studs, and waffles. This not just complements the overall decor and adds dimension to an area but also improves the traction of the flooring, especially in high-traffic spaces.

Rubber flooring has become more popular in residential areas and luxury villas. Most rubber surfacing firms are coming up with attractive flooring patterns, colors, and speckled hues to meet trending customer demands. A few rubber surfacing experts can also work the faux stone and ceramic look to elevate your interior and exterior decor.

Inhospitable to Pathogens

Surfaces like wood or cork tend to harbor pathogens, mold, and mildew if not maintained properly. Further, dirt and grime tend to accumulate in the seams of ceramic tiles, especially in the presence of moisture.

Rubber surfaces are devoid of these issues as they are inhospitable to pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi that thrive in moist conditions. Further, end-to-end poured-in-place rubber surface installations do not have seams or ridges that harbor the dirt and dust. This makes synthetic EPDM surfaces an ideal choice in most settings.

Disadvantages

Emits Odor When Newly Installed

Brand new rubber surface installations tend to emit a moderate rubber-like odor for some time. Though it is harmless, the odor can be annoying to some. However, the odor fades off within a day or two, depending on the amount of ventilation in the area.

The Initial Cost May Be High

Rubber surface installation may seem to be a costly affair when compared to other flooring options like PVC or ceramic tiles. This is partly true in the initial phase. However, the surface pays for itself in the long term.

The flooring stands up to a lot of regular wear and tear and foot traffic. Further, the surface offers far superior properties like durability, performance, comfort, aesthetic value, safety, and versatility that are enough to outweigh its disadvantages.

Having known the pros and cons of installing rubber surfaces, let’s know more about the popular types of synthetic rubber surfaces used today.

A. EPDM Rubber

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber is a form of synthetic rubber that’s used in Rubaroc surfacing material. The molecular structure made up of ethylene, propylene, and diene monomers are extremely resistant to outdoor conditions and UV rays. The surface stands up to moisture, abrasion, and harsh/ extreme weather conditions. Owing to its waterproofing and noise-canceling properties, it is ideal for outdoor and indoor applications.

EPDM rubber from Rubaroc comes in the form of shredded rubber granules that are mixed on-site with a high-quality polymer resin. The mix is then poured in place and troweled by rubber surfacing professionals to achieve a resilient, non-skid, and safe surface for spaces like playgrounds, gyms, sports centers, and running tracks.

Since the mixture is made on the project site, it can be permanently incorporated into a variety of designs, shapes, and brand logos. Rubber surfaces by Rubcorp conform to international standards like the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) for skid resistance and fall protection. It also provides ADA access to play areas and sports facilities.

EPDM rubber from Rubaroc doesn’t fade as its material possesses structural color (not painted after application). Rubcorp’s poured-in-place rubber surfaces comprise the following –

EPDM

Rubcorp’s EPDM rubber possesses low thermal conductivity, flexibility, through-coloring, and UV stability. This makes it a viable surfacing material for a variety of applications. The granules are made from high-quality rubber offered at the lowest possible price.

Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR) comprises recycled and pre-cycled materials procured from old tires. This material is mostly used to fill cracks or provide a base. But SBR can also be combined with EPDM to achieve greater cost-effectiveness in heavy-duty applications.

Polyurethane Resins

Our polyurethane resin is used to bind the granules together and improve bonding with the subfloor. The resin is engineered to withstand the harshest UV radiation and chemical conditions while maintaining a low VOC rating (volatile organic compounds). Our single-component binder increases the flexibility of finished rubber surfaces, thereby enhancing its performance in the harshest conditions and applications.

Our Aliphatic (UV Stabil) polymer resin is made up of long chains of repeating molecules that are responsible for the surface’s tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to UV exposure. The resin flows slowly, making it easy for the flooring professional to apply the mix on the available surface.

We also offer Aromatic resins (MDI Basic and MDI Hard) that possess high tensile strength. Prolonged UV exposure can cause these resins to amber temporarily; however, this will not impact the color, resilience, or adhesion of the surface. MDI Basic tends to cure harder than UV Stabil. Our MDI Hard resin is manufactured with hardening additives to give the surface additional strength. Hence, this product is also ideal for heavy-duty applications.

Primer

The primer is a Rubcorp’s proprietary blend that’s designed and tested by us to ensure that the rubber layer binds not just intrinsically but also with the substrate. When Rubcorp’s solvent is added, it allows for penetration into the substrate, forming a bond that is continuous from the subsurface to the surface.

Coating

The coating protects the inner layers from heavy and frequent foot traffic and harsh external exposure. Adding Rubcorp Roll Coat offers the following benefits –

  • UV protection for areas subject to long-term sun exposure
  • Additional protection from foreign matter and debris
  • Ease of maintenance and spot cleaning
  • Prevention of waste and gray water interaction in spaces like the locker rooms
  • Protection against abrasive and repetitive interactions in garages, playgrounds, and gyms.

Besides, we offer Poly Coat that offers chlorine protection, ultra UV protection, and extreme exposure protection.

B. SBR Rubber

Styrene-Butadiene-Rubber surfaces are environment-friendly granulated recycled tire material that has been used in the US for over 30 years. These black rubber granules are later coated with colored polyurethane.

SBR is mostly used along with EPDM poured-in-place rubber surfacing to fill low areas and offer extra fall protection on playgrounds, sports centers, running tracks, walkways, and infill for artificial grass. The base rubber is the SBR recycled rubber granule and the top wearing layer is a colored EPDM recycled rubber crumb. A high-grade SBR is used in driveways and garages.

The rubber granules are obtained from 100 percent waste truck tires. The size can be customized as per customer preferences – 0-1 mm, 1-3 mm, 3-6 mm.

C. Recycled Rubber

Recycled rubberized flooring is another popular surface with certain sectors it’s considered to be safe for the environment. This surface is made by shredding rubber from items like old automobile tires. The resulting flooring is durable and low impact.

Another benefit of recycled rubber floors is that their cost of manufacturing is lower compared to synthetic rubber, reducing the overall cost. Even though recycled rubber is inexpensive, it is very durable and in many cases, much stronger than natural rubber. These floorings are also versatile and can be used in different areas around your house.

D. Neoprene Rubber

Neoprene or polychloroprene elastomers are durable, firm, stable, and resistant to heavy-duty activities, aging, oil, chemicals, and ozone. Neoprene rubber sheets are commonly used for external applications to protect floors and create an anti-slip surface.

However, the color options are limited. Neoprene rubber rolls are commonly available in black color. So, it’s application is limited to commercial and industrial applications.

Neoprene rubber is quite popular for marine applications as it’s resistant to moisture. Also, owing to its oil and chemical resistance, neoprene is a favorite in the food-service industry. For instance, restaurant kitchen surfaces see a lot of water, oils, and greases. Neoprene mats offer flooring protection and resist the degrading effects of oil. Further, it provides a skid-proof surface, making the cooking area safe, secure, and productive.

E. Nitrile Rubber

Nitrile rubber or NBR is a synthetic rubber copolymer of acrylonitrile (ACN) and butadiene that displays excellent resistance to petroleum-based oils, fuels, water, alcohols, silicone greases, and hydraulic fluids.

The surface exhibits high abrasion resistance and tensile strength; however, it suffers from poor flexibility, flame resistance, and weather resistance. Also, nitrile rubber performs poorly when exposed to oxygenated solvents and chlorinated hydrocarbons.

It is available as nitrile rubber scraper mats, drainage mats, anti-fatigue mats, kitchen mats, and runner mats.

F. Butyl Rubber

Butyl rubber is a synthetic copolymer of isobutylene with isoprene that possesses excellent temperature and chemical resistance. Further, butyl rubber mats are known to possess sound-deadening properties. They not just reduce sound transmission but also increase the bass sound quality.

Butyl rubber mats are designed to eliminate vibrations and significantly reduce noise, thus reducing stress and ear fatigue. Hence, these mats are a great choice for audiovisual rooms and even cars where you need to reduce the noise coming from outside of the vehicle.

These mats are waterproof and impermeable to gases. They are resistant to sunlight, ozone, inorganic products, mineral acids, alkaline and aqueous acids. Hence, they are an ideal choice for small and large pond and storage tank linings. Owing to the aforementioned properties, butyl rubber is a popular choice among landscapers globally.

Rubber Flooring Product Formats

Rubber surfaces are available in various formats. It’s important to know your options before making a decision.

  • Poured-In-Place or Wet Pour Rubber Surfaces: These types of rubber surfacing are widely preferred owing to the various advantages we spoke about earlier in this post.
  • Rubber Floor Mats: These come in different shapes and sizes to fit all spaces and needs. However, they are intended to be used independently. For a secure installation, you may have to choose a mat with interlocking edges.
  • Rubber Floor Tiles: Most rubber tiles are available as puzzle-style interlocking edges for easy installation. However, they have many seams, increasing the chances of dirt and moisture accumulating in them.
  • Rubber Floor Rolls: These are available for covering large areas and have fewer seams. They come in large and heavy rolls; hence, they are tough to install.

Rubber Flooring Thickness

Finally, regardless of the rubber flooring type you choose, it’s critical to consider the thickness of the surface. Before deciding on the surface thickness, consider these questions –

  • What will the surface be used for? The activities that will take place on the flooring.
  • Does the surface need to meet any specific requirements or international standards (critical fall height, traction, rotation, slip resistance, and shock and noise absorption)?
  • Will the rubber flooring be installed indoors or outdoors?
  • How much traffic and intensive activity will the area experience?
  • What kind of installation do you prefer?

The answers to these questions will help you determine the exact type, thickness, texture, finish, and style of rubber flooring that’s most suitable for your space. Here’s how the rubber surface will vary as per the use of the area.

Residential Floors for Interiors: These can be thinner in comparison to high-intensity areas like play areas. Plus, this area isn’t exposed to harsh weather conditions and too much wear and tear. The rubber surface thickness here varies between ¼ inch and ½ inch.

Residential Exterior Flooring: This surface needs to be thicker than the interiors. It should at least be one inch to withstand the environmental elements. For playgrounds, the rubber covering should be about 2” and 3” thick to offer extra cushioning and protection against falls.

Weight Training Rooms and Fitness Centers: These spaces need a rubber surface thickness that can withstand power sports. It should be sturdy, durable, and dense enough to brave the high impact activity without bending or denting the surface.

Busy Training Facilities: These spaces experience high-intensity activity. Hence, they will benefit from a greater rubber thickness that offers greater durability and resistance to wear and tear.

Summing Up

The best part about rubber surfaces is that they are highly versatile, have a long lifespan, are highly resilient, and capable of lasting for more than two decades if properly taken care of. No wonder, most homeowners, commercial space owners, and interior decor experts prefer installing rubber surfaces. We hope this detailed guide on the types of rubber used in rubber surfacing has been a helpful resource to you! As you can see, EPDM rubber surfacing is one of the commonly used rubber floorings used for several spaces. If you need more information on the type of surfacing that will best suit your needs, feel free to get in touch with our team on YourSurface@rubcorp.com or call us on 972.462.7259. We are here to help you!

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Creative Director, Rubcorp Distribution, LLC

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