Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Best flooring for shop

Hello fellow Orchidians,

I’ve curiously read the threads on here for years, and have finally
decided to post a question.

What’s the consensus on Shop floors? What’s the best material,
linoleum, tile, or laminate? Does anyone have recommendations for a
certain brand of flooring that they’ve installed and loved? What is
the best color for visibility for finding lost stones? Ideally the
material would be soft enough for dropping gemstones without
damaging them, yet durable enough to hold up to rolling chairs and
occasionally hot metal. Cost is a factor as well. Thanks in advance.

In Austin Texas

Well, Doug, I’m no “shop floor expert”, first off. You have to live
in your shop, so comfort and appearance matter. We have industrial
creamy colored vinyl tile - the kind 1/2 the schools and hospitals
in the world have, but we are in a mercantile building, and the tile
comes with the space. Friends of mine have black, and it’s a bear to
find stuff on. Anyway - the very best floor for dealing with small
parts being dropped and such, is cork. Same for dance floors, BTW.
Parts land on cork and stop dead - no bouncing. Another option for
stand-up places is the mats they make with a honeycomb of spaces.
They are good on the feet, and anything dropped goes into the space
and stays put. Not good for chairs, though. Beyond that I’m sure
you’ll get lots of feedback here…

Hi Doug,

I used a solid color VCT (vinyl composite tile) on my studio floor
and love it. The key is to use a “solid” color. Try to avoid any type
of design or color changes within the tile. My previous studio floor
was wood, and the grain of the wood made it very difficult for your
eyes/brain to pick out dropped stones. I had to special order the
solid color vct from Lowe’s, because they only stock the stuff that
has the flecks of other colors mixed in (like school floors).

Gena Wagner
Louisville, Ky

I can unequivocally say… it depends.

Hard flooring is easier than carpet to maintain and easier to find
lost stuff, just sweep. But sometimes when you put the pressure on
the benchpin your chair can slide away from the bench, annoying.
Carpet can provide rolling resistance.

Run your chair over a dropped stone and you might break it on hard
flooring, on carpet you might not busticate it so easy.

Work a lot with hot drippy metal? Concrete would be your solution.
Deal with Portland cement dust over time though, ick. You might have
it glazed for dust control but I dunno how that holds up under molten

If the biggest concern is ease of locating dropped stuff you might
think about ways to confine the roll-away-ability of the bench setup.
The common jewelers bench on the market has steel legs which provide
many hiding places. Maybe seal those somehow…plywood panels inboard
of the legs maybe. Get your cables up off the floor.

If you have a shop big enough to make it worthwhile you could have
workstations with flooring suited to the task. Resilient flooring at
the setting bench, concrete for the casting area and so forth. If you
opt for carpeting anywhere be sure to use commercial grade,
primarily for fire resistance.

We have industrial creamy colored vinyl tile - the kind 1/2 the
schools and hospitals in the world have, 

To make a slight correction, its linoleum tile, not vinyl. Ive
installed this in parts of my old shop, its hard core resilliant,
easy to install, easy to maintain and comes in a variety of cool
colors. You can get it at most home improvement stores. The good
stuff is made by Armstrong and is a solid color throughout the tile,
so if it gets scratched or damaged its still the same color.
Reasonable cost too, but not very easy on the feet, pretty much like
standing on concrete.

The other as stated is cork, really good on the feet, but you dont
want to be dragging heavy stuff across the floor as you can damage
the cork. One great advantage about cork, is its insulation value, if
you have cold winters (I suspenct Austin has its couple of days of
cold weather) its great. Lumber Liquidators would be my place of
choice to buy any wood floor product.

Lastly is rubber flooring, similar to stuff used in gym’s. Great
wear resistance, easy on the feet, easy to maintain, but limited to
mostly the black/grey color range, and im sure stuff would bounce all
over the place when dropped, but not damaged. You can buy this by the

Just my two cents, good luck!

Work a lot with hot drippy metal? Concrete would be your solution.
Deal with Portland cement dust over time though, ick. You might
have it glazed for dust control but I dunno how that holds up under
molten metal. 

I have a concrete floor in my studio, and had it painted with a
mold- preventive paint when it was installed about 17 years ago. The
walls are concrete block, also painted with mold-preventive paint.
The floor has been great for me - I do a range of media, not just
jewelry, and the floor take the abuse, and drains the water from my
papermaking and the constantly running dehumidifier right into the
floor drains. No worries if something spills.

So far dropped stones have not broken - much to my surprise! They do
a great job vanishing though… my floor is painted gray, and
things “hide” for weeks sometimes before I find them.

My chair is not on rollers, so that bit has not been an issue…

Works fine for me, but this is a working studio, not open to the
public. Don’t think the “look” would work if you are in a retail
environment…although there are some really nice concrete finishes
out there now that were not available 17 years ago (or at least I
didn’t know about them!).

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

Hi Doug,

I renovated my studio, which had an uninsulated concrete floor, and
installed commercial, recycled rubber floor tiles. I love it - I can
drop things and not worry about damage, it is warm, easy to clean,
and easy on the body. As well, if you drop hot metal, it doesn’t

Donna Hiebert Design

installed commercial, recycled rubber floor tiles. 

Could you tell us where you purchased them. How old are they, and
are they still standing up. How long you think they will last.

Thank you,
Daniel Culver

Hi Dan

installed commercial, recycled rubber floor tiles 

These tiles are 2 feet square and apx 3/8 inch thick. Black rubber.
It wears incredibly well - I have drop a hot ingot on the floor with
little or no effect. Easy to sweep - easy to roll around on your
chair if you want to. Good traction when drawing wire etc. Quiet,
warm, easy to see stones etc that are dropped.

It smells for awhile after installation but if you don’t mind the
smell of rubber who cares. This flooring is often used behind bars in
restaurants, in exercise weight rooms, etc. It is fire rated so a
cigarette can burn down if dropped and the floor will not melt.

It is not cheap - this is a “do it once and never think about it
again” type of flooring and I highly recommend it.

For now,
Donna Hiebert Design

Right-On Donna,

I use the same sort of thing. My neighborhood gym was renovating and
getting rid of 4’x 6’ sheets of 1/2" thick rubber flooring. I put
those right down on the concrete floor of my studio. They smelled a
little funky for a while (and not just from the rubber, LOL!). But,
they’re nice and cushy. They’re also great for protecting my joints
and lower back while I’m standing on them. Also great for protecting
delicate pieces or stones if you should accidentally drop one and
easy to find little things on black surface.


I don’t have access to rubber floor tiles, but did find a great cheap
solution from Harbour Freight. They interlock are 4 to a pack (i
used 5 packs to cover most of the studio), grey in colour, are quite
comfortable and effective given the $7.49 a pack price tag.

They do melt down though when droplets of hot metal fall onto them-
however, they are easy to pick up as they stay where the tiles melt
through.If you can deal with a few minor holes occassionally and are
operating on as low a budget as you can these recycled materials mats
are great! My bench chair rolls easily across the surface and I have
only had problems with one tile out of 25 not fitting quite right
until I turned it aroiund and put some of the provided edge strip on
to hold it down where the anvil stump resides. I guess the force of
forging made the product give when it shouldn’t have- but a trivial
detail to me for the cost and overall functionality, comfort and 40+
hours of use the tiles see in an average week.

When a Stone falls it is also easy to both find and retrieve due to
the texturing on the tiles. They don’t get scratched or damaged
wither as they did with the bare wooden floors and the occassional
nail head, or some other gradue, not to mention themultitudinous
hours I can count looking with flashlights, and other contraptions
for finding stones in dim areas of the studio on a wood floor!

They are also quite easy to clean - I have swept up dust from the
grinding area, the sawing areas, and bits from all around the bench,
rolling mill,etc with great return on the amount of energy invested
in sweeping ( I also use the [ essentially ] giant masking tape mats
that Rosenthal and a few other vendors sell for trapping the dust off
of shoes etc. that walks out of most shops- a good investment also if
you do alot of hand fabrication as opposed to casting) !

I used long food service rubber mats for years before I found these
these Harbour freight bargains. I spent a lot of money for nowhere
near the ease of use, cushioning, or other features that make these
my choice over any available or ordered-in flooring I could find. If
you need some sources of flooring other than the Harbor Freight I
have a listing of manufacturers and vendors that sell almost every
kind of industrial tile, roll, or yardage flooring- except recycled
rubber tiles- that exists, write me ( in a few days sas I am busy
with a production order) if you can’t find your own. However, if you
are on a low budget, order or buy from your local Harbor Freight
stoe- can’t beat the price and convenience- just buy one extra pack
for replacements before you need it / them !! or before they
discontinue the product altogether! rer

I also use the interlocking rubber floor tiles from Harbor Freight.
My chair didn’t move easily on them, though. So, I put one of those
floor protector mats underneath my chair at my bench. Now I can move
freely and hot pieces that fall on the mat don’t burn through as
easily as they did on the rubber floor tiles.


Fancy floors sure sound nice. My transition from dirt to flat level
plywood sure was great. Maybe some day I’ll get around to painting
it :slight_smile:

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing