When it comes to buying gym equipment there are often many brands and options available. Many gym equipment companies will often show you the most expensive brands and options available but will hardly ever tell you the real difference between them. That's why TracFitness created the Knowledge Center page to help consumers like you, become informed on what it is you are buying. We look to help the consumer make the best and most informed decision in order to maximize satisfaction and avoid regrets!
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Urethane vs Rubber | What's the Difference?
In simple terms urethane is just another form of rubber with different chemical properties. You might have seen some dumbbells or plates being referred to as polyurethane and all you need to know is that urethane and polyurethane are used interchangeably. Polyurethane is a polymer comprised of multiple urethane groups.
Urethane is a man-made substance whereas rubber comes from tress and plants. This is important as urethane tends to outlast rubber and stand up to sunlight and outdoor environments.
Where they Differ
Rubber and urethane plates or dumbbells really difference in their soft / hard qualities. Urethane is generally more harder than rubber. Urethane will benefit from this as it is superior for its engraving capabilities and higher resistance to degradation. Rubber on the other hand has more resilience on impact and more elastic memory. This is why most bumper plates are manufactured with rubber. Both serve different purpose.
Which should you choose?
If you are looking to maximize the lifespan and condition of your gym equipment, both rubber and urethane are the way to go. Not only do iron plates have a higher rate of chipping and causing more damage to gym equipment and flooring, they tend to look more "used" faster.
Urethane benefits from its hardness. It is far more tear resistant than rubber. If your gym is going to be customizing its plates and dumbbells, you want to choose urethane. Urethane plates also have a precise color reproduction and will look amazing when finished. Rubber tends to have a more duller look and will be not able to reproduce logos to the same precision. The "downside" of urethane is it's feel. Some users do not like the feel of urethane. If you've ever picked up an Iron Grip urethane dumbbell it will feel as if though you were touching hard plastic. Urethane tends to have a plastic-looking surface that some customers don't like. Because of the components urethane also tends to be more slippery in the hand. That's why it's essential to buy a good brand with gripped plates. The Umax Urethane Plates are a great buy. They feature some of the highest grade urethane at relatively low prices compared to other brands.
Rubber benefits from the pricing. Rubber dumbbells are plates tend to be lower priced. Virgin rubber dumbbells are high quality that will look and feel premium. Virgin rubber is much better than recycled rubber as virgin rubber has zero to very low odor and will last longer. The Troy 8 Sided Rubber Dumbbells are an example of high quality virgin rubber dumbbells that have a premium feel to them.
Recycled rubber has a tendency to have some odor. Depending on the manufacturer, recycled rubber may be made with high quality components or chemicals and junk. Brands like Troy Barbell and Intek Strength make high end dumbbells.
Not all dumbbells or plates are created equal
Keep in mind that not all rubber is created equal. Many poor quality or cheap brands tend to use cheap and recycled rubber. They use inferior quality rubber and toxins in their plates and dumbbells (hence the foul odor). That is why certain brands are substantially cheaper. Chinese manufactures tend to dump crankcase oil into their rubber plates. To learn more about the Chinese vs American manufacturing and what that is all about, follow our knowledge center page!
Urethane is worth the cost if you are going to be using custom logos, colors, and need dumbbells or plates that will take a hard beating. Urethane dumbbells and plates look amazing but be prepared to pay the price. They are perfect for upscale gyms and facilities. Rubber dumbbells and plates are a great choice for those looking an alternative to iron products. High quality brands make excellent choices. They last a long time, they don't rust, they aren't as noisy, and they wont bang up your other equipment. We strongly recommend premium brands as poorly manufactured brands will end up deforming, ripping and tearing, smelling, and ultimately giving your facility a bad look!