Balancing budget, horse safety and maintenance
Barn flooring is a key component of any good equine facility. Materials need to have traction and be easy to clean and maintain, but they should also protect horses from injuries and (ideally) look nice. So how do you know which is right for you?
There are lots of materials you can choose from for barn flooring. For aisles, crushed stone or popcorn asphalt works well for both traction and drainage. For stall bases, choose an option that has good drainage and give, like popcorn asphalt or gravel and sand. Concrete covered with mats is the perfect choice for wash racks, and concrete makes an easy-to-clean choice for feed and tack rooms.
Barn Flooring Basics
There are three parts to your barn’s flooring: the foundation, the footings, and the flooring. These components work together to create the final picture. The footings and the foundation hold the barn up, so leave those decisions to the professionals.
There are lots of choices for flooring thanks to a wide range of materials.
As you rethink your barn flooring, you’re bound to run into a number of issues you hadn’t thought of before!
Common Barn Flooring Materials
There are many difference materials you can choose from, and each one has pros and cons—of course!
- Popcorn asphalt
- Rubber Mats
- Crushed stone
Barn Flooring Considerations
- Price: Options like dirt are free or very cheap, whereas concrete, especially if mixed with aggregate gravel for traction, can get expensive. Rubber mats are another costly investment. Popcorn asphalt is reasonably priced, and crushed stone can be, too, especially if you buy it in bulk.
- Geography/Availability: Not all choices may be readily available (or sensible to use) in all regions. Pure clay is available pretty much everywhere. While concrete is another universal option, it’s not the best idea for stalls in cold environments.
- Safety: Some options, like popcorn asphalt, clay, dirt, or crushed stone, are inherently very safe choices for horses because they provide traction and good drainage. Other choices, like concrete, can be very slippery unless mats are placed on top.
- Function: The ideal choice is all-in-one, in that it provides traction, drainage, easy maintenance, and a good aesthetic. Crushed stone and popcorn asphalt both fit the bill.
Aisles are as much for you as for your horses. They need to be safe, easy to clean, and should look nice. If you choose a slippery material, like concrete, you’ll also want to invest in some rubber mats for safety.
Rubber mats can be very expensive, so another option is to create a popcorn asphalt walkway in the middle of the concrete.
Best Materials for Aisles
Popcorn asphalt is a great choice because it helps keep the floor dry and provides some traction. It’s also easy to keep clean, whether you blow the aisle or wash it down with a hose. Crushed stone is also a solid choice.
For horse stalls, need a material that provides support for your horses’ legs along with good drainage.
Best Base Materials for Stalls
Popcorn asphalt is an excellent choice, as is stonedust. Dirt is the cheapest option but should be paired with a layer of stone or gravel for drainage.
A mixture of stonedust and clay is also a solid choice.
Many owners opt to use stall mats, both for easy cleaning and for comfort.
Mats are a must if you have concrete stall floors and will prolong the life of popcorn asphalt or any clay/dirt options.
Horse Wash Racks
It’s important to get the right flooring in wash racks—which can be slippery if done wrong. You also need to think about drainage.
Best Materials for Wash Racks
Concrete makes a great base for wash racks as it’s easy to keep clean. However, you’ll need to place rubber mats on top to provide your horse with traction.
If you want a one-and-done solution, consider using crushed stone. It naturally provides traction and is great for drainage.
Horse Tack Rooms
A tack room is one of the few spaces a horse will never be, so traction doesn’t have to factor in when you choose your flooring. In high-end barns, some may go with common household floorings, like tiles or hardwood.
To save money and create a common aesthetic, you can use the same material in the tack room you do in your stalls or aisles.
Best Materials for Tack Rooms
Concrete is the easiest choice as it’s simple to clean and requires minimal maintenance. You can also go with popcorn asphalt or crushed stone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the best material for a horse stall floor?
Because horses may have to stand in their stalls for long periods, you want something that gives the best support to their legs. Materials like clay, sand, or soil (with an underlayer of gravel to help with drainage) are best.
Q: What should a barn floor be made of?
The materials can vary depending on whether it’s the floor of a stall or an aisle. Stick to softer materials for stalls and opt for materials like popcorn asphalt or concrete (covered with rubber mats) for aisles.
Q: Is it OK for a horse to walk on gravel?
Horses are fine to walk on hard surfaces, including gravel. For maximum comfort, the gravel should be no larger than ¾ inch. If your horse has recently switched from shoes to barefoot, he may be sore or tender on gravel, until his hooves toughen up.
Q: Is pea gravel good for horse stalls?
Pea gravel is an excellent base for horse stalls. It’s best to put mats on top of it, but that’s just to prevent having to replace the pea gravel every year (otherwise, some of it will get removed every time you clean the stall).
Keep in mind that some of the cheaper flooring options may be harder to clean, just like some of the more expensive choices may make cleaning a breeze. In the end, any flooring that’s safe for the horses (and affordable for you) will work just fine.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
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