What’s the real difference between rubber and urethane free weights?

What’s the real difference between rubber and urethane free weights?

Fitness spaces have come a long way from the days of sweaty dungeon gyms full of rugged equipment and loud cast iron plates crashing onto the floor. These days gyms have a different sort of aesthetic. A typical commercial or specialty gym will usually have rubber or urethane encased weights. At the same time, more traditional, purist gyms prefer bare cast-iron weights. To be fair, nothing beats the sound of the iron hitting the ground after a PR deadlift.

For now, let’s focus the discussion on the typical options we see in commercial and specialized gym spaces – urethane and rubber free weights. At first glance, these two appear to be the same, but there are intrinsic differences between them.

Rubber Free Weights

There are two main categories for rubber-coated free weights: virgin and non-virgin.

Virgin Rubber Free Weights

The distinction is relatively simple – “virgin rubber” is rubber in its purest form, meaning that it is the first use of the composition. This leads to a material that is cleaner, carries less odor and, generally lasts longer than its counterpart, which leads to longer performance. Naturally, this will lead to a higher price point. However, the rubber is prone to decomposing if a cleaning solution is used to clean it.

All three of our lines (Troy, VTX, and USA) carry a virgin rubber free weight option. These products exist right in between quality and price point which makes it the ideal choice for facilities of ANY type.

What are the ideal facilities to use these in?

Virgin rubber can be used across all types of facilities, although not recommended for spaces that are more exposed to the elements.

Virgin Rubber Weights available on the Troy & VTX line

  • Troy 12-Sided Dumbbell, TSD-R
  • VTX 8-Sided Dumbbell, SD-R
  • Troy Interlocking Plates, GO-R
  • VTX Rubber Grip Plates, GO-VR
  • Troy Custom Logo Bumpers, BPO-SBP
  • Troy Olympic Rubber Bumpers, BO-SBP
  • Troy Competition Bumpers (Black), BCO-SBP
  • VTX Solid Rubber Bumpers, O-SBP
  • Troy Fixed Straight Barbell, TSB-R
  • Troy EZ Curl Barbell, TZB-R

Non-Virgin Rubber Free Weights

Conversely, “non-virgin” is recycled rubber and you’ll typically hear it referred to by either of the two terms. 

Since it is reusing existing rubber, it costs less and is generally considered a more environmentally friendly product. The downside is that, depending on the manufacturer, it is not as resilient, doesn’t look as clean, and tends to have a more pungent odor than virgin rubber. It can also prematurely decompose based on the solution used to clean them.
Non-virgin rubber is commonly used on plates, dumbbells, barbells, gym flooring, and a variety of other gym equipment.
The USA line carries a few non-virgin weights which were designed to provide a cost-friendly option for our everyday consumer. At Troy Fitness, we ensure that every USA non-virgin rubber weight meets the same standard of quality that virgin rubber and urethane undergo. Additionally, we are one of the few companies with a warranty on these products.

What are the ideal facilities to use these in?

 You will typically find non-virgin types of weights marketed for home-use or smaller, low traffic facilities. However, it can be used across most facilities, although virgin rubber or urethane is recommended for commercial spaces.

Non-virgin rubber weights are available in our USA line.

  • USA Sports, HD-R
  • USA Sports, GP-R
  • USA Bumpers, GBO-SBP

Urethane Free Weights

Urethane is a human-made material that functions as a superior alternative to rubber. Out of the three options, urethane is the premium and is harder, smoother, and more resilient than virgin and non-virgin rubbers.

You’ll notice that when you drop a urethane dumbbell, it has a more solid sound than rubber. That is due to its material hardness; urethane does not give or bounce as much as rubber. As a result of this harder, plastic-like surface, urethane allows for premium logo engraving. Troy Fitness specifically offers custom logo engraving on our urethane weights (see the list below for specific models). Once a custom logo is installed, it can be cleaned with most non-chemical cleaners with no effect. ­Further, it is easy to customize with unique rubber colors.
Urethane is also UV- and water-resistant, which allows it to withstand various environments and cleaning solutions. Further, it typically has little to no odor, which is ideal for indoor facilities. Urethane’s unmatched durability and longevity make it a premium product and lead to a higher price point than rubber.
Our Troy and VTX line carry several urethane weights, each one with its own distinguished aesthetic. If you want a simpler look at a simpler price, our VTX SD-U are perfect for you. Now, if your facility demands the best of the best, look no further than our flagship Troy TSD-U.


What are the ideal facilities to use these in?

The points above all make urethane a premium option and the ideal choice for commercial and high-traffic facilities since you can use them day in and day out in all applications. Although it has a premium price, you do get what you pay for.

Urethane Weights are available in the Troy and VTX line


  • Troy 12-Sided Dumbbell, TSD-U
  • Troy Round Custom Logo Dumbbell, TSD-UTL
  • VTX Round Dumbbell, XD-U
  • VTX 8-Sided Urethane Dumbbell, SD-U


  • Troy Interlocking Plate, GO-U
  • VTX Dual Grip Plate, GO-VU


  • Troy Straight Barbell, TSB-U
  • Troy EZ Curl Barbell, TZB-U


In Closing

When making a decision on the type of weight to purchase, the most important thing to keep in mind is the context and environment of the facility as well as the frequency of use. A high-end hotel may prefer a custom logo urethane option whereas a personal trainer at a small gym might prefer the functionality of the product versus any customization. It is all dependent on the context of use.

Regardless of the type of free weight that you choose, you can rest assured that every product leaving the Troy Barbell & Fitness warehouse has undergone the same stringent standards, whether it is considered premium or entry-level.

For more information send us an inquiry.