We often find a lot of young people don’t know much about the origins of rubber, where is comes from, how it is made.

We will soon have a list of questions and answers here but please feel free to contact us and ask us a question.

Go to our other website Dalsouple to see the FAQ page there.

  • Q1 – I hear there are 2 types of rubber flooring. SBR and natural. What’s the difference please?
  • Q2 – How do I remove scuff marks from a rubber floor?

I hear there are 2 types of rubber flooring. SBR and natural. What’s the difference please?

Well since you asked politely… here it goes…:)


Most people think rubber flooring is made from rubber but actually nearly all rubber flooring on the market today in Australia is made from SBR, ‘industrial’ or synthetic rubber. Synthetic rubber is made by man from petrochemical feedstocks. Crude oil is the principal raw material.

Density of SBR rubber

Improvements in manufacture or lack thereof result in different quality of SBR on the market. Our manufacturers Roppe and Dalsouple for example use 18kg rollers in manufacture that compresses the rubber in fabrication – making it denser and ultimately more resistant to scratching.

Other less well known fabricators use 5kg rollers in manufacture so that the product produced is more subjective to damage and scratching.

Natural rubber comes from trees in the form of latex. The most important source of natural rubber is the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). Hevea, the rubber-tree, has been called ‘The green rubber factory’. It uses the sun as a renewable energy source with CO2. The by-products of Hevea are ‘biodegradable’ and rubber itself is ‘recyclable’ several times. Tapping begins when trees are about seven years old. The bark on the trunk is cut, severing latex vessels. It is best done 25degrees to 30 degrees angle. Each time a tree is tapped, a channel is prepared along which the latex flows. This method avoids wounding trees. Hevea grows to around 25m tall and has a life span of about 30 years. Plantation trees are planted to a density of up to 500 trees per hectare. Rubber trees are efficient at sequestering (extracting) more CO2 from the atmosphere than linoleum and PVC. Rubber has low toxicity particularly compared to PVC based flooring. Floor coverings that do not contain any PVC also guarantee that no hydrochloric acid, dioxins and furans are generated.

Recent developments have seen natural rubber flooring back on the market. These are supplemented by raw mineral materials extracted from natural deposits and by environmentally compatible color pigments Improvements in manufacturing allow a natural rubber floor to have the same consistent quality and performance as the synthetic alternative. Natural rubber flooring is warm and soft underfoot, is tough, anti-slip, and burn resistant. It has excellent noise absorption properties and is dust-free hygienic and easy to maintain.

Deciding to use a sustainable product such as natural rubber flooring in both commercial and residential buildings requires looking at many aspects, reducing the need for maintenance, making sure the products can be recycled at the end of their life, environmentally responsible manufacturing,  ‘The triple bottom line’ is a term being used when considering ‘green’ products.

Be aware though, that latex both with touch and smell may affect some of the general public that have specific allergies to rubber. This should be a consideration whilst specifying.

In the early 1940’s all rubber production used natural rubber. By the 1960’s most companies moved into production of synthetic rubber alternatives. SBR was cheaper, easier to process and offered more consistency and infirmity of colour. Natural and synthetic rubbers in the crude state possess a number of physical properties which must be modified to obtain useful end products. The synthetic rubber is usually compounded and vulcanized into products.

Synthetic rubber has its origin in two gases: butadiene, a by-product of petroleum refining, and styrene, captured either in the coking process or as a petroleum refining by-product. When the two are mixed in the presence of soapsuds in a reactor, liquid latex results.

*Approximately 70% of all rubber used is synthetic.

 There are approximately twenty different chemical types of synthetic rubber, and within each type there are many distinguishable grades. The different types of rubber, each with its own properties and advantages, allow industry to choose the rubber that most clearly meets the demands of an intended use.

It takes about seven gallons of oil to produce a tyre. Five gallons are used as feedstock (from which the substances that combine to form synthetic rubber are derived), while two gallons supply the energy necessary for the manufacturing process. Non-tyre products use nearly 40% of all rubber consumed in the U.S.

Natural recycled rubber. The lower oil content in natural rubber lasts much longer than synthetic rubber flooring.

How do I remove scuff marks from a rubber floor?

The best way to eliminate scuff marks from flooring is -believe it or not- use a tennis ball to “erase” the marks.

Here’s a great link: http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-remove-scuff-marks-from-flooring/#Rubbervs.Rubber

Of course. what the article doesn’t mention is to use a debris removal mat at entry points. This will help to reduce surface scratching too.

Often WD-40 can “hide” fine scratch marks by altering the reflectivity of light.