Best Stall Bedding And Flooring Options For Horses: A Comparison

Are you considering renovating a horse stall, or building one from scratch? If yes, then you are at the right place! This article aims to help you compare some of the best stall bedding and flooring options for horses.

Certainly, if your horse is going to spend lots of time in its stall, flooring and bedding options need to be chosen carefully. This is to ensure the animal’s well-being as well as optimal leg health.

Types Of Horse Stable Floors

The moment you realize that your steed will be spending lots of time in the stable, shift your focus to identifying the best surface for horse yards. Your horse needs ample comfort underneath, thus, you need to compare different materials for horse bedding and flooring.

Fortunately, there are various options available. Moreover, these can be generalized into two major types of stable floors explained below:

Porous Material

Flooring that is made from porous materials tends to provide a better drainage system for the stable. It is constructed on a foundation of sand, clay, or gravel that aids water movement into the ground.

Impervious Materials

Non-porous, or impervious materials are more solid and facilitate well in rather sloped building floors. This in turn helps water and urine easily move out of the horse stall. A few great options include asphalt and crushed limestone.

Nonetheless, a good bedding option for horse stalls is essential for both types of flooring materials. For example, straw, newspaper, other recycled paper, as well as wood shavings all facilitate in absorbing excess moisture.

Best Stall Bedding And Flooring Materials For Horses

Choosing the right material for bedding and flooring for horses is not a difficult task anymore with a variety of options at hand. However, there are a few specs you should consider before purchasing to provide the best to your horse.

To make the process easier for you, we have listed the most popular choice of materials for horse stable flooring and bedding. Take a look, and weigh them against their pros and cons to see what suits you (and your horse) best.


Traditionally, clay is one of the most preferred materials of horse owners when it comes to flooring. Different types of clay are available locally. Pure ones are packed tightly to prevent drainage and are slick when moist. It is suggested to mix 2/3 clay with 1/3 stone dust to help the drainage process. Besides, urine can reduce compaction by softening the clay. Moreover, drips and holes are formed in the areas of frequent urination.


  • Resembles a natural tread
  • Noiseless
  • Easy on legs
  • Keeps hooves moist
  • No dust
  • Highly absorbent
  • Resists wear when compacted and dry
  • Inexpensive
  • Ensures a firm grip unless wet
  • Comparatively warm


  • Needs to be repacked and levelled on annual basis
  • Replacement is required in every few years because of the drips and holes
  • Stays wet longer than desired
  • It can retain an odor


Looking for a flooring material with the best drainage? Your search is complete! Sand is known for its excellent drainage and forgiving floor material. However, when it comes to pure sand; it easily moves to create tracks and doesn’t compact when used repeatedly. Be cautious! If your horse is used to eat off the floor, then it may get intestinal impaction or colic because of consuming sand particles. Moreover, sand can also result in dry horse hooves with splits and cracks.


  • Highly absorbent
  • Noiseless
  • Soft surface
  • Nonslip
  • Good drainage


  • Moist in a cold climate
  • Relatively difficult to clean stall
  • Drying effect on hooves
  • Horses can develop colic and other health issues due to consumption of sand particles

Grid Mats

Grid mats are another great option for stall bedding and flooring. Usually made of plastic or rubber; the mats are placed on a level floor and are layered with another flooring material, like road base, clay, or soil. They help in drainage and prevent any damage caused by pawing.

Another way is to install a 2 x 4 pressure-treated lumber set and leave a ½ to 3 inches gap between the boards for a better outcome though, the longevity of grid mats is questionable.


  • Durable
  • Remains level
  • Low maintenance
  • Uses less bedding as compare to concrete
  • Easy on legs


  • Expensive

Wood / Wood Shavings

Wood was one of the most common flooring materials used for horses in the past. However, its usage decreased with time because of the high cost. Besides, a lot of better options are available at the moment so wood is not given priority. Basically, wood is a low-maintenance flooring that helps with stall mucking. It is also great for alleviating joints and muscles stiffness by providing an insulated base to prevent cold.


  • Easy on legs
  • Durable
  • Warm to lie upon
  • Low maintenance


  • Difficult to disinfect and clean
  • Slippery when wet
  • Retains odor
  • Poor construction can result in insect and rodent damage

Crushed Limestone

Also known as limestone dust, if this material is installed properly then it can be a safe and comfortable stall flooring. The best thing about crushed limestone is that; it offers excellent drainage if placed over a bed of sand. Moreover, the material is non-slip and hard. It is suggested to start with a hard, level surface and place 4 to 5 inches of limestone for optimum results.


  • Excellent drainage
  • Comfortable and safe surface
  • Non-slip


  • It is hard as concrete, hence you need to install an additional bedding for extra comfort
  • If not installed properly, it can trouble the horse footing 

Rubber Stall Mats

Typically, rubber mats are used widely on other flooring materials to prevent slipperiness or any faults. They are durable enough to withstand heavy weights and rough usage. In fact, if you don’t want to cover the entire area with mats, there is still an option of using multiple mats in portions. Moreover, rubber stall mats are quite heavy and would require a few people to move or install. A 4′ x 6’ mat is around 100 pounds in weight.


  • Offers good footing for foaling stalls, breeding shed and recovery stalls
  • Low maintenance
  • Long life and normally available with 10-year plus warranties
  • Easy on legs
  • Easy to clean


  • Expensive
  • Not as comfortable as traditional bedding
  • May retain an odor
  • Can move unless secured or anchored by interlocking pieces or wall

If you’re interested in purchasing rubber mats, then check out our favorite ones here.

Straw or Hay

Next on the list is a traditional choice of material used as a top layer of stall floor for horses. They are easy to clean and are removable when needed. Hay or straw is quite cheap in price. In fact, if you have farms to grow your own hay or straw then it would cost even less. However, horses can get ill while feeding on their hay bedding contaminated with opossum or rat droppings. It can actually result in several infections, including myeloencephalitis.


  • Economical in price
  • Easy to clean
  • Removable when soiled
  • Comfortable to the horse footing


  • If the bedding is not replaced for a longer time, then horses may get respiratory issues
  • Not suggested for horses with allergies or breathing problems
  • May cause infections and other health hazards

Paper Products (Such As Newspaper)

Recycled paper products are introduced as a new bedding and flooring material for horses. The materials include cardboard, newspapers, and other papers. They not only offer a good cushioning for footing but are highly absorbent. Moreover, they are lightweight and easily removable when soiled.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easily available
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to remove
  • Highly absorbent
  • Comfortable to the feet


  • Can retain an odor
  • The ink of newspapers may cause reactions to some horses
  • Not able to withstand heavy weight and can be torn easily


Concrete has gained popularity because of its low maintenance and durability. It is quite easy to clean concrete flooring as compared to other materials. The great thing is; a concrete floor comes with several finishing options. However, it is suggested to avoid smooth and polished concrete surfaces that are slippery in nature to prevent any damages.


  • Low maintenance
  • Durable, long life
  • Rodent proof
  • Possible to disinfect
  • Easy to clean
  • Hard enough for the horse to damage


  • Relatively expensive
  • Hard on legs
  • Damp and cold in northern climate
  • Can discourage even normal behaviors, like lying down, etc.
  • Needs solid rubber mat or more bedding
  • Relatively expensive


Asphalt is an alternative to concrete. Their properties are pretty much similar to one another. Asphalt ensures easy cleaning and longevity. It is basically a mixture of aggregate sand and stone that is held together with the help of a tar compound. This material is thickly applied to the area to prevent chipping and cracking. Around 2-inch minimum thickness is required, when it is installed over a solid subsurface.


  • Installation is less expensive as compared to concrete
  • Provides traction
  • Longevity, but it is not as durable as concrete
  • Easy to clean


  • Cold and hard, but better than concrete
  • Relatively expensive
  • Surface irregularities can create sanitation problems by trapping urine
  • It can crack or chip if installed too thin

FAQs About Horse Stall Bedding Options

Whether it is stable flooring or horse stall bedding, selecting the right material is vital. Here are a few FAQs that can help you pick better:

What are the characteristics of an ideal horse stall flooring?

Typically, stable floor and bedding should be dry, retain less odor, decrease strain on horse feet and tendon, and offer good traction for the horse to lie down or sit up. It should also be damage-resistant, low maintenance, and easily washable.

What is the best flooring for horse stalls?

Impervious flooring materials like concrete are highly preferable for stables due to their durability and ease of cleaning, and good drainage. Though the floor can get slippery at times, you can place horse stall mats on top for increasing support. Besides, concrete is odorless unlike flooring made from soil or clay.

What can you use for the best horse stall bedding?

Wood shavings, sawdust, paper products, and straw are the most commonly used materials for horse stable bedding. This is because each of these materials provides a considerable amount of cushioning for the equine to enjoy.

How do you make a horse stall floor?

When constructing horse stable flooring, you can get hold of small gravel of approximately 1/8 inch. Soak it well once you have placed it on the floor to make it compact. Not only are materials like gravel, limestone, and granite easy to work with, they aid in drainage and can also tolerate extreme weather conditions.

How do I make my horse stall drain better?

Horse stall flooring that is made of soil or sand can naturally drain out excess water. On the contrary, concrete flooring calls for the addition of a thick layer of gravel on top. Make sure to compact it well so that it returns to the original level. On this surface, add a layer of horse stall mats such as rubber or polyethylene resin to better drain the horse stall.

Can horse stalls have concrete floors?

Yes. As a matter of fact, concrete flooring is one of the best surfaces for horse stalls. However, covering the concrete with rubber mats or other horse bedding materials is essential to prevent any sort of discomfort.

Can horse stall mats replace the need for horse stall bedding?

Horse stall mats, especially rubber ones, are indeed a must-have feature for horse stables. Whether the horse stall floor is made from concrete or clay, rubber mats facilitate better drainage. In addition, the mats also provide a durable, soft, and comfortable surface for the horses to stand or lie on. Hence, it will not be wrong to say that horse stall mats can also serve as an alternative to horse stall bedding.


Horse stall floor preparation calls for some serious hunting for the best horse bedding and flooring.

Luckily, there are not one but many suitable stable flooring options that you can choose from. However, not one single material consists of all attributes of an ideal floor. Depending on your budget and requirement, you might have to combine two or more options for the best result.

Also, straw is a widely known choice for horse stall bedding as it is conveniently available, super affordable, and easy to dispose of off when soiled. Above all, it is extremely comfortable.

All in all, selecting from the best stall bedding and flooring options available is bound to improve your horse’s foot health and overall well-being in the long run.