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PVC Vs Rubber Vs Urethane Dumbbells | Dumbbell Buying Guide

Rubber dumbbells are a suitable option for both home and commercial gyms because of their robustness, high weight capacity, and knurled grips. While PVC is best suited for beginners and those on a budget, urethane dumbbells are appropriate for professional bodybuilders. 

PVC vs Rubber vs Urethane Dumbbells

Dumbbells are virtually indestructible pieces of fitness equipment unless you own one made of flimsy metal or plastic. 

Nowadays, PVC, rubber, and urethane dumbbells are sought-after options among gym-goers and bodybuilders. This begs the question: which one of the three should you opt for? 

In this guide, I’ll discuss each of the three types of dumbbells in-depth, so you won’t have to debate. So, let’s get straight to the deets! 

PVC Dumbbells 

PVC Dumbbells

Also known as vinyl dumbbells, PVC dumbbells are crafted of either concrete or sand, which are later finished with a type of synthetic plastic known as polyvinyl chloride. At times, these dumbbells are made entirely of PVC. Thanks to the hexagonal shape, these dumbbells don’t roll off flat surfaces.

Available in a variety of bright colors, PVC dumbbells are often recommended for beginners. As against other dumbbells, they are easy on the pockets. So, whether you’re a beginner or a gym owner looking for affordable dumbbells, you must consider adding PVC dumbbells to your gym equipment. 

Since these dumbbells are coated with polyvinyl chloride, they are easy to clean. Therefore, if you’re a gym owner, all you’ll have to do is spray a disinfectant and wipe it with a cloth after every session.

As for durability, PVC dumbbells don’t last long because they sustain damage after regular wear and tear. 

Furthermore, these dumbbells aren’t sturdy enough to withstand accidental drops. That means the exterior materials used in their construction are fragile, which fails to protect the core of the equipment, so they tend to break if dropped. 

On top of that, strenuous exercises and excessive sweat can make them slippery, which can cause accidents. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that they aren’t supplied in heavier weights; hence, they are ideal for only basic cardio or weight training. The maximum weight capacity of vinyl dumbbells is 15 lbs to 20 lbs, which might be a bummer for serious lifters. 

Rubber Dumbbells

Coming with metal handles, fixed rubber dumbbells are supplied in various weights, which makes them usable in both commercial and home gyms. 

Rubber dumbbells are also available in hex-style options, known as rubber hex dumbbells. It is because of this hex style that rubber dumbbells are easy to store. Not just that, but this hex-style design prevents the dumbbells from rolling off flat surfaces. So you can rest assured that they won’t damage the flooring. 

While rubber dumbbells are known for versatility, durability, and ergonomics, the brand you buy from will determine how pleasant your workout sessions will be. A few companies use recycled rubber to manufacture their dumbbells. 

Compared to natural rubber dumbbells, those made out of recycled rubbers lack in quality and aren’t sturdy. Therefore, whatever money you spend on these dumbbells is wasted because they neither contribute to a pleasant experience nor last long. 

For this reason, you must always go for virgin rubber dumbbells, meaning the ones that are made from rubber drawn out from trees. 

With fixed rubber dumbbells, you can perform exercises like renegade rows and devil’s presses by holding onto them like you would do in a plank position, thanks to the flat edges. The knurled handles ensure a better grip, preventing the dumbbells from slipping. 

In terms of durability, rubber hex dumbbells are highly durable, unlike PVC dumbbells, because they are made of thick rubber. Only the handles rust over time because they are constructed of metal, just like other regular rubber gym equipment. However, this can be prevented by storing them in dry places and wiping your sweat after working out. 

Unlike dial-adjustable dumbbells, rubber dumbbells won’t break easily, even if they are dropped on a hard surface. Bear in mind that these heavy dumbbells come with a premium price. 

Urethane Dumbbells

Like chrome dumbbells, urethane dumbbells are coated with urethane, a shock-absorbent material, so these dumbbells are stronger than rubber products. That means fixed urethane dumbbells, also known as polyurethane dumbbells, are high in durability and won’t break if dropped accidentally. 

With urethane dumbbells, you can work out outdoors or store them in your garage shed because they don’t wear down even after getting exposed to moisture or sunlight. 

Unlike rubber dumbbells, urethane dumbbells don’t emit foul odors, so it’s an option worth considering for those sensitive to smells. Besides disinfectants, you can use harsh cleaners to wipe away impurities from these dumbbells– this is particularly beneficial for gym owners. 

Urethane dumbbells are supplied in heavier weights, as against most other fixed dumbbells. A few companies offer these dumbbells in weights up to 200 lbs, which would be best suited for professional bodybuilders. 

As they come with round heads, storing them might be a challenge because they roll off the shelf. Not just that, but these round dumbbells also get in the way during workout sessions by rolling around in case you leave them on the ground. 

Like rubber dumbbells, you’ll have to spend a tad bit to bring home a pair of urethane dumbbells because they are expensive. 

PVC Vs Rubber Vs Urethane Dumbbells– Detailed Comparison

PVC Vs Rubber Vs Urethane Dumbbells– Detailed Comparison

Now that I’ve covered the basics of PVC, rubber, and urethane dumbbells, let’s move on to compare the three types of dumbbells in detail. This in-depth comparison will help you decide which dumbbell is right for your commercial gym or personal workout sessions. 

1. Endurance

Of all three materials, urethane is a cut above the rest because it withstands wear and tear well. So understandably, urethane dumbbells are more capable of enduring pressure that results from high-intensity interval training than PVC and rubber dumbbells. 

Besides, these dumbbells are designed to resist all types of weather, which makes them usable outdoors. That means they aren’t much affected by the blazing sun or heavy downpours. 

Also, they don’t display cosmetic wear and tear as much as rubber dumbbells because of their abrasion resistance.  

Urethane dumbbells are followed by rubber ones in terms of durability because of their impact resistance. Note that only good-quality virgin rubber dumbbells will be a good choice for intense training because those made of recycled rubber wear out quickly. Both urethane and rubber dumbbells are also resistant to damage caused by moisture, including sweat. 

Meanwhile, you mustn’t opt for PVC dumbbells if durability is your priority because they cannot endure much pressure like rubber and urethane dumbbells. And if you drop them on hard surfaces, they will crack, which would make them unusable. However, they are a dependable option for beginners whose motive is to use dumbbells for basic weight training. 

2. Odor

Both PVC and urethane dumbbells don’t emit much odor, so anyone sensitive to smells can go for any of the two without worries. 

But as mentioned above, rubber dumbbells give off a slight odor like other rubber products, especially if you buy those made of recycled rubber. Mostly, recycled rubber dumbbells emit a tire-like odor that is unpleasant, but it fades with time, so you’ll have to be patient while using them.

Usually, dumbbells that release a distinctive smell are made of inferior quality; therefore, you must always choose virgin rubber dumbbells sold by reputable brands. This way, neither will your money be wasted nor will you have to deal with unpleasant odors. 

3. Comfort And Safety

Whether you work out twice a week or twice a day, comfort is one factor you cannot ignore when it comes to gym equipment. Now, comfort is subjective– whichever dumbbell may appear comfortable to your trainer may be discomforting for you. 

However, speaking from experience, rubber hex dumbbells are more comfortable than the other two options because they come with a non-grip textured surface. Conversely, PVC hex dumbbells are quite slippery, which exposes users to the risk of dumbbell accidents. You must note that PVC dumbbells are prone to slipping, so they are likely to damage the flooring of your gym.

On the flip side, urethane dumbbells come mostly in round shape and rarely in hex style. Though most of them come with anti-slip knurled handles, they slip if you hold them between your sweaty palms for too long. 

After all, you wouldn’t want to drop the dumbbell on your feet while working out– would you? So, going for rubber dumbbells would be wise for every type of gym goer. 

4. Look And Feel

Again, urethane dumbbells are better in appearance than rubber and PVC dumbbells. That’s mainly because urethane is a colorless substance and aesthetically pleasing, so understandably, the dumbbells made from it are better in appearance. 

On top of that, these dumbbells are resistant to scraping or abrading, so they don’t show signs of cosmetic wear and tear. 

Only rubber dumbbells made of good-grade virgin rubber are aesthetically pleasing, while those crafted of recycled rubber appear inelegant. While they display the signs of cosmetic scuffing, it shouldn’t be much of a deal for those who work out in their homes. 

Also, they are available in tons of textures, so you can choose the right one after scouring all the options. Meanwhile, PVC dumbbells come with color coding that helps beginners memorize their set weights; but they can get bulky. 

5. Coating Thickness

The thickness of the coating determines the quality of the dumbbell, which is a factor that no bodybuilder must ignore. 

Again, professional-grade urethane dumbbells are superior to rubber and PVC dumbbells in terms of coating thickness. Speaking of rubber dumbbells, the thickness of the coating depends on whether you opt for dumbbells made of recycled rubber or virgin rubber. 

Dumbbells of virgin rubber boast a thick coating, especially the ones that come in hex-style design. Bear in mind that the more you pay for rubber dumbbells, the better you get, so shop mindfully. 

In regard to PVC dumbbells, coating thickness doesn’t matter much because the material used is of inferior quality. So, no matter how thick the coating is, the dumbbell will ultimately crack if it falls on a hard surface. 

6. Price

In comparison to rubber and urethane dumbbells, PVC dumbbells are the most inexpensive ones that you’ll come across on the market. 

These dumbbells are a reliable option if you’re hunting for something to work out with at your home gym. In short, they are affordable entry-level equipment, so anyone starting their fitness journey would find them useful. 

Rubber dumbbells are worth considering if you’re looking for dumbbells that offer excellent value for money. That’s because they are made from higher-quality virgin rubber, so they can take a beating. 

On the other hand, urethane dumbbells are the most expensive ones that are available on the market because they are crafted using the highest-quality materials. They are even aesthetically pleasing and don’t exhibit signs of wear and tear; however, you must opt for them only if they are within your means. 

Otherwise, simply go for rubber dumbbells because they offer excellent value for money. Note that this applies to good-quality virgin dumbbells only, not the ones of inferior quality. No matter what people say, recycled dumbbells aren’t worth their price tag. 

Other Types Of Dumbbells Worth Considering For Your Home Gym

Other Types Of Dumbbells Worth Considering For Your Home Gym

Still unable to decide which dumbbell you should opt for to kickstart your weight-loss or muscle-building journey? Here I have mentioned two fixed hex dumbbells that will help you meet your fitness goals. Let’s check them out. 

1. Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells

Like other hex dumbbells, cast iron hex dumbbells are hexagonal; however, their heads aren’t covered with rubber. 

Since only one material is used in the construction of a cast iron hex dumbbell, they are available at a nominal price. Furthermore, cast iron hex dumbbells won’t roll off flat surfaces, thanks to the hexagonal design. Therefore, you can place them on bookshelves, storage racks, or tables without worrying about damaging your gym floor. 

They are also a good option for people who are sensitive to certain materials like vinyl. 

One of the significant downsides is that they don’t come with knurled handles that ensure better grip. However, the absence of knurling on the handles prevents calluses from developing on the user’s hands. For people who sweat a lot, cast iron hex dumbbells won’t be a good choice because the smooth handle makes them slippery. 

Also, keep in mind that cast iron dumbbells aren’t rust-resistant, so exposure to moisture will cause them to rust. As for those coated with enamel, the coating wears off or chips after heavy-duty use. 

The weight limit for these dumbbells is 80 lbs, making them a suitable option for beginners. 

2. Neoprene Dumbbells

As the name suggests, neoprene dumbbells come with a cast iron core and are coated with neoprene. Much like cast iron dumbbells, they are sold in lighter weights, which makes them a suitable choice for HIIT workouts or group class settings. 

The majority of neoprene dumbbells are hexagonal in shape, which allows for easy storage because they won’t roll down the surface. Hence, you can store them on a flat shelf or leave them in any corner of your gym. 

Unlike most dumbbells, they don’t come with a knurled grip, but even then, they are comfortable, so holding them for long periods won’t be an issue. 

In contrast to cast iron dumbbells, these dumbbells don’t rust, thanks to the neoprene coating. No matter how much you sweat, your sweat won’t come in contact with cast iron. So, they can be used outdoors, and you can also store them in your garage or tool shed. 

Although neoprene dumbbells don’t break if dropped on a soft surface from a short distance, they get damaged upon falling onto hard surfaces from significant heights. Hence, you need to be careful when using them. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that they are available in lighter weights up to 20 lbs. This means that these dumbbells aren’t meant for serious weight lifters but are suitable for beginners looking for a pair of hex dumbbells for basic training. Besides, they can be used by individuals in rehab. 

PVC Vs Rubber Vs Urethane Dumbbells FAQs

  • Are urethane dumbbells safe to use?

    Urethane dumbbells, made from the man-made material urethane, are well-known for their toxicity. However, urethane dumbbells aren’t toxic; rather, they are completely safe to use. And since they withstand wear and tear better than other dumbbells, many gym owners prefer using them in their commercial gyms. 

  • Which types of dumbbells are best for beginners?

    Among the three types of dumbbells, PVC dumbbells are suitable for beginners because they are available in lighter weights. That makes them suitable for people looking for dumbbells without spending a ton. 

    Nevertheless, if you’re planning to stick to your workout plan for long, you must opt for rubber dumbbells. They are available in heavier weights and last longer than PVC, making them an excellent value-for-money product. 

  • Fixed dumbbells vs adjustable dumbbells– which one would be suitable for home gyms?

    Fixed dumbbells come with fixed weights, meaning their weight limit cannot be changed no matter what. Either they come with rubber weights, urethane weights, or PVC weights. 

    Conversely, adjustable dumbbells are made of metal and come with adjustable weights. Seasoned bodybuilders can change weights as per their needs and routines. 

    Homeowners must opt for fixed dumbbells because they won’t damage the smooth surface of your gym flooring like adjustable dumbbells. 

  • PVC Vs Rubber Vs Urethane Dumbbells Final Thoughts

    PVC Vs Rubber Vs Urethane Dumbbells Final Thoughts

    So, which of the three dumbbells is the right pick for your fitness journey?

    Honestly, the answer is subjective because it ultimately boils down to your preference and needs. In terms of quality, durability, and weight capacity, urethane dumbbells have the edge over rubber and PVC dumbbells, but they are pricey. 

    But if you are a gym enthusiast committed to maximizing your muscle pumps, rubber dumbbells will help you meet your goals. Not only are they available in heavier weights, but they are also tear-resistant.  

    In my opinion, you must opt for PVC dumbbells if you’re a beginner or on a tight budget. Since they are affordable, they are usable in both home and garage gyms, and you can even order multiple pairs and store them for future use. 

    No matter which dumbbell you choose, I wish you good luck and happy gains!

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