Bumper plates, with their rubber coating and steel inner core, are durable and versatile. While they can withstand harsh weather, it’s best to store them inside to extend their lifespan.
With proper care and high-quality plates, you can keep them in good condition for up to 20 years.
In this article, we’ll cover bumper plate care and ideal storage conditions.
Can you leave your bumper plates outside?
Yes, you can leave rubber-coated bumper plates outside, but it isn’t ideal for the longevity of the weights.
Many people enjoy working out in an outdoor gym, whether at home or in a public setting.
However, weights, benches, and racks cannot easily be moved in and out every day, so they must be properly maintained in order to keep them in good condition if they are going to remain outside.
Should your bumper plates be left outside?
Although bumper plates are incredibly durable for their intended use, leaving them outside is not ideal. Changes in temperature, sunlight, and precipitation take a massive toll on the rubber and exposed metal, aging them faster than they usually would.
If you have the means to store them indoors, that’s where they should be when not in use.
What happens to your plates if you leave them outside?
Unlike standard-weight plates, bumper plates don’t pose as much of a risk for rusting. However, the rubber body/coating expands and shrinks with the temperature, which can lead to cracks. And you still have to watch out for rust on the inner ring (the part of the weight that slides onto the bar sleeve).
Fading is another concern for bumper plates that stay outside. Direct sunlight will noticeably fade any color, but especially darker colors.
Between virgin rubber bumper plates and urethane, rubber bumper plats are more affordable, while urethane is more durable. If you can afford urethane-coated bumper-weight plates, they stand a better chance of surviving.
Maintaining bumper plates left outside
If you plan to keep your bumper plates outside, you must take a few precautions. Here are a few suggestions.
- Clean them regularly and spray the rubber with a UV protectant.
- Cover your bumper plates and other pieces of equipment. This could be as simple as putting a rubber tote or metal trash can over them.
- At the very least, you want to shade your bumper plates from direct sunlight, especially during the summer.
Rust and UV Damage Prevention
There are two parts of your bumper plates that need special care: the rubber coating and the inner ring.
To prevent the rubber coating from getting brittle and faded, you must spray it with a UV protectant, as previously stated, or store your bumper plates under a shade or roof.
Protecting the inner ring is a little different. This exposed iron or steel will be highly prone to rust. Rain is an obvious consideration, but nightly dew is also an ongoing problem. You can apply a spray rust inhibitor to the inner ring to prevent rust damage.
A one-time solution for rust and UV damage prevention is putting a roof over your outdoor gym. Your weights are protected in a garage (garage gym) or open basement, but if they are exposed to the elements at all times, just a roof or canopy can help.
How long will bumper plates last outside?
Bumper plates will last several years under virtually any conditions. But outside, exposed to the elements daily, they will start to show wear, rust, and fade after just a couple of years.
In the best outdoor scenario, where they are regularly cared for and under a roof or shade, you can expect your bumper plates to last at least 10 years.
Bumper Plate Storage: The best way to store bumper plates outside
If you will keep your gym equipment outside, there are a few do’s and don’ts to abide by.
- Stack your weights horizontally. Stacking them on top of one another is bound to trap moisture between the weights.
- Lay them flat on the ground, even on concrete. If the bumper plates stay in one place too long, they will fade on one side faster than the other, and they can become a safe haven for pests.
- Use a weight plate tree to hang weights at an angle, so water runs off.
- Install a wall-mounted bike rack with holes perfectly sized to fit your weights.
- Utilize the squat rack pegs if you have one.
- Purchase a heavy-duty deck box or build one. Just be sure to check the weight limit first!
What you need to know about cleaning bumper plates
The rubber-covered exterior may look fine, but the inner ring will take the brunt of the abuse, so this area must be checked often. With Bar keeper’s Friend or any other well-known metal cleaner, you can clean this small amount of rust exposure.
Basic Cleaning Method
Before applying any cleaning solution, you must be sure what material your outer coating is made of. Soap and water should be enough to remove dirt and oil from the rubber coating.
Rather than spraying excess amounts of water on the weights, wipe them with a soapy cloth and remove soap residue with another cloth.
While it may not be ideal, storing bumper plates outside is possible with attentive care and proper maintenance routines.
If you decide that an outdoor gym is right for you, follow the suggestions above, and you’ll have no issues keeping your bumper plates looking good for years to come.