Best Rubber Mallets

Updated October 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

29 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
198 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best rubber mallets

Last Updated October 2019

A basic rubber mallet is a staple found in many toolboxes. While you'll often see them in the hands of someone laying pavement, they're also used by carpenters, auto body engineers, and even jewelers.

The rubber mallet has evolved into a variety of forms in order to provide the best tool for the various trade workers who use them. In the following rubber mallet buying guide, we take a look at mallet construction in greater detail so you will have an easier time choosing one for yourself.

We also offer specific product recommendations for consumers who want to spend less time researching and more time with their tools.

Many people find a rubber mallet easier to control than a steel hammer. A rubber mallet provides more feedback, so it's much easier to vary your impact based on the task at hand.

Why use a rubber mallet?

A steel hammer wields a lot of power, but that can be a problem if the surface you're striking is fragile and likely to crack or split. For example, tile and laminate flooring could easily break under the pressure of a steel hammer. It is also not ideal if the surface you’re hitting is likely to mar with impact, as with wood and sheet metal.

In these cases, a rubber mallet is a better choice. The head of a rubber mallet usually has significantly larger striking area than a hammer, so while it still has plenty of force, that force is spread over a larger area.

Choosing a rubber mallet

A rubber mallet is not a complicated tool, but you still have choices to make when it comes to the head and handle.

Rubber mallet heads

The standard rubber mallet head is simply a molded lump of black rubber or synthetic rubber. These mallets are available in a variety of weights, from a few ounces to several pounds.

The drawback with black rubber is that it can mark some surfaces. As such, you will commonly see rubber mallets that are half black and half white. Some rubber mallets are completely white. (You might ask why they don't just make all rubber mallets white. The answer is that the white material, though similar in performance terms, is more expensive.)

The main disadvantage of a solid rubber mallet is bounce-back. It's uncomfortable and potentially dangerous if you hit something with a lot of force. If it keeps on happening, it could cause a type of repetitive strain injury.

Reducing the bounce is done in a number of ways:

  • Some manufacturers change the composition of the rubber.

  • Some manufacturers use a forged steel head with rubber caps or tips. This offers arguably the best compromise between a hammer and a mallet, though the additional weight can restrict the head size. Also, having three components makes these tools slightly more expensive.

  • The ultimate bounce reduction comes from what are called “dead -blow” tools. The heads are actually hollow and partially filled with steel shot or another fluid material. As you strike, the content surges to the front, acting as a shock absorber. As a result, there is virtually no bounce.
     

While dead-blow hammers are advantageous in demolition and other situations where a lot of force is needed, many tradespeople prefer a degree of bounce to give them feedback — especially when a light tap or series of taps is required to set something in place.

Rubber mallet handles

Rubber mallet handles are made of wood, fiberglass, or steel.

  • Wooden handles (usually hickory or ash) are inexpensive, and most people like the way they feel in the hand. These handles naturally absorb some of the shock of impact and are easily replaced if damaged.

  • There are a couple of negatives. Fluctuations in humidity make wood expand and shrink. This can eventually lead to the head working loose, in which case the handle would need to be changed. Also, these handles also not very durable — especially if they get wet. (Notably, a wooden handle with a polyurethane coating will be slightly more durable.)

  • Fiberglass handles are lightweight and have tremendous strength. What’s more, fiberglass resists many of the chemicals that would harm a wooden handle. There's little difference in price, too, which is why many consumers are leaning toward fiberglass nowadays. The only disadvantage is that if a fiberglass handle does break (not common, but it does happen), you would likely need to buy an entirely new mallet.

  • Steel handles are all but unbreakable. They cost little more than wooden ones, so you would expect them to be really popular. They aren't. In our view, the problem is that they flex under impact, exaggerating any bounce in the head. If you’re worried about breaking a wooden or fiberglass handle, a rubber mallet with a steel handle could be right for you, but the majority of rubber mallets — even dead-blow tools — use either wood or fiberglass.
     

There is one further type of rubber mallet construction: all-in-one molded models. Usually dead-blow, the head and handle are entirely encased in a polyurethane shell. The result is very durable. Though sometimes these handles aren't very comfortable, it's seldom a problem because users would normally be wearing work gloves with this kind of tool.

One final consideration is handle length. The longer the handle, the more force you can generate.

EXPERT TIP

A fiberglass handle is generally more durable than a wooden handle. If damaged, however, a fiberglass handle often cannot be replaced. Instead, you’d have to buy a new mallet.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Cheap rubber mallets transmit the vibration of impact up through your arm. Eventually, this gets tiring and painful. A high-quality rubber mallet does a better job of insulating you from that effect.


Staff  | BestReviews

Rubber mallet prices

We often shy away from recommending the cheapest tools because of durability issues, but with perfectly good basic rubber mallets available for around $5, there's no excuse not to add one to your tool kit. Having said that, we normally recommend spending a little more to get a quality tool from a trusted brand.

As mentioned, there is little if any difference between the price of a wooden handle mallet and the price of a fiberglass handle mallet. Prices do rise a little when you have a mallet head made of two materials or a forged head with rubber or synthetic rubber caps. However, they are still very affordable, with most costing between $20 and $35.

At the top end of the scale, you'll find enormous six-pound dead-blow models for under $70, so even the biggest and best rubber mallets won't break the bank.

DID YOU KNOW?

The toughest rubber mallets have steel handles completely encased in a synthetic rubber coating. They are extremely resilient to damage.

Tips

  • Holding your mallet high up the shaft, close to the head, might seem safe, but it actually restricts your striking power and also your control. This form is called “choking”; it’s not balanced properly. Instead, use a firm but relaxed grip in the middle of the handle.

  • A rubber mallet might be soft compared to a steel hammer, but it can still deliver a great deal of force. Whatever you hit could break or shatter, so always wear protective glasses or goggles.

  • Accurate striking takes practice. The trick is to focus on the object you're hitting, not on the mallet head.

Other products we considered

The Coleman Rubber Mallet is a basic, low-cost tool with a useful little twist that will appeal to campers: at the end of the handle, there's a hook for tent peg removal. Can't decide which is the right size rubber mallet? The Tekton 30508 3-Piece Rubber Mallet Set is the answer. This set of three mallets — eight ounces, 16 ounces, and 32 ounces — gives you all the choice you need, and the cost is noticeably less than it would be if you were to buy them separately.

One often-overlooked advantage a rubber mallet wields over steel is that it can frequently be used in situations where sparks would be dangerous.

FAQ

Q. What's the difference between a mallet and a hammer?

A. Generally speaking, a mallet is made of rubber, wood, or occasionally leather. It has two striking faces, which may be of the same or different materials. A hammer is made of metal (usually steel) and typically has one striking face and another tool opposite it. For example, a hammer may have a split pry for removing nails.

Q. Can I use a rubber mallet in place of a wooden one?

A. It depends on the task. A wooden mallet is usually used to hit a wood chisel or to knock together or open up joints. A rubber mallet can be used for the latter, but if you try to use it with a chisel, the weight and feel is wrong.

Different types of mallets aren't really interchangeable. As with any task, you'll enjoy more success if you choose the right tool from the start.

Q. Is there an easy way to prevent a black rubber mallet from marking the surface it hits?

A. The easiest thing to do is use a white rubber mallet! However, assuming all you have is a black one, try wrapping the head in a piece of light-colored material, such as a soft cloth or a strip from an old t-shirt.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey