It is generally accepted that there is a marked difference between domestic and commercial carpeting. To no less an extent is there a considerable difference between commercial mats depending on the traffic that matting is expected to accept. The consequence of choosing the wrong matting shows up in the very expensive cost of constantly having to replace low-quality matting in high traffic areas.

It is an unfortunate truism that matting quality is not easily determined simply by its look or even by its feel and the result is that too often poor quality matting designed for low traffic volumes is placed in high traffic areas.

There are a number of reasons for such a failing but as often as not it is the result of passing off poor quality matting as better priced high quality material. The better price of the cheaper matting, however small the difference, may well be the deciding factor. An automatic decision to buy cheap matting is not a good judgment to make and so often ends up being an expensive decision.

Just like all carpeting, the quality of carpet-faced commercial matting is a product of the weight of fibre used.   In recent times, in an attempt to maintain low prices in the face of the escalating cost of oil-based plastic fibres such as nylon or polypropylene, manufacturers and suppliers have taken to offering lower and lower weight of carpet fibre disguised in a very loosely punched pattern. The consequence is that 18 oz to 22 oz carpet-face is sold into areas where seriously high traffic is the norm

The fact is that anything from 40 oz to 60 oz carpet face is available for really high traffic areas such as shopping centres or airports and they should be specified. In addition such matting is invariably tightly punched so that there is great resistance to traffic patterns as well as ensuring far longer life in the presence of heavy traffic.

Even in medium traffic areas at the very least 24 oz should be specified. Anything less can be a seriously poor investment as a result of the short life of the matting. When considering cost it should be noted that a mat with double or more carpet fibre by weight than a carpet face of, say, 24 ozs per sq yard costs only about 20% more. The better matting ensures a life of, as much as, double that of the lighter weight matting. So cheap matting is clearly a false economy in such areas.

High Impact Backing

Another necessity is the use of high-impact backing, usually good quality vinyl or rubber.

The force of a shoe heel of an average weight person striking an entrance mat is gigantic. In addition to the quality of the carpet face, the backing needs to be able to resist cracking or breaking down under such pressure. Worst of all scenarios is the use of carpet-face without backing, for all the force of the heel strike is taken up by the carpet face itself and this is exacerbated when such carpet is placed on the typical hard surfaces such as terrazzo or other stone floors that are the norm in public building entrances.

Size is all important

It is a fact that it requires as much as 10m of entrance matting to remove 99% of dirt from shoes. Since 70% to 80% of all dirt, dust and grime in public buildings is tracked in from outside and spread through the floors of the building, protection of the floor itself with an appropriate size of mat becomes an essential if floor maintenance costs are to be prevented from escalating dramatically.

As an example of the effect of not having a mat or even having an undersized mat at an entrance, it takes only 1500 people entering a building where there is not a mat to remove 42% of the polish and reduce the gloss by 24%. The consequence of that is clearly the expense of an increased cost of floor maintenance. Considering that even having as much as 3m of matting in the entrance will remove only 50% of the dirt off shoes, the size of the mat used becomes very important.

Even the edging used counts

 Even the use of quality edging has a bearing on the effectiveness and life of the mat. So often poor edging is used where wheeled traffic tears such edging to pieces relatively quickly. At no extra expense, seriously heavy duty edging is available and should be specified where heavy traffic is expected. This is particularly important in sites such as shopping centres or supermarkets where shopping trolleys play havoc with poor quality edging.

Edging itself is an obvious essential to prevent trips and falls. However, the further the edging reaches out from the edge of the mat, the lower the angle of the slope, the less the possibilities of trips and, as a bonus, the easier to push a trolley onto the matting. 40mm edging with almost double the thickness compared to standard 25mm edging is a real necessity.

Most importantly it is invaluable to have options available so that all circumstances can be taken into account when a choice is being made. The wider the range available the better the chance of making the right decision. Its not just about patterns and colours. Its about being able to choose the best mat for the specific environment and site.