When Should You Use A Chair Mat In The Office? Protecting Your Floorcoverings

The top of my garden has a lawn with each side connecting to neighboring gardens. There is a narrow diagonal track across the lawn where the grass is permanently flattened and this damage is caused by a fox. It uses my garden as a run and always walks along the same route. You would never imagine that a fox could cause this by doing no more than walking over the same length of lawn everyday.

Office chairs can be a bit like the fox and cause similar damage to your flooring and that’s where a chair mat can often help.

In this article we’re going to look at 3 key points about chair mats:

  1. What is a chair mat?
  2. When should you use a chair mat?
  3. What sorts of chair mats are best?

Let’s begin by answering the question is what chair mat?

bamboo mat

Bamboo Mat

Simply put, a chair mat is a means of protecting your office floorcovering. It acts as a barrier between the wheels of your office chair and floor to spread the load more evenly, preventing damage.

Depending on the type of chair mat used it can also enhance the appearance of your office, but more on that later let’s first look at when you might need one.

When should you use a chair mat?
The humble office chair puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your floorcovering. This is hardly surprising as all your weight is concentrated onto 5 small wheels, which frequently move across the floor throughout the day.

All this can quickly damage even quite tough carpets and tiles over a period of time. It is especially true where you have a wood floor finish, the destructive action of your chair’s wheels can literally tear up the top surface of the wood.

In the case of vinyl flooring it often leads to scoring and grooves appearing on the surface quite quickly. Just like the fox, you tend to move back and forth over the same section of floor throughout the day.

All in all swivel chairs can be very destructive unless you take action and use a chair mat to act as a form of load spreader, forming a protective layer. Chair mats come in a number of different forms, each intended to offer specific protection.

What is the best type of chair mat?
Selecting the best chair mat for your needs will depend to some extent on the type of flooring you’re trying to protect.

Clear Plastic
The commonest flooring in offices is carpeting and carpet tiles and the most popular type of mat for carpet protection is made from clear plastic. Care needs to be taken in selecting this type of mat.

Really cheap ones need to be avoided as the edges soon bubble and distort with use presenting a potential hazard as it’s all too easy to trip over these raised edges. You can usually tell this type of mat because it rolls up.

Better quality clear mats are semi-rigid tapering at the edges to give a smooth connection between mat and carpet. Additionally they have a grid of short molded plastic studs to the underside, which act as grips and prevent the mat slipping in use.

Wood Mats
Wood chair mats come in 2 formats. First there are laminate-based rigid mats finished in a realistic wood effect. These are very durable and are suitable for protecting all types of floor. Generally the finish is very good and they can certainly enhance the appearance of your office.

Second there are bamboo mats made from machined bamboo strips, which are professionally strung together and can be rolled up. These are then finished in a high quality stain and again are suitable for protecting most floor surfaces and also look very good in the office.

Rubber Mats
Rubber mats aren't nearly as common these days, mainly due to the improvement in quality and appearance of other forms of mat. They don't look very nice as generally they come in black rubber, which can look unsightly in a large piece. However one of their advantages is they are quite thin and so are ideal for protecting hard floor surfaces like wood and tiles. They act as a form of gasket preventing delicate surfaces from becoming marked or scored.

Here are the 3 key points we’ve covered in this article:

  • What a chair mat is
  • When you should use one
  • The different types of chair mat and which is best

So, if your floorcovering is starting to resemble that fox run it’s time to protect it with a chair mat. Read this article for further details on chair mat selection.

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