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Floor Mats Wear Many Hats

Mats play a key role in keeping building users safe, healthy, and productive. This applies to mats placed inside and outside key entrances, as well as in high-traffic locations. Not only do mats help protect building users, they also help keep facilities cleaner. In fact, in order for a facility to qualify for LEED certification, it is now required that it have an effective, high-performance matting system installed at all building entrances.

It should also be noted that there are many different kinds of mats, including “specialty” mats that address an array of different needs, uses, and situations.  

In case you haven’t noticed, the matting industry has developed its own ‘lingo” to describe the different types of mats available in the market. For instance, we just used the term “high-performance” mats – but what does that mean? A high-performance mat is made of higher quality materials, has a longer warranty (one to three years or more), is usually purchased – not rented, and is designed to be more effective at capturing and trapping soils and moisture.

Some of the other types of mats building managers should be aware of include the following:

1) Anti-Microbial Mats:  These mats are designed to inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria. The installation of anti-microbial mats is particularly important in laboratories, food processing facilities, healthcare facilities, and industrial locations where there are concerns about the growth of microorganisms that could negatively affect the health of workers or the products being manufactured.

2) Anti-Fatigue Mats (dry): Anti-fatigue mats are used in areas where workers must stand for long periods, such as reception areas in some commercial buildings. For these workers, discomfort, fatigue, sore feet, and pain in joints and knees often develop over time. These mats are designed to reduce musculoskeletal pain and fatigue in several ways. More advanced anti-fatigue mats are made with a patented foam called Zedlan, which provides a gentle but definite “bounce” as the mats are walked on. This bounce helps increase blood flow to the lower limbs which can reduce fatigue and pain.

3) Anti-Static Mats: These mats are installed in electrical and mechanical areas of a facility where delicate electronic equipment is used. Static electricity can damage electronic components and the “shock” that it produces can potentially cause an accident. These mats are designed to prevent the buildup of static electricity by removing static charge. 

4) Flow-Through Mats: If your facility has a commercial kitchen, then a flow-through mat is something to explore. Flow-through mats typically have openings that allow spills, splashes, and other moisture to flow below the surface of the matting. This keeps the walking surface dry, helping to prevent a slip-and-fall accident.

5) Logo mats: Logo mats are designed to greet building users and visitors, enhance the area’s aesthetics, and improve the first impression of a facility. In one Chicago office building, a large logo mat is installed with the address of the building and the tagline, “Exceeding Every Expectation.” Essentially, this logo mat is a form of branding the facility.

Mat Selection and Care

As mentioned earlier, these are not rental mats from a linen or similar service. Rental mats, while they can serve a purpose, are typically not designed to play the many roles we have described here. And there are even more types of mats we could discuss for many diverse purposes, especially those made for industrial locations, laboratories, etc. When selecting a specialty mat, work with a distributor or manufacturer that has been marketing or manufacturing mats for a number of years. Unfortunately, the matting industry tends to have some “fly by night” companies that are here today and gone tomorrow – just like the mats they sell.

As for cleaning and care, here are some quick tips:

  • Custodians should vacuum mats at least once per day.  While they do collect moisture, the bulk of the contaminants they capture are dry soils and are best removed by vacuuming.
  • Vacuum mats in multiple directions.  A back-and-forth vacuuming is fine as long as it is complimented with a side-to-side vacuuming. This helps ensure more dry soils captured by the mat are vacuumed-up.
  • Pick-up mats on a regular basis.  If there is moisture under the mat, custodians should mop the floor and clean the back of the mat using a pH neutral cleaner.  Allow to thoroughly dry before replacing.
  • Check the mat regularly.  If it appears soiled, especially with grease and oil, remove it and replace with a fresh mat.
  • This leads us to the actual cleaning of mats. High performance mats, in most cases, can be cleaned using carpet extraction.  Cleaning workers should pre-spray the mat with a proper cleaning solutions, and after a few minutes of dwell time, begin extraction.  Once this is done, lay the mat flat on a safe floor surface and allow 24 hours to dry.

Adam Strizzi is marketing manager for Crown Matting Technologies

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