In 2020, there was a big shift towards people working from home, especially in roles where they would normally be in an office. For many people, however, the constant use of an office chair has damaged their carpet or wooden floors.
To protect carpet and floors from chair wheels, the best solution is to use a chair mat. Chair mats form a protective layer, allowing the wheels to roll over the surface without damaging the carpet or floor beneath.
Choosing the most suitable chair mat depends on several factors such as the floor type, the size and the shape, so if you’re thinking about getting a chair mat for your office, then this guide should help you to make the right decision.
When choosing a chair mat, the first detail to consider is the flooring. Different flooring types each require the mat to have a certain type of backing, so it holds well and is fit for use. Flooring can be divided into three main categories:
Hard floor: This includes hardwood, laminate and vinyl tiles. These floor types require a mat with a smooth surface as any spikes would lift it and make it uneven, not to mention uncomfortable to walk or sit on.
Medium-pile Carpet: Carpets with medium pile can be found nearly anywhere. They are standardised as between 3/8 and ¾ of an inch and are installed in both homes and offices. This type of flooring needs a mat made from a thick material with studs on the back to keep it in place.
Thick-pile Carpet: This type of carpet is very unlikely to be found in an office space – unless it’s a home office. Think plush carpets and shaggy rugs, a carpet with a thickness of over 3/4” requires a very thick chair mat with long spikes to ensure it stays in place.
Chair Mat products will normally state what thickness of carpet they are designed for, so check with the manufacturer or retailer for advice.
There are a variety of different materials that you can choose when it comes to chair mats. So, having considered the kind of flooring you have, as described above, your final decision will be partly based on the durability and texture of the mat and partly on aesthetics and how the mat will look in your space. We go into detail about the two main chair mat materials below:
PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Chair mats that are made from PET are very common. Their smooth surface makes them ideal for hard floors, and they are available with a clawed underside for carpeted floors, too. PET mats are very durable and will last a long time underneath your chair.
This material is also fully recyclable and very energy efficient, boosting your business’s green credentials.
A much stronger option, polycarbonate chair mats are fire-resistant and compatible with heated flooring systems. They are available in a smooth surface finish for hard floors and with a claw backing for floors with medium-pile carpet.
Polycarbonate chair mats are crystal clear, making them ideal for both modern and traditionally decorated workplaces.
Choosing the right size for your chair mat depends on your personal habits. If you roll around on your chair often to get up and sit back down, you will need a larger mat. However, if you stay seated and still for long periods of time, you may find a smaller mat is the better option.
Some of the most common chair mat sizes include:
Most chair mats are either rectangular or lipped, and choosing the right one depends on how much rolling the chair will be doing and the space you have available under the desk.
Rectangular chair mats are the most popular, but for desks with built-in drawers and cupboards, a lipped mat is best as it will protect the floor underneath the desk and the area just in front of it.
Aside from all the basic factors listed above, some chair mats are available with added benefits to increase your comfort.
These could include:
Chair mats are a very useful accessory to add to your home or office space as they increase comfort and protect your floors.
Please note that when you first receive your mat, you may find it curls up a little after unrolling it. This is a very minor issue that should be resolved within a day or two after use.
If you require any further assistance with chair mats or any other product from our website, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service team, who will be more than happy to help.
Learn more about the difference between PET and Polycarbonate chair mats here.
Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.