Carpeted (Wiper) Mats 101

A carpeted mat has three basic components: the carpet (the surface), the backing material, and the backing surface.

The Surface

There are different materials for carpet, both natural and synthetic materials. Natural fibers like cotton offer excellent absorbency. Today, synthetic fibers like nylon, polypropylene, and polyester are sold much more because they offer some benefits over natural fibers. Those benefits including their resiliency, fade resistance (colorfastness), and resistance to staining.

Nylon is a synthetic fiber that is very versatile. It can be used to create different styles of carpet, like plush or luxurious cut pile carpets or low maintenance loop carpets, like Berber, etc. Nylon is very resilient and holds its twist well, making it a good choice for high-traffic, high-activity areas. Nylon can be acid-dyed or solution-dyed. Acid-dying adds color to the surface of the carpet fiber, while solution-dying builds color into the fiber. Acid-dyed yarn is comparable to a radish – colored on the outside but white on the inside. Solution-dying on the other hand produces a yarn that is like a carrot - colored all the way through. Because of this, solution-dyed fibers are impervious to bleach and UV radiation.

Polypropylene fibers will not absorb dye so they need to be solution-dyed. Since solution-dying builds the color into the fiber, polypropylene is naturally resistant to fading and staining. It offers great fade resistance, making it a good choice for areas with a lot of sunlight or areas where spills and stains are common. Polypropylene fibers are not as resilient as nylon fibers (they don’t bounce-back up from crushing as nylon does) so it is better used for loop carpets and needle-punched fabric.  

The Backing Material

Carpeted mats can be backed with a variety of materials.  Most commonly, PVC (vinyl) or rubber.  While these materials may look similar, they perform very differently, and you should understand those performance differences so you can select the best material for your particular needs.

Vinyl is traditionally less expensive than rubber but lacks many of the attributes that make floor mats durable and versatile.  While vinyl mats may perform suitably in a low/light traffic area, over time vinyl is prone to curling, warping, and cracking, especially in extreme temperatures. 

Rubber mats are best for high-traffic and heavy use areas. Unlike vinyl, rubber has no memory.  It can be rolled and stored, yet still lay flat when placed on the floor.  Rubber can endure extreme temperatures and is far less prone to cracking, curling and warping than vinyl.  Rubber can be produced with a number of different surface patterns/treads for safe use on a variety of floors.

Backing Thickness: We offer nitrile rubber in two primary thicknesses - 1.5mm and 3mm; however, some products have different rubber thickness. The thicker and heavier the rubber, the more dimensional stability the mat has. Dimensional stability refers to a material's ability to maintain its original dimensions when subjected to changes in temperature and humidity.  

The Backing Surface

The backing surface of your mat should be chosen based on the type of floor. And regardless of the backing or flooring, the floor should always be dry.

Smooth backing mats perform best on floors with a smooth surface (marble, tile, or wood). The smooth backing allows the two surfaces to have the most contact and create the most friction to prevent the mat from moving.

Mats that will be placed on a carpeted surface perform best with a claw backing. Claws are small nubs that grip the carpeted surface to minimize movement.

Put It All Together

When you are shopping for a carpeted mat, consider the following:

  • Where will place your mat?
    • On a smooth or carpeted floor
    • In a high traffic, medium traffic, or low traffic area
  • What will it be exposed to?
    • Direct sunlight (UV)
    • Possible staining agents – dirt/mud, coffee, etc.
  • How will you care for your mat?
    • Will it be cleaned regularly by your janitorial staff?
    • Will it be serviced by a commercial laundry/uniform service?

Which M + A Matting mat is right for you?

Many carpeted mats can be customized with your logo or design. If adding your company logo, a message, or photographic-quality designs to your mat sounds appealing to you, check out these mats: