A mat is any of a number pieces of fabric material. It is used for many things, generally placed on a floor or other flat surface, which serves a range of purposes including:
- In domestic settings
- Car mats
- Anti fatigue mats
- Cleanroom mats
- Promoting safety and health
In domestic settings
A car mat is designed to help protect a vehicle's carpeted floors. One major use of a car mat is to keep mud, sand and snow from contacting the carpeted floors. Some require fixation points to ensure they remain fixed in position.
Carpet mats and rubber mats differ in a number of ways. Carpet mats are generally tufted and have a rubberised anti-slip backing. On the other hand, rubber car mats are heavy duty and higher durability. While some car mats are the plain colour of rubber, many contain branded company logos, cartoon characters or advertisements. Some are in textile form of carpet material. They can also come in a wide range of colours. The terms universal and custom fit mats differentiate between floor mats that will fit a multitude of different cars and those that are specifically designed to fit only one chassis.
"Anti-fatigue mats" are designed to help a person who is working in a standing position for prolonged periods of time. Most anti-fatigue matting is a combination of an ergonomic pattern and a cushioning underlay. The cushioning causes constant subconscious balance checks and micro movements that stimulate blood flow through the legs and lower extremities. This results in better circulation and less fatigue. The cushioning underlay insulates the feet from the hard surface, cold floors, vibrations, moisture and sound. Their unique design encourages the user to make continual micro-movements which provides a wealth of health benefits, such as minimizing back pain, foot pain, weariness, stress, etc. Anti-fatigue mats are one of the approaches to prevent injuries, caused by working in a standing position. This type of mat is recommended by Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The range of common materials for manufacturing anti-fatigue mats includes vinyl, wood, PVC tubing, rubber, PVC closed cell foam, polypropylene, nitrile rubber. Anti-fatigue mats were initially used in factories and production lines where staff has to stand for the majority of their working shifts.
Anti-fatigue mats come in various types and materials for industrial or commercial applications for a variety of workplace conditions that exist as well as the variety of workplace designs from individual work benches, to large assembly lines or complex manufacturing work stations. Work place environments can vary from dry areas to wet or extremely oily areas. Plus specialized industries may need additional properties such as fire retardant matting for welding, static dissipative matting for electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection, anti-microbial for food industry applications.
Today, this type of ergonomic mat is commonly used during trade shows for floor covering, in hospitals and clinics during surgeries to cover the floor near surgical tables to minimize surgeons fatigue resulted from continuous standing. Also these mats are used in housekeeping, especially for kitchen floors to alleviate fatigue during cooking.
The purpose of a clean room mat is to keep sterile the areas that require ultimate protection from dirt, bacteria and any contamination brought from outside. Clean room mats are tacky, sticky, non slip mats that possess multiple layers of clean film that effectively capture dirt and dust from foot traffic and wheels. Peel-off mats are made up of multiple sheets of polyethylene film coated with acrylic adhesive that traps particles. Each layer peels off to reveal a new clean surface. The adhesive backing prevents microbial growth and contamination. Mats used outside clean rooms and laboratories are designed to withhold foreign pollution elements. This goal is achieved by a sticky surface that serves as a barrier for debris, dirt and dust adhered to shoe soles. Clean room sticky mats can contain two defensive barriers: the first part is a carpet itself, while the second part is sticky surface mat. Another mat type to be used to protect rooms from pollution is sanitizing foot bath floor mats. The mat itself is a small bath that contains sanitizing liquid. The foot bath bottom is covered with pliable rubber scrapers for effective cleaning of footwear soles while the liquid disinfects them.
An alternative clean room mat is one made from polymeric material. Polymeric products are made from a blend of pure polymeric compounds and have a three- to five-year life cycle. When a polymeric surface becomes dirty, operators can clean it with a sponge and a mop with detergent and dry the surface with a squeegee. This quick cleaning process can be incorporated into the facility’s regular wet-clean cycle.
The mats differ by composition:
Matting or floor covering or rugs is any of many coarse woven or plaited fibrous materials used for covering floors or furniture, for hanging as screens, for wrapping up heavy merchandise and for other miscellaneous purposes. In the United Kingdom, under the name of "coir" matting, a large amount of a coarse kind of carpet is made from coconut fibre; and the same material, as well as strips of cane, manila hemp, various grasses and rushes, is largely employed in various forms for making doormats. Large quantities of the coconut fibre are woven in heavy looms, then cut up into various sizes, and finally bound round the edges by a kind of rope made from the same material. The mats may be of one colour only, or they may be made of different colours and in different designs. Sometimes the names of institutions are introduced into the mats. Due to the silky nature and tensile strength, jute mats or mattings have started being used as floor covering or doormats, runners and in different forms. Jute floor coverings consist of woven and tufted and piled carpets. Jute Mats and mattings starting from 1 mtr width to 6 m width and of continuous length are easily being woven in Southern parts of India, in solid and fancy shades, and in different weaves such as boucle, Panama, anlold herringbone. Jute mats and rugs are made on both powerlooms and handlooms in large volumes in Kerala, India. Indian jute mattings / rugs are being widely used in USA and European countries, due to its soft nature. Jute can be easily bleached, colored or printed, similar to textile fibres, with eco-friendly dyes & chemicals. Hand-knotted Jute carpets & mattings are also being made from Kerala, India.
Another type of mat is made exclusively from the above-mentioned coir rope by arranging alternate layers in sinuous and straight paths, and then stitching the parts together. It is also largely used for the outer covering of ships' fenders. Perforated and otherwise prepared rubber, as well as wire-woven material, are also largely utilized for door and floor mats. Matting of various kinds is very extensively employed throughout India for floor coverings, the bottoms of bedsteads, fans and fly-flaps, etc.; and a considerable export trade in such manufactures is carried on. The materials used are numerous; but the principal substances are straw, the bulrushes Typha elephantina and Typha angustifolia, leaves of the date palm (Phoenix sylvestris), of the dwarf palm (Chamaerops Ritchiana), of the Palmyra palm (Borassus flabelliformis), of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) and of the screw pine (Pandanus odoratissimus), the munja or munj grass (Saccharum Munja) and allied grasses, and the mat grasses Cyperus textilis and Cyperus pangorei.
The mats made from Cyperus pangorei (Korai in Tamil) are called "Korai paai" in Tamil and can be found widely in the households of Tamil Nadu, usually in the size 6 feet by 3 feet. They are usually dyed in colors of bright red, green or purple, resulting in patterns. These mats differ in their levels of flexibility, fineness and price. Pattamadai paai (named after the region Pattamadai, near Tirunelveli) is generally considered the finest "paai". Many of these Indian grass-mats are examples of elegant design, and the colors in which they are woven are rich, harmonious and effective. Mats made from Vandavasi are also famed and used commonly. These days, along with these natural grass mats, one can also find plastic mats, which are easier to maintain and are cheaper. This class of work obtains in India, Japan and other Eastern countries. Vast quantities of coarse matting used for packing furniture, heavy and coarse goods, flax and other plants, etc., are made in Russia from the bast or inner bark of the lime tree. This industry centres in the great forest governments of Viatka, Nizhniy-Novgorod, Kostroma, Kazan, Perm and Simbirsk.
Promoting safety and health
Quality floor mats improve indoor air quality (IAQ) and safety in commercial and residential applications. Studies have shown that most toxic chemicals that end up inside a home are tracked in on people's shoes. A well-used door mat can trap and hold dirt and allergens, preventing their spread into the rest of the building, significantly improving IAQ and reducing the need for extensive cleaning. Additionally many floor mats are resistant to welding sparks and can keep employees from slipping on industrial lubricants or water.
Floor mats also provide safe surfaces on which to walk, preventing slips and falls that cause injury and liability damages. Anti-slip mats are now required in many areas to ensure maximum protection for both employees and customers. Specialized anti-slip mats are now available that provide extra resistance to the chemicals and grease that are sometimes found in industrial and food service settings.
Custom made anti-fatigue mats are also used in work areas where employees are required to stand for long periods of time. Employers have found that much muscle strain and injury endured by workers is caused by improper flooring conditions. Non-supportive surfaces cause fatigue and foot, back and neck pain due to impaired circulation. Anti-fatigue mats were shown to improve worker productivity by reducing the number of sick-days and injuries sustained by workers whose mobility would otherwise be restricted.