Floor mats run the gamut in size, color and functionality, which can cause some questions when it comes to how to choose what is best suited for any given facility. In this roundtable discussion, we’ve asked industry manufacturers to comment on some of the most frequent matting questions we receive from facility cleaning managers.

How does a manager know which type of backing they should have on mats? Are there specifics for different flooring types?

Choosing the right mat for the job can be a daunting task. This is because there are different jobs mats need to do and many different floor types and conditions. One common denominator is the mat should have a backing that keeps it in place with no shifting out of position, no bunching up, or lifting at corners and edges. If using a traditional rubber-backed carpeted floor mat, get one that has a non-skid tread on the back. As an alternative, New Pig offers Grippy Mat, which has an adhesive backing that holds tight so the mats stay put on nearly all commercial floor types. 
  — Daniel Silver, Vice President of Product Development, New Pig, Corp.

As a majority of entrances are not carpeted, managers should consider either a rubber or vinyl-backed mat. However, as both matting types have their advantages and disadvantages, product decisions are typically made based on customer preference.
On hard surfaces, the backing should be smooth so there is 100 percent contact with the base of the floor to help prevent the mat from moving. If a mat is going on carpet, managers may need to use carpet matting tape or a simple hook-and-loop system to maintain placement.
  — Aaron Mills, Marketing Manager, 3M Commercial Solutions Division

Always choose the type of backing based on the floor substrate. Vinyl works best on a smooth surfaces, such as concrete, polished tiles etc. This allows for the most surface to surface contact, which in turn leads to less sliding. Rubber backed mats work best with carpet, the backing grips the carpet helping reduce movement.
  — Brian Evans, National Sales Manager, Superior Manufacturing

Backing for entrance mats (and most mats in general) should keep the moisture from passing through to the floor underneath and keep the mat in place.  It could be vinyl or rubber; it doesn’t really matter as long as it does these 2 things and it is a quality material that won’t crack or crumble.
For mats used to protect wood floors in gymnasiums, a backing such as polyolefin, which is both durable for use and lightweight for easy handling is best
  — JoAnn Durette, Vice President of Marketing, Mats, Inc.

Typically the backing is determined by the type of floor surface.  For a hard surface floor, you would use a smooth backed mat.  The smooth backing helps the mat stay in place more efficiently. For a carpeted floor, you would use a cleated back mat.  The cleats dig into the carpet and help to keep the mat from moving.  It’s important to use Rubber backed mats if you intend on having them laundered.
  — John Miller, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Americo Manufacturing

There are basically two different materials used for backing on a commercial floor mat: Vinyl or Rubber. Vinyl backed mats have a flat surface that is to be used on hard surface flooring. Rubber backed mats offer more options in backing choices due to the manufacturing process. The most common choices are smooth backing for hard surfaces and cleated for carpet surfaces. There are several additional options available in the market place specific to manufacturers. These options are directed at stopping mat movement based on the specific placement of the mat. It is recommended to speak to a sales professional in order to find the best solution.
  — Mark Roberts, National Accounts Specialist, The Andersen Company

The answer is not that simple.  Is the mat intended to be left in place all the time or does the customer want to be able to roll is up, store, & re-assemble when needed during inclement weather?  Is the mat on a hard floor or carpet and if it is on carpet is it a cut pile or loop construction.  If the flooring is a hard floor is it a hard stone like granite or a soft stone like sandstone or travertine.  It is very important to match the right backing to existing floor and the intended use.  A simple answer is that a cleated rubber is preferred on carpet, a vinyl back where impervious to water transfer is most important, and composite rubbers on hard flooring where minimizing mat creeping is the goal.
  — Mitchell Saltzman, President, Proform