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Matting: Leaving Dirt At The Door
Picking up dirt can be a nuisance. It can also be pricey.
In fact, for every pound of dirt that gets tracked into a facility it costs roughly $500 to remove it, experts say. Thus, preventing unwanted dirt, debris and contaminants from entering a facility and doing its damage can be dramatically lowered with the implementation of a high performance matting system.
“Matting is the best thing that any building can do to stop dirt before it gets into the building,” says Vince Sortino, vice president of sales, Philip Rosenau Co., Inc., Warminster, Pa. “The more matting you put down, the less it’s going to cost you in building cleaning and damage from wear and tear when the dirt gets in there. And, the better the matting program, the less chance of having the dirt get further into the building. The more you stop at the door, the better off you are.”
High performance matting systems help stop dirt and water at the door, store soil and water for removal, minimize the tracking of soil and water into the facility, as well as provide a safe surface that is slip resistant and is not a trip hazard.
When selling a high performance matting system, distributors should promote quality over quantity. Even though the systems may be pricey, distributors recommend customers focus on function and the certain types of matting that represent a high performance matting system.
Studies show that 70 to 80 percent of the dirt and debris that enters a facility comes through the front door — by way of building occupants and visitors’ shoes. So, distributors recommend that facilities start by placing matting outside the main entranceway.
Best when placed outside of entranceways, scraper mats aggressively scrape and remove dirt, debris and snow from shoe bottoms — some as much as 50 percent before occupants even enter the building. They also act as a building’s first line of defense, by effectively trapping and holding heavy soil, sand and ice melt in its deep grooves below the surface to ensure it doesn’t get tracked in by other occupants.
“The concept is to aggressively get that dirt off your feet and trap it in the mat,” says Jon Scoles, managing director of Scoles Floorshine Industries, Farmington, N.J. “The mat has to be such that you can release the dirt from the mat, too. It’s nice to trap the dirt but you have to make sure it’s easy enough to get it out when you’re trying to clean it.”
No matter the geology of a facility, a scraper mat is essential outside of the entranceway, says Steve Spencer, facilities specialist with State Farm Insurance, Bloomington, Ill.
“I recommend a scraper mat that lets gross particles go through it, back down through to the sidewalk so you can just lift it up and sweep that stuff away or clean it,” he says. “Because if that stuff gets stuck in the bottom and the mat doesn’t get cleaned out properly it will chew up the mat just from foot traffic.”
Used primarily to collect bulk dirt — not moisture — scraper mats should run at least six feet from outside a facility’s entranceway, says Scoles.
“We try to get customers to have at least six feet of matting outside of the doorway,” he says. “And then we get at least 10 to 15 feet inside the doorway if possible. That combination will take about 85 percent of the dirt off your feet. Because nobody actually stops and wipes their feet — they just walk in. So, you have to get at least a couple steps on the outside and at least four steps on the inside.”
Besides the weathering elements, facility managers also need to consider that building occupants and visitors typically enter the building from the parking lot. Even though parking lots may be cleaned, people may be walking through chemicals such as gasoline, oil, brake fluid and antifreeze. The outside scraper, as well as the second stage of matting that follows, Spencer says, needs to be able to scrape off those chemicals as well.
“You also need your next level to be able to scrape that stuff off because that stuff coming in hitting your carpet or hitting your hard surface floors is going to be a real problem,” he says. “So you need to have something that is real aggressive in the vestibule area.”
Most buildings have a vestibule or an air lock of some sort. Distributors say facility managers should not overlook vestibules, as these are high-traffic areas that should also be used as an extension to the outside matting to prevent dirt and contaminants from being tracked further into the facility.
Placed inside a facility’s vestibule to remove the remaining soils that don’t get captured by the scraper matting outside, distributors recommend the use of wiper/scraper mats to remove remaining soils, contaminants and moisture from shoes. The capture of moisture not only helps protect floors but also serves as a prevention against slip-and-fall accidents.
Wiper/scraper mats are designed to clean shoes and absorb moisture, but are more aggressive than a wiper. Distributors say these work best when used following a scraper mat or in conjunction with a wiper mat.
Some buildings are combating dirt in their vestibules with recessed wells. Located in between the exterior and interior doors, a small well is carved out of the floor and in the hole, matting is placed.
“It’s got holes in it and as people walk across it, it scrapes their feet and the dirt falls into the well and periodically you have to pick the mat up that is in the recessed well and sweep out from underneath it,” says Sortino.
Manufacturers have designed mats specifically to be placed in recessed wells. These mats allow for proper drainage and help keep floors clean and dry while aggressively brushing off debris and moisture. Some facilities may find installing a recessed well to be too expensive, however. Also, some facilities choose not to implement them because they are too heavy to lift for cleaning personnel who have to clean the mat below. Distributors also frown at recessed wells because they say cleaning personnel neglect to clean the matting underneath.
For years, it has been the norm that at least 15 feet of matting is required to remove the majority of dirt and debris from foot traffic in a facility. Fifteen feet of matting ensures that each foot will make contact with the matting at least three times providing adequate scraping and drying to stop most dirt and moisture at the entrance.
Following a five-foot long scraper mat outside and a five-foot long wiper/scraper mat inside the vestibule, distributors say a high performance matting system is finalized by using at least a five-foot long wiper mat inside the facility.
Wiper mats help remove any excess dust and moisture from shoes that otherwise weren’t displaced by the scraper and wiper/scraper matting.
Traditionally, facilities have frowned at placing matting inside their facility because they feel they were eye soars. However, as matting has come full circle, manufacturers have become very good at designing them, logoing them and making them attractive for people to want to use.
In fact, distributors say that some facilities nowadays prefer to run walk off mats throughout their facility to help reduce the cost of maintenance.
The upfront cost of purchasing a high performance matting system can be costly depending on the number of entrances a facility has. However, without an effective matting system, there will be higher maintenance costs, the floor finish will be difficult to maintain and carpeting will have to be cleaned more frequently.