Some facilities eschew matting for fear it will result in dangerous and potentially costly trips and falls. Those concerns aren’t without merit.

“There’s no question that if they aren’t installed and secured properly, mats can create trip hazards for people, especially those using walkers or canes,” Fellows says.

To avoid this scenario, stay away from lightweight mats. Also, choose mats with rubber rather than nylon backing.

“You need to make sure the mat you’re putting down — especially on a hard surface — isn’t going to slide,” Spencer says. “If it slides, it gets ripples, gets bunched up or the edges curl. That’s what causes the tripping hazard.”

If the existing matting is problematic, use double-sided adhesives on the corners and edges to prevent curling and slipping. Also, make sure doors can swing clear over the matting without causing bunching.

Good matting, installed correctly, actually helps prevent slips, trips and falls.

“It keeps the floors dry and free of the sand and dirt ‘ball bearings’ that can cause people to slip,” says Seal. “It’s not just wet floors that cause slip hazards.”

Choose Wisely

Just remember, all matting is not created equal. Manufacturers offer several collections that are rated based on the wear-and-tear the mats will receive. Experts agree that, traditionally, the lower the price, the less durable the mat. For example, a casino with 3,000 visitors a day requires a very different mat than a doctor’s office with 300 visitors a day.

“The matting that costs a little more usually will absorb more moisture or dirt without it showing on the surface, and that means you change it less frequently,” Fellows says. “Low price usually means you have to change it more often and you end up paying more than you think.”

To make sure the mats being considered aren’t too flimsy, Spencer suggests requesting a sample mat and vacuuming it with current equipment to check whether it gets caught in the vacuum. Also, if the mat has grooves, throw some ice melt on it and see if the vacuums have enough suction to remove it.

“You need a mat that will stay in place and that you can clean appropriately,” he says. “If you can’t clean it appropriately, it won’t be of any use.”

An Alternative Option

Traditional carpet or rubber removable scraper and wiper mats reign supreme in this market category, but they aren’t the only option. Facilities may also want to consider walk-off matting tiles.

“The difference with the walk-off tile is it can be put down semi-permanently with pressure-sensitive adhesive,” Spencer says. “The adhesive just cleans up with soap and water when you take it up.”

The benefit of using tiles versus traditional mats, Spencer adds, is they are made of hard rubber and are much more durable (about three times heavier) than rollable mats. They can absorb more dirt and water, and can be quickly cleaned and extracted in place, without much disruption.

How do managers know which type of matting is right for the facility? A distributor can educate purchasers on the pros and cons of the various options. Plus, the distributor can and should help create a maintenance plan that will extend the life of the matting.

“A professional distributor rep should meet with all parties, including both buyers and cleaning workers,” Seal says. “It’s important to get everyone at the table and discuss the mats because that increases safety.”

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