Like so many custodial line items that require an up-front investment, just a bit of patience could turn into long-term savings. Eliminating monthly payments of matting rental contracts frees up a budget line item that can end up saving a facility a significant amount of money.

Soderling guesses a good number of facilities are renting mats — and oftentimes, their mat contracts are tied into other goods and services, such as uniforms. He also thinks mat ownership is increasing steadily as managers understand just how much money they can save.

“Even if they have to pay X-amount of dollars up front to purchase their own mats, based on what they’d be paying a rental company over the span of a contract, the mats can pay for themselves in six months,” Soderling says.

Matting rental contracts could be anywhere from 1 to 5 years in duration, but most facilities Soderling has seen try to exit a contract have been able to do it with relative ease.

Once managers choose to purchase mats, there are some important factors to consider. For example, when a facility chooses to own its mats, the clearance height on doors needs to be taken into consideration.

“You’ve got to make sure there’s clearance for the mat,” Soderling says. “Larger buildings sometimes have grates built into the floor. Those can be removed, and a custom-cut mat installed flush with the floor.”

Managers are also advised to pay attention to matting warranties. Soderling points out that some matting manufacturers offer multi-year warranties on their berber mats, but if properly cared for, the mats often last well beyond the warranty.

For facilities that opted to rent their mats, Soderling recommends that custodial managers check their bills regularly to make sure they’re getting what they’re paying for. If a rental company is continually cutting the frayed edges off its mats, managers could be charged for a bigger mat than the facility is actually getting.

“Since you’re not the one putting the mats down, it’s hard to keep tabs on those costs, unless you’re really monitoring where the mats are and how many are being used,” he says.

Pay attention, also, to the types of matting rental companies use, Scoles adds. He has found that it’s not always the best matting to stop dirt at the door.

“They usually use nylon or polyester mats, and what happens is, the fibers get matted down and the dirt lays on top of it and gets walked right off the mat,” Scoles says.

The most effective mats are those with texture, such as berber, or patterned like waterhog matting, he adds. That way, the dirt gets trapped below the foot line.

Smaller, retail-type stores, or facilities that outsource a lot of services and don’t want employees to deal with mat cleaning duties, are more likely to rent mats, Soderling says.

“Property and real estate managers of large, multi-tenant office buildings are smart and will opt to own their mats every single time,” he adds. “They know high quality matting helps keep their building cleaner and labor costs down, so they budget for that up-front cost. And it’s not rocket science to maintain them.”

Segura says purchasing mats saved a lot of money for his facility in the long run.

“I discovered I could replace all mats four times a year, as well as have a person in charge of doing a heavy-duty cleaning on the mats, and still save money by owning” Segura says.

“When you purchase, you have better control. The positive impact on budgets always helps,” he adds.

Having control of the mats also means managers can choose whether customizable options will benefit the facility.

Personalized matting with welcome or safety messages, company logos and other art can turn entryways into message boards. Only available if facilities opt to purchase mats, these customized options can be an easy marketing tool.

For example, Soderling recalls seeing a recent photo of the CEO of a Minneapolis-based company standing on a personalized mat featuring his company’s logo. These mats can cost more, but smart managers can convince higher ups to use dollars from the marketing budget, not just the cleaning or maintenance budget.

“Having the right size berber mat with a logo on it just looks more appealing to clientele than having a dozen 4 foot by 6 foot rental mats,” Soderling says.

Maintenance And Safety

Since most facilities already have custodial staff cleaning floors and carpets daily and scrubbing or deep-cleaning carpets once or twice a year, maintaining entryway matting is very easy as it can be included with those duties. Control over cleaning is one big benefit of owning versus renting, Soderling says.

“Sometimes, customers get rental mats back and the quality control isn’t there. If they own and maintain the mats themselves, they can clean to their standards and know it’s been done right,” he says.

If renting, managers also may have less control over the condition of their mats, especially thinner, lightweight mats that are more susceptible to rolling, creating a tripping hazard.

“If a facility has just one slip or trip accident, they’re likely to switch over to heavier duty berber mats that won’t roll up,” Soderling says.

Matting goes through aggressive laundering machines — not extraction — at the rental companies, Scoles adds. This, too, can bend or wave the mats, turning them into a trip hazard.

“From just a safety issue alone, having a better mat is well worth the expense of purchasing,” he says. “Investing in quality entrance mats and maintaining them along with your other carpeting is the safest, most economical and effective way to go.”

Whether managers opt to rent mats or buy them outright will depend on the needs of the facility. Either way, distributors are ready and available to assist in outlining the best options for the department.  

LISA RIDGELY is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wis.

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Rewards Of Renting Floor Mats