Without mats, dirt can accumulate and eventually harm floors.

In the case of carpet, even a small amount of moisture can embed soil to the point that a vacuum won’t work and extraction is required to remove it. With hard-surface floors, dirt can easily scratch the finish and increase the need for stripping and refinishing. In either case, cleaning costs dramatically increase. On unfinished stone floors, dirt can slowly abrade the flooring past the point of restoration.

Mats are designed to protect floors and save money, but they can only do their job if they are used correctly.

“Many cleaning departments don’t want the matting down unless the weather is bad,” Fellows says. “They assume if the weather is okay, they don’t need it. That’s a mistake. It’s just as much of a problem of tracking the dirt on the floor in clean weather as it is in inclement weather.”

Likewise, proper maintenance is also key in ensuring mats meet performance expectations.

During mild weather, vacuum all mats at least twice a day — after the heaviest morning and evening foot traffic. In buildings open 24/7, vacuum them after each shift change. Also, swap mats out for a second set once a week and run a carpet extractor over the first set.

“Having a battery-powered vacuum helps,” Seal says. “Vacuuming the mats twice a day is no problem because you don’t have to worry about moving around or tripping over a cord.”

During inclement weather, vacuum or wet-vac as needed to remove dirt or moisture. Change out and extract mats at least daily (more if they become waterlogged).

Some interior matting, like those used in food-service areas may require different maintenance. Some anti-fatigue matting, as an example, are dishwasher safe for nightly cleanings. Wooden slatted matting must be removed nightly for cleaning the floors underneath.

Facilities that opt to rent mats may experience maintenance challenges. These are often lower quality, Spencer says, because they must be thin enough to be rolled and laundered. This means they need more frequent replacement, but most rental companies only change them out once a week.

In these cases, Spencer suggests negotiating contracts to include one or several spare sets of mats so staff can swap them out more often. Also, consider paying more to have the company replace them twice a week.

Matting can represent a sizable upfront investment for departments. Choosing quality products (and installing and maintaining them properly) can pay dividends, however, by extending the life of floors and keeping building occupants safe. 

BECKY MOLLENKAMP is a freelance writer based in St. Louis.

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