Anyone who has had to sit behind a desk for any sustained period knows that they make a lot of movements throughout the day. Whether you’re getting up and down to get coffee, taking a break or walking the shop floor, or you simply move about repositioning for comfort or to reach drawers and cabinets – these movements can cause damage to your office flooring, leaving it looking messy and potentially causing a hazard if there are divots caused in a thicker pile carpet.
The answer? Office chair mats.
What are they?
An office chair mat sits underneath your office chair, providing a physical barrier to prevent damage to the floor beneath and giving you a smooth surface to roll a wheeled chair on.
What to look out for
The first thing to decide on is the kind of backing you want for your office chair mat. Fortunately, this is a straightforward choice. If you have a hard/smooth surface flooring type (linoleum, wood, laminate, vinyl etc) then you need a smooth-backed chair mat to prevent the mat itself from causing damage to your floor. If you have a carpet of any pile depth at all, you’ll need a mat with a grip-type back – this will hold it in place by entangling with the carpet fibres and prevent damage by way of friction from the mat moving about.
There are two main shapes available for chair mats – rectangular (also known as straight-edge) and lipped. You can find versions in other shapes, but they are much less effective. A rectangular mat is best for standard, rectangular desks, as it will fit nicely alongside and under, providing maximum flooring protection. Lipped versions are most suited to ‘L’-shaped and corner desks, as the lipped part can slot snugly underneath.
Your choice of material will come down to finding a balance between your budget and how durable you need it to be. The premium choice is polycarbonate – it’s super hard-wearing, it’s fire resistant (extremely important in commercial office settings) and it is heatproof – so if you use space heaters or portable radiators in your offices you don’t need to make sure they’re kept well away from the mat. If your offices have underfloor heating, you can use this kind of mat.
The budget-friendly choice is PVC. It’s a lot less durable than polycarbonate, and under very heavy weights it will crack. It is also not immune to heat fluctuations – so cannot be used in close proximity to heaters or over underfloor heating. Having said that, for most offices it is still a very good matting type – it’s just worth bearing in mind the shortcomings and thinking about your specific office environment.
Most office chair mats suppliers will give you a choice of sizes. This will depend on how you or your staff work. If you are fairly stationary throughout the day, just making micro-adjustments for comfort, or if you have limited space, then a smaller mat is probably the best fit for you. For offices with a lot of staff, hot-desking environments or if you or your staff often get up and down throughout the day – the larger the mat, the better protected your floor will be.
Where possible, try to find a mat that is both manufactured from recycled materials and is recyclable itself. More and more suppliers are offering these eco-friendly mats, which are still subjected to rigorous testing for durability and suitability.
Author Bio: First Mats started life as safety matting specialists, but have since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk