Putting the Matting Cards on the Table

Usually the best way to keep buildings clean and healthy this time of the year is through the installation of high-performance mats.

astrizzi_1357680763_17The winter months are upon us and this time of year can cause havoc on all types of facilities, including multi-housing facilities. Usually the best way to keep buildings clean and healthy this time of the year is through the installation of high-performance mats. Having an effective matting system in place during the winter months as well as throughout the year not only keeps multi-housing facilities cleaner and healthier, but can help reduce their overall cleaning needs and costs to boot. This is why the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program now requires high-performance mats be installed at all building entries throughout the year, but most especially during the winter months.

Just look at the facts:

  • Studies by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, find that as much as 80 percent of all the soil, dust, contaminants and moisture entering a facility such as a multi-housing development are tracked in on the shoes of visitors.
  • Sustained tracking of soils into the building is a prime factor in the wearing and possible damage of floors. Even dry soils such as sand can pose a formidable cleaning problem and severely damage high-quality marble and terrazzo floors.
  • One person walks in about 0.02 ounce of soil every time he or she enters a building; multiply that by the number of people living or using the building and you can see how quickly this can add up.
  • It costs an estimated $500 (if not more) to remove one pound of dirt, according to ISSA.
  • Related to this, some experts in the professional cleaning industry believe that every dollar spent on keeping moisture and soil outside saves about $10 in cleaning costs.
  • When no mat, or an ineffective mat, is placed at a building entry, more than 40 percent of the floor’s finish (wax or sealant) may be damaged or removed within the first six feet of the entry.

These facts should provide enough evidence that mats play a crucial role in keeping multi-housing facilities healthy. However, this does not mean that just any mat will do. The placement of the mat is crucial in achieving these benefits.

Why buy mats?

Before going any further, we need to put the “matting cards” on the table. Managers have two choices when it comes to mats:

  1. Rent them
  2. Buy them.

If managers expect to enjoy the benefits of a high-performance matting system, they are likely going to have to buy them. Renting mats is typically less expensive in the short term. However, studies indicate that in the long term, the inexpensive rental mat option can become pretty pricy. It is estimated that a 3′ x 5′ rental mat costs an average of $.20 per square foot per week to rent. Using a rental mat over a five-year period will cost about $780. In contrast, a purchased 3′ x 5′ high-performance mat that has a life span of five years costs the facility approximately $100 to $200—a considerable savings.

The effectiveness of mats at keeping facilities cleaner and healthier can vary as well. Purchased high-performance mats perform better than rental mats. The following features highlight the differences between the two types of mats:

  • High-performance mats are warrantied to last one, two, or more years. A typical rental mat may be warrantied to last only three to six months.
  • A high-performance mat is designed to capture and trap moisture and soils; often it does this by placing moisture and soil below the surface of the mat. This helps prevent contaminants from being walked into the facility. Most rental mats do not offer this feature.
  • A high-performance mat can hold more soil and moisture than can a rental mat; a rental mat easily becomes saturated, after which it is no longer helping to prevent contaminants from entering the building.1

We should also note that when rental mats reach the end of their life span, in about six months, they are often disposed of and end up in overflowing landfills. While rental mats can be recycled and made into other mats or products, doing so depends on how much wear and tear the mat has suffered.


Along with selecting a high-performance matting system, it is very important that building managers realize that these mats are designed to work as a system, often referred to as the “15-Foot Rule.” If any part of the system is not in place, you will not be able to appreciate all of the many benefits of an effective matting system, as discussed earlier. This system is composed of three types of mats:

The scraper mat: As the name implies, the scraper mat is designed to scrape off heavier debris from shoe bottoms as well as absorb a significant amount of the moisture. Housing facilities should have five feet of scraper matting immediately outside each key entry of the facility.

Scraper/wiper mats: After the entry, either directly inside the building or in a vestibule, five feet of scraper/wiper matting should be installed. This part of the system continues to remove large debris and moisture that may remain on shoe bottoms.

Wiper mats: Often referred to as “the last line of defense,” wiper mats are designed to remove any remaining debris and moisture from shoes. These mats should be placed in lobby areas or walkways leading from the facility’s entries.

This “15-Foot Rule” of high-performance matting helps ensure that the majority of soil and moisture will be stopped at entry points and not tracked into the multi-housing facility. While the approaching winter season may have you thinking about a number of things, don’t forget that the best way to keep your facility clean, safe, and healthy is by having an effective matting system in place. While the winter season may have you thinking about a number of things, don’t wait for bad weather to install mats. The best way to keep your facility clean, safe, and healthy is by having an effective matting system in place throughout the year.

Adam Strizzi is the marketing manager for Crown Matting Technologies, one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of matting systems in North America. He can be reached via his company website at www.crown-mats.com.

1 In a study by the insurance company CNA, when it comes to preventing slips and falls, a saturated mat “made the situation worse . . . significantly affecting slip resistance.”