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Backings: The Flip Side of Matting

Posted March 6, 2014 in Matting, Entrance Mats
2 Comments

When choosing about entrance matting, most people only think about the front side – but what about the back?  The backing of an entrance mat can have just as much of an impact on the performance and service lifespan as the face, and it’s a difference that most people aren’t aware of!

As entrance mat experts, we get asked questions about our products every day by clients looking to make the best choice for their needs and budget.  These four questions below are the ones we get asked most often:

What’s the difference between vinyl-backed, rubber-backed, and latex gel-foam-backed mats?

This is a great question, because not all types of backing are directly comparable!

Vinyl backing and rubber backing are both the top notch in quality for mat backing – but they don’t directly compete with each other.  Vinyl backing is used on premium carpet-style entrance matting, like our Grizzly FX.  Because carpet-style entrance matting is woven and tufted in a manner similar to regular broadloom carpet, it’s flexible and needs a backing that’s tough but bendable.  Rubber backing is used on premium knob-style entrance matting – like our Kermode – because it’s a much stiffer, less-flexible style of entrance matting and doesn’t need the bendability of vinyl.

backings vinyl matting

Rubber and latex gel-foam backing are directly comparable, however.  Rubber is the toughest, most-durable backing available for knob matting.  Latex gel-foam provides reasonable performance at a more affordable price point, and is available on entry-level entrance matting.  Latex gel-foam will ‘crumb’ more quickly and under lighter traffic loads than rubber backing, and won’t last quite as long.

backings rubber matting

What backing type is better for use on tiles or hard surface floors?

For tiles and other hard flooring surfaces, both vinyl backing and rubber backing come out as the winners.  Both vinyl and rubber backing offer great slip resistance and help to reduce shifting and sliding.  But the most important part of keeping your mat in place is cleanliness!  Regardless of the backing type, dirt and dust particles between the bottom of your mat and the surface of your floor will act like tiny ball bearings and will cause your mat to slide and shift as people walk across it.  Keeping your floor and your mat clean is of the utmost importance!

What backing type is good for carpet?

The short answer is “none”!  Broadloom carpet will cause any mat to shift and move, regardless of the backing type.  Carpet may seem like a flat surface, but it’s anything but!  Broadloom carpet is made up of thousands of individual yarn tufts standing straight up like tiny fingertips.  As you walk across the carpet, each tuft bends forward in the direction you’re traveling, and then bends backwards to return to its original upright position.  This forward-and-backward bending is what causes an entrance mat to shift and move around – it’s not the mat’s backing, it’s the carpet itself!  The only way to prevent a mat from moving around on carpet is to mechanically fasten it to the subfloor – and that usually means screws through the corners of your mat, through your carpet, into the plywood subfloor below.

Will the backing prevent water from coming through onto the floor?

Yes!  The backing (among other things) is what makes differentiates entrance matting from an area rug or regular carpet.  All three main types of mat backing (vinyl, rubber, and latex gel-foam) will stop water from penetrating through the mat to the floor below while they are intact and in good condition.  What you need to keep in mind is the water capacity that you will need at your entrance to keep up with your local weather, foot traffic levels, and the rest of your entrance matting system.  Think of a quality entrance mat like a bucket – no matter how watertight the bucket is, it will spill water out if you overfill it!  Make sure your bucket (entrance mat!) is big enough to handle all the water you need it to hold.

The backing of your entrance mat is only one of the criteria you should use when selecting the right mat for your application.  The face style and construction method, the material type, and even the cosmetic appearance should all factor into your decision-making process.  Email us today and we’d be happy to help you choose the right mats for your needs!

2 Comments

  1. Helen Allen, August 5, 2014:

    We have some old industrial rugs, with rubber backing, our entrances are both ceramic tile. Our problem is that the humidity is very high, and the rugs are wet on the rubber side where they are on the floor, and if not noticed, begin to smell. How do you stop that from happening?

  2. Ross Ferguson, August 5, 2014:

    Hi Helen, thanks for your question! Unfortunately you can’t do anything about the symptom (wetness under the mats) without addressing the root problem (overall humidity). Are you able to dehumidify the area?

    Barring that, a regular cleaning program would be a ‘band-aid’ fix. You’ll need to use a rubber-safe disinfecting agent to kill the mould and bacterial growth on the underside of the mats that are causing your smell problems.

    Good luck!

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