How to Choose the Proper Chairmat

I was asked to write a blog on a furniture topic and I thought about it for a while, trying to decide what to write about.  I thought about all the questions I've taken from customers over the years and one thing popped right into my mind - chairmats.  Perhaps not the most riveting topic out there, but a necessary one I think.  I've worked in customer service for many years and I've lost track of the number of times I've explained how to choose a chairmat.  

I took a phone call once from a customer who called to return her defective chairmat.  When I asked her what was wrong with it, she said that it won't stay in place - it slides all over the floor.  Hmmm, I thought.  So I asked a couple more questions.  I asked what kind of carpeting she has and, of course, I asked for the item number of the mat.  It turned out that the reason the mat wouldn't stay in place was that she was using a hard floor mat on a carpeted surface.  Which brings me to the start of my "How To" list.

  • Surface matters - there are mats for carpeting and mats for hard floors and they are not interchangeable.   Mats for hard floors do not have grippers on them (those little spikes that reach down into the carpeting).  That's why her mat kept sliding.  
  •  Mats for carpeting are not all created equal.  Know what kind of pile you have - commercial, low, medium or high - and choose a mat for the correct pile height.  You can find the pile height by this simple method:  1)  Open one end of a paper clip.  2)  Insert the paper clip into the carpet and pad, going all the way to the subfloor.  3)  Measure the part of the paper clip that entered the carpet and pad.  Commercial carpets are 1/4" high or less.  Low pile is 1/4" to 3/8" thick.  Medium pile is 3/8" to 3/4" thick and high pile is 3/4" high or greater.
  • Know your workspace. Consider your total floor space, the width of your workstation or desk, and the size of your chair base.  Measure the allowable rolling distance for the area where the mat will be placed and choose the shape that best fits the area.  There are 4 standard shapes of chairmats:  rectangular, lipped, workstation and contour.  Yes, there are other shapes out there, and you can also special order a custom mat, but these 4 are the standard shapes that you will find most readily available.
  • Determine the load and the usage.  For best performance, select a thicker mat for heavier weight or higher usage.
  • Casters count too - using the wrong type of casters on the mat can damage and crack the mat.  If the mat is on a carpeted surface, your chair needs to have hard casters.  If it's on a hard floor, the chair needs to have soft casters.  

These are the five basic food groups (so to speak) of chairmats.  After you have determined these factors, you can move on to other features like the material the mat is made of, the clarity, the edge style, the color (yes, I said color) and whether you need anti-static mats. (If you're working with sensitive electronic equipment, you need anti-static mats.)

Everyone is familiar with the good old clear chairmats, but you don't have to settle for them.  Fashion has come to the chairmat market. We stock mats with a woodgrain finish, a metallic finish, a chunky wool jute look, even black mats.

 Deflecto has a nice line of designer chairmats.  Right now, they're special orders, but if you have a little extra time, they can create a fantastic look in your office.  My favorite is the mat that looks like an oriental rug - perfect for a distinctive, traditional style office.

Chairmats are an important part of your office furnishings.  They extend carpet life, protect fine hard floors and ensure smooth mobility.  Make sure you get the right one for your space.  If you'd like help picking out a mat, or perhaps placing a special order for one, give us a call - we're here to help!