It’s that time of year when sports teams are either ending or beginning their seasons. Many people watch and analyze who has the best offense and defense, and that often-heard phrase is thrown around: “the best offense is a good defense.” What kind of defense do you have in your structure to protect your quarterback — er, floors? Outside dirt and grit cause the most damage to indoor floors. What line of defense will keep them out? Entrance mats.

Statistics show:

  • 85 percent of the dirt in your building entered on the soles of people’s shoes,
  • One square yard of commercial carpet can accumulate up to one pound of dirt in a week — twice that in the winter months,
  • It can take the foot traffic from just 1,500 people to remove 42 percent of the finish from your tile.

If you are responsible for the floor care in a commercial building, you already understand the term “coefficient of friction.” The dress shoes we wear today have more surface area and texture so as to provide better “kinetic friction,” which helps prevent slip-and-fall accidents. This is a huge design change from the smooth, leather sole dress shoes we used to wear.

The change created better friction with floors, but also created a way for more dirt to get trapped in the tread and subsequently release the dirt — inside your building. Because of a simple design change on the tread of shoes, more dirt is being brought into buildings.

At the same time, more people are wearing casual, athletic type shoes. Those shoes will also bring more soil into your building.

Entrance mats and matting work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, helping keep a building clean. Stopping dirt at the door not only reduces cleaning labor costs and wear on floors, but it also reduces the need for cleaning chemicals that might be harmful to the building occupants and the environment. Repeatedly I see entrance mats that have outlived their useful life and allow dirt to be spread throughout a building. I see perfectly good recess mats with another mat placed on top because someone thought it would stop more dirt.

If you and your staff strive to use “green” cleaning products that will have less of an impact on the environment and occupants of your building; if you look for ways to make cleaning your building more efficient; and/or you are constantly looking for ways to reduce your labor costs, proper matting is essential. When mats are the proper type and size and placed properly, your maintenance costs will be reduced, which also helps you reach your green cleaning goal.

*Statistics courtesy National Floor Safety Institute

Owning versus renting entrance mats

There are a few key considerations for when to rent entrance mats and when to buy them:

  • Owning mats will guarantee you the exact look, style and color you want.
  • Rent mats for entrances that receive the most foot traffic.
  • Own mats if your maintenance staff can keep them clean.
  • Rent mats for just the worst months of the year.

Return on investment also is a consideration when it comes to owning versus renting entrance mats. Renting entrance mats is more expensive, but if you don’t have the staff to keep owned mats clean, you have no choice but to rent.

A dirt- and water-loaded entrance mat is going to add costs to your maintenance budget. Worse yet is to have a visitor slip and fall on the adjoining floor because the mat is saturated with water. Did you know that the average legal fees and settlement costs of a slip-and-fall-related injury can exceed $28,000.00? You can buy a whole lot of entrance mats and safety with that kind of money.

The bottom line

There are four things an entrance mat should do:

  1. Provide a safe walking surface.
  2. Stop dirt and water at the door.
  3. Minimize tracking of dirt and water.
  4. Store dirt and water for later removal.

Stopping dirt and water at the door will help you get the best life out of floor coverings. Dirt and grit can severely impact the appearance of any hard surface flooring by causing scratching and dents. In the Figure 1, you can see it can take several steps to sufficiently clean your shoes. I recognize it may not be attractive to have a long mat in your entrance way instead, so consider starting the soil removal with a specific mat outdoors. Any help you can provide will protect the flooring investment.

entrance mats

Image courtesy of the Carpet and Rug Institute.

Entrance mats are a safe and essential part of your team’s defense and green cleaning system.

Mark Violand has been in the carpet cleaning and restoration industry for over 38 years. He is an IICRC certified carpet inspector and approved instructor. He teaches the Carpet Cleaning Technician, Commercial Carpet Cleaning and Maintenance, and Carpet Repair and Reinstallation Technician courses. His reputation precedes him as Northeast Ohios go-to floorcovering inspector, working for carpet, resilient, wood and laminate manufacturers and floorcovering retailers, consumers, attorneys, and insurance companies. For information or help regarding flooring inspections, stain removal, carpet repair, or classes, reach him at 330-807-2255 or