Matting - laying the groundwork

31st of January 2022
Matting - laying the groundwork

Lee Fox at Kleen-Tex looks at how floor matting systems can be used to enable cleaning professionals to minimise the transfer of dirt and dust throughout their buildings.

As the winter season continues, professionals across a variety of sectors have been preparing themselves for the increased frequency of dirt and debris that will be brought into their premises by the wind, rain and snow.

Last winter, parts of Europe experienced some of the heaviest snowfall in several decades, with temperatures in the east plummeting to freezing due to the transfer of extreme cold air from the Arctic.

As cleaning professionals prepare themselves for similar conditions this winter, the increased levels of snow, sleet and ice that can be easily transported inside a facility will be a leading consideration, even more so as occupancy levels increase with people returning to the workplace and individuals opt to stay indoors to safeguard against the elements.

For premises across Europe this presents numerous issues, with safety a key concern, as the risk of slush and melted snow can lead to dangerously slippery floors if not managed appropriately. The use of salt to grit roads and pavements can cause permanent and irreversible damage to most floor surfaces when tracked indoors which in many cases can lead to costly premature replacement of flooring. Additional cost implications can also be incurred due to the increase in floor cleaning routines and the resources and materials required to successfully control dirt levels.

On average, it is estimated that 90 per cent of all soils, including melted ice and salt, that enter a building are tracked in from the outside, typically on the soles of shoes or wheels.

Here a combination of different floor matting solutions can be utilised to alleviate the transfer of dirt and bacteria around a building, with correct applications supporting the reduction of up to 90 per cent from entering a premises.

Entrance matting can be perceived by many as being installed for purely aesthetic reasons. However, the careful specification of these types of systems can significantly reduce the level of dirt and moisture tracked in from outside to ensure high footfall areas, such as doorways, corridors and reception areas, are consistently clean.

There are two zones that need to be addressed when choosing floor matting systems for entrances – external and internal. Here the building’s individual requirements must be assessed to ensure each specific area is met, such as location, average footfall and weather. As general best practice, cleaning professionals should look to install a durable weatherproof option that is greater than 1.2 metres in length, so that visitors make contact with both feet when entering the building to remove the highest possible levels of dirt and moisture.

For wheelchair traffic, the dimensions of the matting should be large enough for the wheels to turn twice before making contact with the flooring installed underneath. It’s also crucial to ensure the matting is compliant with relevant national standards concerning slip-resistant surface and firm top layer.

Here the installation of solid rubber-backed mats provide one the most effective options, as the 100 per cent polypropylene surface can hold up to 4.5 litres of water per square metre.

An additional consideration is scraper style matting, as due to its construction and appearance, individuals are visually encouraged to wipe their feet when they see it, further aiding overall dirt control.

Once this area has been addressed, cleaning professionals should then consider what floor matting solutions are required for the indoor entrance. This is particularly crucial for commercial buildings, which often feature granite, marble, hardwood and ceramic tile flooring, all of which are susceptible to scratches and staining. These smooth types of flooring materials also present potential slip and trip hazards if moisture is allowed into the building.

It is here essential that the correct floor matting system is specified to successfully alleviate these risks, by removing dirt from shoes before occupants step inside. Due to the nature of internal matting, there are a wide range of options to choose from, with different constructions and materials providing greater moisture resistance or inherent quick drying properties, whilst other products may feature heavy duty fibres for optimum durability.

For high stress areas such as the entrances of production facilities, cleaning professionals should consider mats that have a high capacity for dirt capture, whilst also offering significant water holding capabilities.

Bespoke solutions, such as modular matting, should also be considered for commercial locations due to their flexibility to fit any area, size or shaped recess, in addition to being able to easily scale up according to changing requirements. This includes systems such as concourse tiles, which feature a durable rubber mat for extreme toughness, whilst matrix tiles feature a solid rubber base with solution-dyed nylon wiper pads. Both of these solutions offer superior dirt control properties, slip resistance and unlimited modular sizing.

Without an effective entrance mat, 42 per cent of a floor’s finish across the first 1.8 metres of the entrance can be worn away by just 1,500 people walking across it. This demonstrates the importance, particularly for high traffic areas, to install and maintain dedicated floor matting systems that adequately capture moisture, dust and debris to prevent it from entering a building.

Taking the next step

However, whilst entrance matting will be the primary concern for cleaning professionals when creating winterisation plans, all internal areas of a building will need to be considered. By installing floor matting throughout the reception area and additional spaces that present themselves as key transfer zones, such as communal spaces and landings where visitors frequently use the lift or stairs, it ensures that all areas of the building are adequately protected.

Here cleaning professionals should consider mats that have a high capacity for dirt capture, whilst also offering enhanced levels of aesthetics. By installing a dedicated combination of different systems throughout key areas of a building, cleaning professionals can successfully optimise safety and flooring durability and longevity, whilst simultaneously reducing cleaning requirements. This not only enables professionals to maximise their commercial cleaning budgets, but adopt a proactive approach to the maintenance of their flooring throughout the winter.

365 day approach

Whilst the upcoming winter period will currently be the key focus for cleaning teams across Europe, they should also look to prepare dedicated maintenance plans to minimise the transfer of moisture, dust and dirt throughout their building all year round.

Over the last 30 years, the UK has been on average six per cent wetter than the preceding 30 years, with 2020 presenting the fifth wettest year on record. This year, many countries across Europe have also experiencing significant flooding, including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, England and Scotland.

This increase in rainfall across Europe, which has been largely attributed to climate change, is presenting professionals with the additional challenge of protecting the flooring throughout their premises throughout the entire year. This is requiring a more holistic view of floor matting throughout the industry to understand the practical benefits that various flooring systems provide for different areas of a building, to successfully ensure all possible dirt and moisture is successfully captured and retained 365 days a year.


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