Matting - making an entrance

25th of September 2019
Matting - making an entrance

A visitor’s first impression of a hotel, restaurant, office or retail centre is formed immediately upon entering the facility. Ann Laffeaty asks manufacturers about the important role played by the mat in terms of enhancing the facility’s appearance and making a good impression on the visitor.

When someone steps into a public building, the first thing they see will be the mat. So however subliminal, their first impression of the facility is likely to be formed on the basis of what lies beneath their feet.

This puts a huge amount of pressure on matting manufacturers to deliver attractive, aesthetically-pleasing products that will impress the visitor – while also removing the dirt and water from their shoes. But how important are aesthetics in a mat compared with other factors such as effectiveness and durability?

Very, according to director of marketing EMEA at Notrax Giselle Dirckx. “The entrance to a building provides the visitor with their first impression of that facility, and as with any introduction – whether it is to a person, a place or product – that first impression is critical,” she says.

But she adds that an entrance mat should also offer a good level of functionality and be able to cope with a high throughput of traffic as well as having an attractive design.

“The constant tracking-in of dirt to a building is a prime factor in the wear and tear of interior floors and carpeting,” said Dirckx. “And wet, slippery floors are dangerous, which means entrance mats need a high water absorption rate to properly dry people’s shoes.”

On the other hand, a mat that features an image, logo or message can be a powerful branding tool, she adds. “The entrance mat then becomes a sizeable promotional opportunity that will enhance a company’s identity and truly welcome guests - because most people primarily look at the floor as they come in,” she said.

Notrax mats can be printed with multi-coloured logos, designs, artwork and photos as well as 3D images, according to Dirckx.

Business manager of COBA Europe Danielle Cooke also believes the matting system to play a crucial role from an aesthetic point of view. “The importance of first impressions should not be ignored because it is all about tapping into the potential customer’s sub-conscious,” she said. “In business terms – particularly in the retail sector - this could be the difference between converting the visit into a sale or not.”

She says the all-important customer experience begins at the entrance to a building. “With today’s choice of entrance mats it is possible to be creative while also providing a product that is functional in terms of trapping dirt and moisture to keep interior floor surfaces clean and safe,” she said. “Even the smartest of buildings will be compromised if the matting at the entrance is looking tired
or dirty.”

Clean and fresh

Matting needs to be clean and fresh-looking without showing signs of wear, she says. “That is why it is important to specify a matting system that suits the demands of the premises while ensuring the chosen product is sufficiently durable to withstand the volume of footfall,” she said. COBA has developed a mobile application called Entrance Architect to aid this process.

According to Cooke, today’s vibrant colours and striking designs – coupled with the ability to create customised logo mats – can be used to stunning effect. “Whether the customer chooses simple mats, custom-manufactured products in different shapes and sizes, or tiles laid in different configurations to form patterns, entrance matting can be used to great effect when it comes to creating an impressive entrance,” she said.

Visitor welcome

A shabby-looking foyer is simply not welcoming for the customer, she adds. “If the matting is dirty or has become worn, or the pile has been crushed and compacted through wear and tear, it can send out a negative signal to visitors and suggest that standards in the building are not as high as they should be,” she said.

“Furthermore, this type of mat won’t be effective for trapping dirt and moisture nor will it perform efficiently in terms of keeping floors clean. And it will compromise hygiene while also potentially increasing the chances of slip-related accidents.”

Investing in a good entrance matting system can help to prolong the lifespan of interior floor surfaces and coverings, says Cooke. “It will also reduce the amount of time spent cleaning and other associated costs while playing a crucial part in dirt and hygiene control,” she said.

COBA’s Logomat Precision mats are said to combine a stylish appearance with a heavy-duty polypropylene structure that provides good scrubbing and moisture-wiping capabilities.

According to Cooke, most customers are seeking both function and beauty in the form of attractive, branded mats that also protect floors.

“Branded mats are popular and we have invested in techniques that allow us to integrate logos into many of our entrance mats,” she said. “Mats should no longer be considered boring and should be factored into the overall design of a reception area in any building.”

Country manager of Mountville Mills Arnaud Dewitte agrees first impressions are paramount. “People make up their minds about someone in the first seven seconds of their meeting – and the same can be said of entrances,” he said. “When we judge a store, restaurant or hotel we often use the floor as a reference point for overall hygiene.

“Matting solutions will help to keep your facility clean and safe, but the state of the mat is also very important.”

He says low-cost mats often have a low pile that are ineffective at trapping dirt and water and allow these substances to be tracked back inside. “In addition, a lot of cheap matting solutions contain PVC which will curl up, break and quickly gain a very worn appearance which will give your customers a negative impression,” he said.

“Colours, design and messages will all make a good impression whereas a badly maintained, worn-out mat will not be looked upon favourably. And if the borders are breaking off, the colours are faded or the mat is torn or worn, the visitor will wonder why.”

All Mountville Mills mats can be laundered and are said to be resistant to oils, grease and chemicals. The company’s matting options include Colorstar and Waterhog products that allow for a detailed logo print.

An important function of any mat is to communicate professionalism according to Alexander Glatzer, senior floorcare product manager at CWS.

“Visitors quickly form an opinion about the rest of the facility based on a well-maintained entrance space, so the mat should create a sense of well-being, appreciation and welcome,” he said.

Orientation function

“Mats can also indicate the way to important features such as lifts, reception areas, information desks and tills. They guide visitors through a building and help them find their way, giving them a sense they are being well looked after.”

On the other hand, an entrance area that is dirty or neglected will cause visitors to associate those qualities with the business as a whole, he says. “Multifaceted mat systems are an effective way of preventing issues such as the visible appearance of dirt, dull stone floors and worn carpets,” he said.

According to Glatzer, rental mats help to ensure a building’s entrance retains a smart, clean appearance. “While many mats will retain their well-maintained look for a long time, regular washing is still necessary,” he said. “Businesses renting dust control mats no longer need to bother themselves with the ongoing care of the products: mats are simply collected, reprocessed and delivered again. And worn-out mats are replaced which means good aesthetics are guaranteed at all times.”

CWS offers a mat rental service and takes on responsibility for the life cycle of its products. The company’s mats can be printed in a wide range of colours in almost any design and be made to a customised shape.

“Curved mats add new energy to spaces while also being able to accommodate unusual structural features,” he said. “And mats can also be employed outdoors for effective dirt and moisture management.”

He claims that multi-coloured mats in different shapes have been in high demand for years. “They tell you a lot about the corporate culture of a company: brands that are dynamically communicated to the outside world no longer stop at letterheads but are making their way on to the matting systems,” he said.

“And there is a growing trend towards the use of mats for orientation within buildings - mats that point the way to lifts or used to designate certain areas for example.”

On the other hand, more conservative businesses are still opting for elegant, timeless models such as dark grey dust control mats, says Glatzer. “The reasons for using mats are as varied and multifaceted as the mats themselves: safety, cleanliness, floorcare and reduced cleaning costs,” he said.

So, should matting manufacturers prioritise aesthetics over functionality? Mountville Mills’ Arnaud Dewitte says there is no reason why a mat cannot look good while also being highly functional.

“It’s our belief that a customer should not have to compromise: they can have an attractive mat that also gives the best possible floor protection,” he said.

Alexander Glatzer from CWS says aesthetics and functionality share equal importance. “Making a good impression on visitors can secure the success of a business, while protecting valuable floors avoids expensive costs and also contributes to this good impression,” he said.

Safety role

“However, mats have other important functions as well: they help to increase safety by reducing the risk of slipping and they make less work for the cleaning staff which in turn helps to cut costs.”

COBA’s Danielle Cooke agrees health and safety should be high on the list of priorities when installing a matting system. “Having a mat in place that controls the ingress of dirt and moisture is imperative – and to achieve this, matting needs to be correctly specified and regularly cleaned and maintained,” she said. “And if it looks good too, so much the better.

“With today’s choices it is possible to achieve both these things in a cost-effective manner and have the best of both worlds – individual, custom-designed matting combined with functionality and a good cleaning performance.”


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