Why it pays to choose the right entrance matting
06 March 2014
When it comes to floor maintenance, prevention is so much cheaper than cure. So why is the choice of entrance matting often a false economy? Sue Poole, marketing manager at 3M Building & Commercial Services, reveals how, by specifying the right product for your building, you can significantly reduce your annual floor cleaning and maintenance costs and hazard risks
From the moment the doors open on a gleaming new office building, retail outlet, hotel or leisure centre, the battle with dirt and moisture begins. 85% of it is tracked into buildings on the soles of shoes – around 0.58g per person on a dry day, multiplied up to 10 times in wet conditions. Keeping this dirt and moisture out is the key to holding down cleaning costs, while maintaining a safe and welcoming environment. Yet, for many architects and facilities managers, specifying entrance matting remains little more than an afterthought, with selection based primarily or even solely on unit cost, in the mistaken belief that almost any mat placed inside a building’s entrance will do the job.
In fact choosing the wrong matting can cost you dear. In addition to the obvious wear and tear on expensive stone and marble flooring, dirt and moisture increases the risk of slips, trips and subsequent compensation claims and on textile floor coverings 95% of appearance problems are caused by tracked in dirt. Fortunately, there are a number of simple steps you can take to ensure that the entrance matting you choose is working as hard as possible to prevent dirt and moisture entering your building.
Location, location, location
To be fit for purpose, entrance matting should be specified to meet the particular demands of the building’s location, traffic levels and local weather. In city centres, for example, dirt tends to be finer, whilst in rural locations footwear is likely to carry in more moisture and larger dirt particles. Traffic levels need to be calculated on the total number of crossings per day rather than the total number of building occupants – a shopping centre will require a harder-wearing solution than a small office building, and prevailing local weather conditions, especially rainfall, should be considered given that wet and slippery floor surfaces pose a major health hazard.
Entrance matting normally consists of two ‘zones’ – a primary (external) scraper matting system and a secondary (internal) zone of moisture-grabbing matting. For the scraper matting, traditional cut pile and coir fibres solutions tend to be a false economy as they allow dirt and moisture to sit on top and be tracked into the building. The latest solutions use innovative technology such as 3M’s dual fibre loop system which is much more effective in trapping, hiding and retaining dirt. When combined with hard-wearing aluminium frames, these high performance fibres provide a highly durable barrier to dirt in extreme traffic areas, while retaining excellent appearance over time. In the secondary zone, dual fibre loop pile is again recommended over cut pile for its ability to absorb and retain more moisture and fine dirt particles. It is also more durable – 3M™Nomad™ Optima+ Entrance Matting comes with a 5-year warranty.
How much is enough?
When deciding how much matting you need, the aim is to maximise the number of footfalls on the entrance matting to reduce the amount of walked-in dirt. Research by 3M reveals that a 1.5 metre stretch of matting will typically remove 30 percent of dirt, rising to 95% on a 9 metre run. A realistic target should be a length of at least 6 metres of effective matting which will deliver 85% dirt and moisture removal, after which diminishing returns begin to set in.
Recessed or surface-mounted?
Installation, cleaning and maintenance costs should all be factored into your choice of matting. Free standing drop down mats are easy to install and maintain and are available with vinyl backing to cushion and protect indoor floor surfaces, or open-backed for ease of cleaning in-situ – you simply roll-up, clean and roll-back. Interior recessed wells offer the ultimate in streamlined good looks, however they are costly to excavate during building renovation and entrance refurbishment. To address this issue new ultra-slim mats are now available which comply with disability access standards. They combine the performance advantages of aluminium-framed matting with the convenience of a drop down mat and can be easily installed over existing floor finishes, minimising cost and disruption.
Rent or buy?
Rental matting can be another false economy. The risk is that you end up with mats of questionable age and efficiency, which have been poorly treated and maintained. This increases the likelihood of tracked in dirt and water, leading to higher cleaning bills. Purchasing your entrance matting gives you the reassurance of owning new fit-for-purpose matting – without the extra admin or regular disturbances associated with renting. You’ll pay more up front – but you’ll make substantial savings over the five-year life cycle of a high-performance mat.
The costs of under-specifying
The savings to be made from the cost of cleaning alone should be a major factor in choosing entrance matting which will stop dirt and water at the door. Research carried out by 3M shows that it can cost up to £500 to remove just 1kg of tracked in dirt. For a building with a daily footfall of 1,000 people who could bring in 150kg of dirt per annum, the cost of cleaning is £75,000 per annum. If you add the cost of repairs to damaged floors, compensation claims due to slips and trips, the whole life cost benefits of choosing fit for purpose high performance entrance matting are clear.