Can you keep your coir doormat outside?
There are few things coir can’t do. It looks great. It cleans shoes so well. Our favourite thing about coir mats is that they are great for the environment. Coir is a by-product of the coconut industry, and it would sit in a heap to biodegrade if it wasn’t used.
Every time a coir entrance mat is bought, that’s a mat made of plastic or rubber that stays on the self. But, recently, many of our customers have been asking if they can keep their coir doormat outside. To which, the answer is complicated.
While coir itself is absorbent, durable and just the perfect mat all-rounder, some mats are just not suited for the outdoors.
Coir mats with plastic backing cannot go outside
When you ask the question "can coir mats be used outside", what you are really asking is "can coir mats get wet". Whether coir will face problems in water depends on the backing of the mat.
Coir mats are often backed onto PVC, which reacts differently to coir when it gets wet. Being so absorbent, coir expands as it fills with water. Plastic does not.
As the surface of a coir mat begins to expand, and the PVC backing stays the same, it begins to bend out of shape. The resulting shape is a rippled surface that looks unattractive and creates a trip hazard.
Not only is a rippled coir mat unsightly and unsafe, but it is also likely to contribute to the deterioration of your mat. That means your mat will need replacing sooner and won’t work as well until you do.
All this damage can be avoided by choosing the right mat for the right situation. A coir mat with rubber backing is perfect for inside or outside under shelter, but there are other coir options that work well outside.
So what should you do if you want to use a coir mat for your outdoor area?
Pure coir mats can go outside
Coir’s absorbency makes it fantastic for keeping floors dry. As well as being an effective shoe-dryer, coir fibres are resistant to mould, so you don’t need to worry about drying it out every time it rains.
Even seawater is no problem for coir, so it is the perfect material for a mat in any outdoor area. Just not if it has a PVC backing.
The traditional method of making mats from coir was to weave the edges. Weaving prevents fraying, holds the mat together and removes the need for a backing at all. We have kept to the traditional style in our scrapers such as the Coir Scraper Mat with Woven sides.
If you want to use a coir doormat inside or outside, go for that one. Although it won’t ripple, there is one change that happens to even heavy duty coir door mats outside.
Coir matting darkens in the elements
While rippling is something that never works out well, there is one issue with using coir as outside matting that many people don’t mind dealing with. When coir is left in the sun, it naturally darkens over about 9-12 months.
When coir gets wet, it also darkens naturally. Unlike the darkening caused by the sun, this will disappear as soon as the mat dries thoroughly. It is important to note this in areas that will see consistent rain or other water, as the mat may not dry completely.
Darkened coir looks authentically weathered, which is why so many people still love using it outside. It adds to the charm of the rustic, natural look and it does not prevent the mat from doing its job.
If you have a logo printed on your mat, a darkened surface might be a problem for you. For anyone wanting an alternative that looks like coir but won’t darken or ripple, there is another option.
The faux alternative to coir
Anyone wanting a natural looking mat with less hassle and more lifetime, an artificial coir mat might be perfect for you. Our synthetic coco coir mats are not an exact replica of the real deal, but they will look newer for longer.
The artificial coir mats are excellent scrapers perfect for heavy duty environments that see a high footfall. They also look smart and classy, won’t shed and will never bubble up to the ripple effect.
Artificial coir is a highly effective mat, and it is backed onto a recycled rubber backing. If you want something more eco-friendly, however, there are other products that might suit you even better.
Can coir mats be used outside?
Coir mats cannot be used outside if they are made with a plastic backing. Traditional coir mats can be used outside, but you should expect some darkening in the sun and rain.
For more information on why coir is great for the planet and what other options there are, check out our blog about eco-friendly mats.
As always, the Matshop team love hearing how you are getting on with your mats. If you have any concerns or queries feel free to reach out to a Matxpert who will be happy to help.