The problems with aluminium mats
Why aluminium mats aren't always the best choice, and what might be better
Aluminium mats have long been the first choice for architects. They look classy and they sparkle in the light, what more could you want for your new building? Unfortunately, there is more you could want – and aluminium mats are not the best option for everyone.
It was initially their bi-level construction that caught the building industry’s eye. Bi-level surfaces scrape shoes very effectively and hold the removed dirt and debris in the lower levels.
Now, that design can be found in other materials, aluminium mats might not be the best option anymore. Mainly because they can cause a lot of problems. Safety, practicality and environmental concerns are just a few of their disadvantages.
We are dedicated to bringing you the most relevant information – including when our products might not suit you best. So, here are the problems with aluminium mats.
The main reason we use mats is to make our floors safer, so safety concerns are the main reason we do not recommend aluminium mats to everyone. There are a few ways that aluminium is less safe than other materials, but most significant is its lack of non slip.
If you are planning on laying an entrance mat loose on the floor, it needs to have some sort of non slip backing. Rubber is the ideal material for this because it naturally creates friction with the ground.
Aluminium mats can be fitted into a recess to remove part of their slip hazard potential, but their surface is still slippery, so this is not ideal either. Aluminium mats also tend to kick up when stepped on, making them not just a slip hazard, but a trip hazard as well.
The material you probably think of as being bad for the environment is plastic. You might be shocked to find out that aluminium is as bad, if not worse, for the planet than plastic. The impact of making aluminium depends on the product, and we can only speak for mats.
Aluminium is toxic for aquatic life, as it reduces animals’ ability to regulate electrolytes, which can be fatal. This also affects the mammals and birds that eat them. Aluminium also cannot be recycled nearly as easily as some companies would have you think.
For environmental reasons, we only recommend aluminium mats for buildings that are likely to stay the same for a while. In some cases, we would even suggest that plastic is a more sustainable option.
One problem that people don’t usually consider is that aluminium mats can be noisy. Depending on the floor underneath, aluminium can make a horrible clanging sound. Pair this with a high ceiling and you have a very distracting noise reverberating around the room.
If you are looking for mats to fit in an office, commercial entrance or customer-facing area, noisy mats might not be the best option for you. There are ways you can reduce the noise, though, if you do still have your heart set on some aluminium entrance mats.
Adding a rubber backing to an aluminium mat can prevent loud clanging and make the mat safer to walk on. You could also pin down your mat in other ways – check out our article on preventing mats from moving around for more ideas.
A lack of absorbency is technically also a safety feature, but it is the number one grievance that building managers have with aluminium mats. Water entering the building and causing damage and a slip hazard is a huge problem – especially here in Australia – so entrance mats need to combat that.
Absorbent carpet-surfaced mats are ideal for inside entrances, as they remove water from the soles of shoes and hold it on their surface. For that reason, we almost always recommend absorbent entrance mats.
Aluminium mats might still suit you if your building is in a very dry area. If water is rare, you can always invest in a roll out absorbent mat to bring out if rain is forecasted. We also stock one aluminium mat with a carpet infillto give you the best of both worlds.
Who should avoid aluminium mats
If you want to use mats to keep your floors dry, or you’re looking for a non slip safety solution, aluminium is not your best option. Specific buildings that we would advise against using aluminium mats include:
- Museums and public buildings
- Warehouses and factories
- Residential buildings in wet areas
What to use instead of aluminium
Instead of choosing aluminium for its look, decide what your specific requirements are. For inside entrances in wet areas, choose a mat with an absorbent surface. Absorbing water from the soles of shoes keeps floors dry and people safe while walking.
For outside entrances in wet areas, an absorbent surface will not be enough. While carpet-surfaced entrance mats are great for small volumes of water (such as is on the soles of shoes), they will not hold infinite quantities.
Rubber mats with holes allow water to drain through, preventing the water from pooling on the surface while raising people above it to prevent slips. A combination of both rubber outside mats and absorbent inside mats make the safest entrances and keep floors inside cleanest.
For a natural look that is sustainable and stylish, coir entrance mats are the best option. Coir is a by-product of the coconut industry, so using it to create mats prevents it from ending up in a landfill.
Whatever your material, you want to make sure your entrance mats have great scraping abilities. Coir, carpet and rubber can all be made to effectively scrape the soles of shoes – which means less cleaning, fewer accidents and less unsightly floors.
The problems with aluminium mats
Aluminium mats are loved by architects because of their high shine and dirt-removal properties. They aren’t always the best option, though, so consider whether another material can do the job better.
For a personalised recommendation or help with any of our products, feel free to reach out to the matxperts using the chat function below!