Chair mats are used to provide a hard surface on which a chair can move easily. Such a mat is often placed on a carpet, and chairs with wheels or casters can more easily move around the mat than they would otherwise move on the carpet. The most common chair mats are made of plastic and feature a smooth surface on the top side and a dimpled surface on the bottom to provide traction on a variety of surfaces. Such mats can be used on hardwood floors as well to prevent scratching or pitting of the floor as a result of the wheels moving on it.
The shape of the chair mats will vary, as will the size. Some mats are designed to fit partially underneath a desk, while others are simply squares placed in front of the desk. The size of the mat will often dictate the price, as will the materials used to make the mat. Plastic chair mats are usually the cheapest option, and while they tend to be somewhat heavy, they are effective at staying in place and providing a durable flat surface for the chair. Plastic mats can be bought at an office supply store or furniture store for a low price.
The downside of plastic chair mats is their appearance: they are not generally considered attractive pieces. Bamboo chair mats were developed to counter this problem. Such mats are made from thin slats of bamboo, which is a lightweight and attractive material that provides a much more pleasing aesthetic than plastic. Many bamboo mats can even be rolled up for easy storage, since the slats are often sewn together or otherwise secured in such a way that rolling is possible. Other woods are available as well, though depending on the type of wood used, the price of the mat can go up fairly significantly.
The shape of the mat will also have an effect on price. Square mats and mats designed to fit partially underneath desks are the most common, but other shapes are possible. Some mats are round, while others feature a more custom shape to accommodate the most common movements of the chair. Such cuts are often more expensive, since straight cuts are easier to manufacture and therefore less expensive. Some round and odd shaped mats will also feature a lip that extends underneath the desk to prevent the front wheels of the chair from falling off the mat onto the floor.