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What Are the Different Types of Chair Mats?

Chair mats come in various materials like vinyl, polycarbonate, and tempered glass, each offering unique benefits for carpeted or hard floors. They also vary in shape, size, and thickness to suit diverse office environments. Understanding the differences can extend your flooring's life and improve your workspace ergonomics. Curious about which mat best fits your office? Let's explore the options together.
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

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.

A desk chair mat is a great addition to ergonomic office furniture.
A desk chair mat is a great addition to ergonomic office furniture.

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.

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Discussion Comments


I have a very large, heavy duty plastic mat. I want to get some suggestions as to what you all think would be the best tool to cut such a strong material? I know if you get it hot it is easy to maneuver, but what would cut this?


I have hardwood floors, so all of my chairs have rubber wheels. This keeps them from damaging the floor.

However, they roll a bit too easily across the smooth wood. Sometimes, I find myself rolling without even trying.

I bought a chair mat to keep my chair in place. The house I live in is old, and the floors slope ever so slightly.

I have seen various things rolling across the floor, like my dumbbells and my dog's tennis ball, so I know that the floors are not straight. I use the mat to keep me from slowly rolling across the room into a wall!


The deep crack in the floor behind my chair at work had been giving me problems for months. After asking for an office chair mat multiple times and not receiving one, I decided to do something about it myself.

I didn't want to go out and buy one, because I felt that the company should do that. Instead, I brought in a very thin, flat welcome mat that I had at home.

It worked just fine to smooth over the hole. My chair even rolled across it more easily than I thought it would.

I think that after seeing my makeshift chair mat, my boss felt bad for me, because he bought me a real one that afternoon. It is even easier to roll across than my flat rug, and I believe it will last longer.


@cloudel – It sounds like you had the same type of cheap computer chair mat that my dad used to have. While it stayed in place fairly well, it just couldn't hold up to all that rolling around, and it developed several weak points.

My dad was overweight, which I'm sure played a part in the plastic chair mat's early demise. When you have extra weight pushing down while rolling around, you have extra stress on the mat.

He replaced it with a much thicker plastic mat. This one will likely be able to stand up better to the stress.


I have one of those bamboo chair mats in my home office. I like it better than my old plastic one, because it matches the décor much better.

Also, the plastic one I had tore fairly easily. It was fairly cheap, and I knew when I bought it that I would be replacing it one day. I just couldn't afford a nice one at the time.

The bamboo mat has a square lip that goes under the desk. The outer edges are square, as well, and you can see each individual slat.

To protect it from the constant weight of my chair, I roll it up and put it in the corner when I'm not using it. I think it will last longer this way.

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    • A desk chair mat is a great addition to ergonomic office furniture.
      By: Stacy Barnett
      A desk chair mat is a great addition to ergonomic office furniture.