Entrance mats are a vital feature of any modern building. Not only do they increase the aesthetic appeal of an entryway, they also assist in preventing the build-up of dust and debris and reduce the likelihood of slips and falls. Further to this they reduce cleaning time and costs. These products are remarkably durable and effective when installed correctly, however the importance of the mat well is neglected all too often. Rebated entrance mats are designed to sit flush with the surface – but this is not possible when you have an uneven, poorly finished mat well. Unfortunately, this is something that is witnessed regularly.

Why Is an Accurate Mat Well so Important?

The accuracy of the mat well is crucial to the longevity and proper functionality of the product that is to be laid within it. A flat, rigid object such as an aluminium entrance matting requires an even surface if it is to function as intended. Uneven surfaces cause issues such as creaking and rocking under foot traffic, which can be quite disconcerting for the user. It can also result in the matting becoming uneven, presenting a trip hazard and/or result in ‘trolley damage’ to the mat. Neither wof these issues are acceptable, so it’s important that due care is taken during the construction of the mat well.

A Common Issue

The customer interface team at Classic Architectural Group, a leading supplier of entrance matting, witnesses first hand the struggles that clients go through when installing entrance matting. What should be a simple process ends up becoming a drawn out, irritable affair. All too often it is seen that the customer placing the blame on the product itself, when in fact the issue is caused by the sloppy, inaccurate set down created by the contractor.

If you were to walk around Australia’s CBD areas, you would find a staggering amount of entrance mats that have been poorly installed. They creak and shift underfoot, and the problem usually becomes worse over time. Again, this has little to do with the quality or brand of the product, but rather the set down into which it was placed.

To ensure safety of pedestrians accessing these high traffic public spaces, a greater care and attention needs to be paid to the accuracy and finish of entrance mat set downs by the teams that are responsible for it.

Creating the Perfect Set Down

Every product is unique, but in the case of aluminium entrance mats there are a few key requirements. As an example, mats similar to Classic’s Integra Vantt 5500, the original market-proven entrance mat, and one of the most popular products in our range, installation requires 12mm below floor coverings, and in many cases, this can be achieved without casting a set down at all.

Depending upon the surrounding floor finish, it may be possible to engage the services of a flooring contractor who can feather up the substrate, thus raising the level slightly. This would create sufficient set down once the floor covering is laid, resulting in a simplified, neat and tidy installation.

You always need to consider the other materials used during installation, such as adhesive. Naturally, this will impact the level of the product that is to be placed on top. For example, you might use 10mm tiles, but after the glue has been applied the set down will be around 12mm. In the case of carpet tiles, they may require 2-3mm of feathering up to the recess to create the required 12mm set down.

If there is no floor covering at all, then you can cast the mat set down into the concrete. At the time of pouring, the set down should be created several millimetres deeper than required. This will allow any errors to be corrected by a skilled tradesman who can screed up to the level required, ensuring that the required depth is reached. Before the concrete sets, it is important to check that the frame sides are straight and that the corners are at the correct angles.

No matter which method is used, the simple fact remains – accuracy and a good finish is crucial to the quality installation of an aluminium entrance mat. It is not difficult to achieve a perfect result, it just takes a little bit of time, effort and due care.

Perhaps a potential issue worth noting is the lack of an allocation of cost towards creating good quality mat set downs. It could be a case that most project managers do not allocate a sufficient budget to this. If there is no cost allocated to the job, then it makes sense that the ownership of the task becomes muddied and the subsequent quality of the mat well suffers.

The Way Forward

A wide range of individuals will encounter entrance mats daily, making it imperative that they are installed correctly. No one should have to deal with uneven surfaces that shift and creak under foot, especially when these issues are so easily preventable. Closer attention needs to be paid to set down requirements and the quality of the finish. By adopting a few simple techniques, it is possible to achieve a perfect set down every time. An accurate set down ensures that the product sits flush, allowing it to function as intended and extending the service life of the product.

Entrance mats are a highly effective products when installed properly. This is an important yet ignored issue, but small steps such as inclusion of cost for creating good quality mat set downs at the tendering stage can help the industry produce better results and make public access spaces safe well into the future.