IN today’s fast paced environment, it’s not always possible to explore every surface option available for each project, not least because of budget or practical limitations of the location. And whilst as with all interior design features, design is key, when it comes to choosing an entrance matting system, selecting the right product first time pays dividends down the line.
What could possibly go wrong?
It’s a familiar story. Autumn arrives, bringing with it wind and rain, and most busy entrances quickly turn into a skating rink. And it’s an issue for every building, whether that’s an office, a local store, or a shopping centre.
Sleek tile and wood floor surfaces are the perennial choice for interiors as they look good, are easy to clean and last for years, but they aren’t best bed fellows with water and debris. Slips and trips are still the largest cause of workplace accidents according to the HSE, and 95% of major slips result in broken bones.
Like other floorcoverings, entrance matting comes in many forms, thicknesses, and materials. Installing an entry level ribbed carpet for example into a supermarket, which may have been suitable for a school, will create a headache for you and the client.
Specifying a solution that doesn’t have a decent lifespan for the setting will result in unnecessary waste material, which is bad for the environment, and creates additional and unwelcome costs, which as we know, matters more than ever today, especially in retail. Similarly, fitting an aluminium system in a building with few crossings each day is overspecification.
Another challenge to a successful project is the installation. Aluminium systems are the ‘crème de la crème’ of entrance matting because they are so robust and durable. With these benefits though comes not only a slightly higher investment cost, but more expertise required to successfully install. Bespoke mats are made to size and will often just slot into a matwell, but the installer still needs specialist tools to fix and finish an aluminium mat.
Businesses such as supermarkets also post a challenge due to the need for minimal downtime. However, there are high-quality and effective solutions available that can easily be installed in a few hours, even overnight.
What does effective matting offer?
Hygiene has been at the top of everyone’s agenda for the last 18 months, and the weakest point to any building is the entrance. Simply moving around or between buildings presents the hidden danger of contamination from footwear. According to research published by the CDC, carried out in Wuhan, China, viruses in healthcare settings (including Covid-19) float to the floor and are carried on the shoes of healthcare workers, posing a high contamination risk.
Reduced cleaning costs
Entrance matting can significantly alleviate this problem of walked in contaminants. A well-designed mat, with an adequate walk-off length, captures the dirt and moisture at the door, and can virtually eliminate dirt, debris or moisture being tracked any further into the facility. According to accepted industry figures it can cost £500 to remove 1kg once inside a building. On average, one person can walk-in 0.58 grams of dirt per day (up to 10x this in wet weather). So over 20 days (one working month), 1,000 people would generate 11kg of dirt, the equivalent to £5,800 in potential cleaning costs.
People very rarely stop to wipe their feet in a public building so it’s important to factor in, not just the type of but also the length of matting, and whether the preferred cleaning method works best with an open or closed surface design. Selecting the right matting for specific entrance areas is imperative for effective scraping/wiping benefits and durability. This is where evaluating not only the primary purpose of the matting (i.e., scraping or moisture wiping) but also the level of footfall is essential.
With the right matting in place, a well-planned strategy for regular mat cleaning/maintenance is important for optimum performance, product lifespan and return on investment.
According to the HSE, most accidents occur when floors are wet and dirty. Slips, trips and falls on the same level are one of the most common kinds of non-fatal accidents in the workplace. On average they account for 20% of over-3-day injuries to employees. The cost to employers is £512 million per year (lost production and other costs) in addition £133 million per year to the health service. Legal action brought by claimants is damaging and costly for building owners.
Choosing the right product
We recommend choosing the best quality entrance matting system that the budget will allow, so it lasts and continues to contribute to a high-quality interior finish. Entrance matting is not always regarded as a number one priority, but as already outlined, the benefits outweigh the time and cost of getting it right.
Accessibility is another important factor, and not only is it expected in every building these days, it is a legal requirement. According to BS7935 – the installation needs to consider that the frames don’t sit too proud in the recessed well and nor should the matting sit too high either, as both can be a trip and fall hazard.
As part of the BS8300 the building needs to meet the needs of disabled people. Did you know that it takes 2.5 m for a full revolution of a wheelchair wheel? Therefore, 3m is the minimum matting length wherever possible. Some products, such as Coir matting, are not DDA compliant and some mats will be laid to surface so care needs to be taken into consideration when researching products when specifying.
Don’t zone out just yet!
Zoning can seem confusing and overcomplicated but it’s actually very simple. All buildings have an exterior, some have a vestibule at the entrance, and all have an interior. These are often the basis for three key zones, and they provide an opportunity to build up the length of floor matting to combat dirt and moisture, helping retain that all important interior finish and cleanliness.
The outermost products in zones 1 or 2 will have to do the heavy lifting, dealing with course dirt and/or volumes of moisture. As people walk further into the building, towards zone 3, the type of matting can change to become more absorbent and less course, to finish the wiping process and keeping contaminants at bay.
Some buildings which have clearly defined areas and lots of space whereas others will not, so there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution but using the zoning approach will help you design an effective entrance mat.
If you’re unsure as to the best approach then speak to a matting expert, as experience can make light work of the decision making in this process.
Thankfully as an industry we are getting better at using more sustainable materials although waste is still a major challenge in construction. Many of the products in the COBA range feature our Alba carpet inserts, which are made from ECONYL®, a material created from reclaimed fishing nets and other plastic waste. ECONYL® regenerated nylon performs the same as brand new nylon but is more sustainable and helps clean up our oceans.
The Forest Floor Initiative is our green program, created to contribute to offsetting the unavoidable impact that our work has on the environment. I’m pleased to confirm that COBA is now officially partnered with the National Forest, who will plant at least 20 trees per annum on our behalf. Described as “one of the country’s boldest environmental projects”, The National Forest is transforming the landscape across three Midlands counties, including Leicestershire (where COBA Flooring’s headquarters are located) as well as Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
If your client’s existing entrance matting requires refurbishment, please don’t delay in contacting our entrance matting experts.
01788 228 566