Mats and walk-off systems are important components of commercial buildings that are often overlooked. These systems help to keep buildings clean and safe by preventing dirt, debris and moisture from being tracked inside.  

Mats: Efficient dirt and moisture trapping  

Mats are one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce dirt and moisture in commercial buildings. They can be placed at the entrance of the building, as well as in high-traffic areas such as lobbies and hallways. Mats are available in various materials, including rubber, carpet and vinyl, and can be customised to fit any size, shape or decor. 

Walk-off systems: comprehensive approach 

As a more comprehensive approach to keeping buildings clean and safe, these systems consist of a series of mats and grates that are placed at the entrance of a building. The mats and grates are designed to scrape, brush and absorb dirt and moisture from shoes, effectively removing up to 90% of dirt and debris before it enters the building. When choosing mats and walk-off systems, it is important to consider the specific needs of the building.  

Three-zone system  

Zone 1: Exterior entrance matting 

Outdoor barrier matting needs to be fit for purpose, to handle the specific climatic conditions. The type of “typical” footwear that will pass over also needs to be considered. This mat needs to have good scraper properties to remove any heavy soil from footwear before entering the building. Open construction entrance matting enables debris to fall through, leaving the surface free of hazards. 

Zone 2: Primary interior entrance matting 

Placed after the exterior matting, this zone’s matting needs to be tough and durable to remove the most damaging debris such as soil, grit and moisture. 

Zone 3: Secondary interior entrance matting 

Final drying and dust removal are achieved with the secondary interior entrance matting. 

Top tip: If the budget is limited and does not allow for the zoning system, primary interior entrance matting is the best option to use. 

Things to consider 

People don’t usually wipe their feet when entering public buildings such as shopping centres. The walk-off matting must allow a minimum of about six footsteps, to allow moisture and debris to wipe off as people walk. The length of the matting is therefore a key consideration for optimal moisture-wiping performance. 

The amount of daily footfall also impacts the length of matting required: 

  • Low: Less than 80 people per hour would need a minimum of 3-4 metres. 
  • Medium: Up to 400 people per hour needs 6-7 metres. 
  • High: Approximately 800 people per hour requires a minimum of 8-10 metres. 
  • Heavy duty: About 2 500 people per day demands a minimum of 9-12 metres. 

Installation 

Commercial entrance matting should not in any way restrict disabled access. Many commercial entrance mattings systems, for example aluminium, are designed to be installed in recessed matwells. Where there is no recessed matwell, bevelled edging should prevent trip hazards. 

In sunlit entrances, confirm the entrance mat’s ultraviolet (UV) resistance with the manufacturer to reduce fading. Certain colours and materials are better suited to sunny areas than others.  

Maintenance 

It is important to regularly maintain mats and walk-off systems to ensure their effectiveness. Mats should be vacuumed or washed regularly; and walk-off systems should be inspected for damage or wear and tear.  

Aesthetics 

Beyond functionality, mats and matting systems are the first thing visitors see when entering a building. Choosing colours that complement the décor helps connect the entrance to the rest of the building. 

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to https://www.matting.co.za for the information in this editorial. 

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