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Flooring: The Difference Between Entrance Mats & Carpet Tiles


How welcoming is your facility’s entrance? Many factors play a role in welcoming students, tenants, patients, or guests to your building. Flooring is one of those factors.

However, facility managers have so many options when it’s time to renovate or build; it’s not always apparent which choice is the right one: carpet tiles or entrance mats? Each has its advantages, so it’s essential to consider a number of factors before making an investment.

What are Carpet Tiles?
This flooring option has long been the go-to choice for facility managers, designers, and project managers. Carpet tiles consist of modular pieces comprised of nylon or polypropylene carpet affixed to a backing material. The pieces are glued to the floor using corner glue tabs or adhesive. In addition, some manufacturers offer tiles with peel-and-stick installation. Maintenance crews can remove and replace individual tiles as they become damaged or worn.

Carpet tiles are available in a range of options, including ones that are quite economical. The cost savings can be attractive in the short-term, particularly if a project is on a tight budget. This flooring option also offers design versatility; manufacturers make tiles in virtually every color and a range of textures to integrate the flooring into branding elements and create a cohesive environment.

What are Entrance Mats?
This architectural-grade flooring is specifically designed for commercial, industrial, and institutional applications. Entrance mats are comprised of aluminum or vinyl rails that contain inserts made with heavy-duty material, such as durable carpet, abrasive tape, poured abrasive material, or rubber. As foot traffic passes over the mat system, water and debris fall through the rails into a recessed area underneath.

The rails and hinges are engineered with a lightweight material that won’t produce a rattling noise that would otherwise disrupt the facility’s atmosphere. Manufacturers produce rails whose support structures offer a range of depth offerings. The deeper depths store more water and debris underneath, so those are recommended for areas that see frequent bad weather.

Entrance mats are ideal for new construction, but they can also be installed in renovation projects. You can choose to install the systems surface mounted, recessed, or flush with the surrounding floor finishes.

Guide to Choosing between Entrance Mats and Carpet Tiles
When you’re renovating a building or designing a new facility, you likely have priorities that guide how you invest the budget. These questions will help define your entrance priorities, so you can make an informed decision.

Do you want to minimize slip and fall hazards?
Whether you’re managing a busy hospital or a bustling school, safety is a key concern that guides many decisions, including entrance-flooring options. Slip and fall accidents cost organizations time, money, and reputation. For example, they account for 27 percent of workplace injuries that require time off from work.

Carpet tiles aren’t the ideal choice when you want flooring designed to reduce slipping accidents. Water and debris tracked over carpet will sit on the surface, where it decreases friction and increases slipping hazards as it becomes more saturated.

In contrast, entrance mat systems deliver a safer flooring surface. When properly maintained, entrance mats trap debris, water, and snow under the mat’s surface and safely away from foot traffic. This helps maintain traction so the people who use your facility are less likely to slip.

Do you want to maintain a clean facility while keeping maintenance costs down?
It is a fact of facility management that dirt, debris, rain, and snow will work their way into the entrance area. If that area is floored with carpet tiles, those substances sit on the surface, leaving an unsightly mess.

That mess does more than make a negative impression; it also creates extra work for cleaning crews. If weather is particularly bad, the cleaning staff can get locked in a seemingly endless battle to keep the entrance carpet tiles clean. What’s more, since there’s no system for catching dirt, debris, and water, that gunk will be tracked farther into the facility, creating a trail of grime. The extra cleaning time adds up for maintenance crews in both time and resources.

However, entrance-flooring systems are designed to help facility managers maintain a clean entryway. As foot traffic enters the building, water and debris fall between the rails into the recessed area underneath. This reduces the entrance’s grimy, puddled appearance, even in stormy weather.

Entrance flooring systems are also easy to clean. Facility crews simply roll back the entrance mat, and then vacuum water and debris from the recessed area.

Do you need to meet green building goals? 
Consumers, employees, and other stakeholders increasingly want to work, play, and recuperate in buildings that won’t harm their health. In fact, research suggests that people who work and live in LEED-certified buildings are more productive and healthier than those in buildings that aren’t certified.

Carpet tiles and entrance flooring systems are available in green-friendly options that may help facilities earn LEED certification. Entrance mats offer an additional advantage: tracked-in water and debris are unable to become airborne and affect air quality because the substances will fall beneath the floor’s surface.

Do you want entrance flooring that lasts for many years?
Carpet tiles typically don’t hold up well in high-traffic areas, especially those subject to wheeled traffic, like carts or gurneys. Maintenance crews can replace damaged tiles onsite without the need to close off the area; however, replacement tiles often don’t match the rest of the carpet, which may have become faded, worn, or stained. The resulting patchwork can ruin the welcoming and professional look of your entrance.

Dampness is another factor that impacts the durability of carpet tiles. In general, the tiles don’t withstand damp conditions well, making them a less-than-ideal choice for areas that see a lot of rain or snow.

With entrance mat systems, facility managers benefit from architectural-grade materials that hold up under high-traffic, high-abuse applications. Some options can handle rolling loads of up to 1,000 pounds per wheel while maintaining their function and appearance. Plus, since mat systems keep water and debris away from the surface, they’re well suited for entrances frequently exposed to soggy foot traffic.

Do you want a facility you or your tenants will be proud of?
Impressions matter. When it’s time to choose flooring for an entrance, your choices will contribute to that ever-important impression. Carpet tiles are available in many colors and textures, allowing facilities plenty of options for creating an ideal entrance.

But they’re not your only option when you want design versatility. Entrance mat systems come in many colors and textures to add the right aesthetic value to virtually any building. Manufacturers offer customized entrance flooring designs as well, making it easy to integrate into other design elements. In addition to carpet inserts, recycled rubber and poured abrasive insert options are available, and some manufacturers have developed entrance mats inlaid with custom, precision-cut graphics, text, or logos. The designs are integrated into the mat material, so dyes won’t leech from the flooring.

Whether your facility houses high-end clients or entertains elementary aged children, your entrance is guaranteed to take a beating. Invest in an entrance flooring option that delivers what you need to create a safe, durable building that will maintain its function and appearance for many years.

Wade Brown is the Senior Manager of Product Marketing for the Entrance Flooring division at Construction SpecialtiesHe can be reached at