Ordering an office chair mat doesn't usually conjure up thoughts of forming a committee to investigate the options and weigh the pros and cons, but buying a chair mat still requires some decisions to be made and some investigation.
Size and Composition of the Workspace
The layout of the workspace needs to be assessed and measured. The majority of office chair mats have a lip that needs to slide under the desk in the area that the chair rolls under the desk. The space between the legs of the desk or table needs to be measured to be sure that the lip in the chair mat will fit under the desk. The floor covering also needs to be taken into consideration--a mat for hardwood or tile floors is different than that of a low-pile carpet, which is different than that of a high-pile carpet. For example: A mat that is going to be on a high-pile carpet must be of a much thicker material to avoid the weight of a person in a chair making indentations into the mat with the wheels of the chair. The amount of use of the area should also be taken into consideration. If this is going to be a mat that is used for several hours a day with the chair rolling back and forth across it very often, a better quality of material needs to be considered.
The Chair Mat Material
Chair mats are made out of several different types of materials and each is suited to different applications. Vinyl mats are good for most office situations and are the most common material for chair mats, but they are also made out of acrylic, bamboo and solid wood parquet flooring. Wood and bamboo chair mats are becoming more in demand since they are made from renewable resources. Wooden and bamboo mats are very sturdy and come in a variety of finishes, much like hardwood finishes that can add a touch of warmth to an office decor. Vinyl and acrylic mats are usually somewhat see-through, which appeals to those who do not want to disrupt the color in a room or who want to see the flooring below. Whichever material is decided upon, it should be practical and functional and made of quality materials. Cheap or thin materials will not last very long and you will be replacing the mat much sooner than with a better-quality mat.
Chair Mats for Carpeted Areas
When choosing a chair mat for a carpeted area, the depth of the carpet must be considered. It is important to get a mat that is sturdy enough for the carpet that it will be sitting on and that the spikes that are on chair mats are long enough to hold the mat in place, but not so long that they go through the carpet and hit the floor. To measure the depth of a carpet, straighten out a paper clip and insert one end deep into the carpet. Be sure to wiggle it down so that it goes through the carpet and any padding and touches the floor underneath. Mark the depth of the carpet with your finger on the paperclip and pull it back out of the carpet. Measure the distance from your finger to the end of the paperclip to find the depth of the carpet. When purchasing the mat, be sure the spikes are about half that length.
To Bevel or Not to Bevel the Chair Mat Edges
Choosing whether to purchase a beveled-edge chair mat depends on how often the chair will be rolled off of the mat onto the floor. A beveled edge makes a small ramp that helps to transition the chair from the floor to the top of the chair mat. If the chair will be moved around a lot, getting a beveled edge is recommended.
Anti-Static Chair Mats
If the workstation is set up with a lot of electronics or the person who will be using the station will be working with or on electronic equipment, getting an anti-static chair mat may be necessary. If an anti-static work area is needed, be sure to check the label.