Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

25 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
273 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best chair mats for carpeted floors

Last Updated April 2019

Chair mats might seem mundane, but they can play a big role in preserving the health of your joints and the beauty of your carpet or hardwood. Flooring manufacturers have realized this for a while, sometimes declaring warranties void for customers who don’t use chair mats. They know that office chair wheels can snag carpets and damage floors.

But chair mats aren’t just good for floors. They’re good for you, too. Chair mats greatly reduce the effort needed to roll and reach different parts of your workspace. Not only that, but over time pushing to roll a chair over carpet all day, every day, can lead to leg strain, back pain, and other injuries. If that’s not enough incentive, a chair mat protects your carpet from coffee and food stains, too.

A chair mat shouldn’t break the bank, but you want something with the quality to protect your carpet and your legs. Let BestReviews help you find the right chair mat to keep your budget and your floor in good shape. If you’re ready to buy, check out our top picks, too.

The typical office worker rolls the casters on the chair several hundred times during an average eight-hour workday. That’s a lot of wear and tear on a carpet!

Key considerations

Thickness

It’s important to consider the thickness of your carpet when choosing a chair mat. Thinner, less expensive mats might work with low-pile carpeting, but chair mats are prone to bending – and eventually cracking – on carpets that are heavily padded or have a thicker pile. In fact, mat thickness is one factor in determining quality. The recommended mat thickness varies slightly depending on the material used to make the mat.

  • 2.5 millimeters: The lowest-quality mats measure about 0.10 inch thick and are intended for use with hard flooring surfaces.

  • 3.0 millimeters: Standard mats are around 0.125 inch thick. Low-pile carpets need a mat of this thickness or more.

  • 5.0 millimeters: High-end mats measure around 0.20 inch thick. Medium-pile carpets work best with chair mats around 0.19 inch thick. If you have a carpet with a very thick pile, plan on buying a chair mat that is thicker than this.

Size

You also want to think about the size of the area you want the mat to protect. Many mats are rectangular, but some feature an asymmetrical lip that protects the area under your feet. Are there filing cabinets in the area that you also need to access by rolling the chair? The answer to that will help you determine the size and shape of chair mat that you need.

Color

Finally, think about how your chair mat coordinates with the rest of your office. Do you want a clear, understated mat that lets your carpeting show through? Are you interested in a patterned mat to offer a visual break from the carpet? Or is a wooden mat more your style? We discuss the advantages of different materials in the next section.

EXPERT TIP

Metal wheels or casters can cause chair mats to break down more quickly. Consider replacing metal casters with plastic ones.


Staff  | BestReviews

Chair mat features

Most chair mats are transparent to allow the carpet’s color or pattern to show through, but mats are made of several different clear materials.

Vinyl or PVC

Chair mats made of vinyl or PVC are usually the least expensive. They’re lightweight, so they’re easy to put in place. Unfortunately, many are so lightweight that they might not stay in place at your desk. A mat made of PVC or vinyl can work well on carpets with low-pile, densely packed fibers, but it’s likely to bow, bend, and crack on higher-pile, loosely packed carpeting. A mat that’s too thin can also allow compression marks from the chair feet or casters to form in the carpet. Plus, the edges of thinner mats made of these materials are prone to curling.

Polycarbonate

Many mid-grade chair mats are made of polycarbonate, which is a heavy-duty polymer used in some airplane windows. Polycarbonate doesn’t discolor, crack or curl like cheaper materials. Unlike tempered glass, polycarbonate is completely shatterproof; and it’s much lighter in weight and easy to set in place.

Still, polycarbonate isn’t without its drawbacks. Many polycarbonate chair mats remain flat and level on plush carpet, but thinner mats have been known to bow or allow chair wheels to sink slightly.

Tempered Glass

Some high-quality chair mats are made of tempered glass. The strength of this material makes it a good pick for both chairs and users who are heavier than average. Tempered glass is completely flat and smooth, so it’s ergonomically easier on your joints than other materials. And unlike other mat materials, tempered glass doesn’t bow or sink into plush carpet, buckle or dent under pressure, or curl at the edges.

Tempered glass chair mats are heavier, so they won’t slide like PVC or vinyl. This is good news once your mat is in place, but could be bad news for getting it there. While tempered glass is very strong, it can still shatter if it’s hit on an edge with a strong, hard object. However, this happens infrequently, and when it breaks, the glass cracks into small, interlocking pieces rather than large, sharp shards.

Other materials

Some chair mats are made of natural materials like wood or sisal. These mats are often available in a variety of colors and can give an office a high-end, contemporary look. While attractive, these mats can lack the longevity of mats made of synthetic materials. Order with caution, especially in high-use workspaces.

Other factors

  • Studs: Mats intended for use on carpeting should have small studs on the underside that hold onto the carpet without causing damage.

  • Antistatic: Protect computers and other electronics from damage or data loss caused by static electricity with an antistatic chair mat.

  • Antimicrobial: Some chair mats are designed to resist mold or mildew and prevent degradation of the material.

Some chair mats are made of old water and soda bottles or other recycled materials.

Staff
BestReviews

Chair mat prices

Inexpensive: Low-priced chair mats cost between $30 and $50. In this price range, the mats are usually made of vinyl or PVC. The price climbs within the range based on the mat’s thickness and size. Some in this price range might not have the studs needed to stay in place on carpets, so check carefully before ordering.

Mid-range: These chair mats generally cost between $50 and $100. Most of the chair mats in this range are made of thicker, higher-quality PVC or polycarbonate. Again, the price increases within the range based on thickness and size. All these mats should have studs or nonskid backing to stay in place.

Expensive: The best chair mats cost $100 or more. Most of these are made of polycarbonate or tempered glass, although there are a few large PVC mats. At this price, mats should measure at least 0.187 inch thick, have studs, and may have beveled edges to help prevent stress fractures.

DID YOU KNOW?

Charles Darwin was a pioneer in office chair technology. He attached wheels to his desk chair so he could spend less time reaching his specimens.

Tips

  • Measure the space correctly. When you measure your flooring, don’t include the portion covered by the desk. Chair mats aren’t designed for use under the desk and may crack. Instead, buy a mat with a lip.

  • Be careful when you open a rolled chair mat. Some are packed very tightly and may unroll quickly and forcefully. And be patient. Chair mats can take up to 24 hours to fully unroll and flatten.

  • Air out the mat before use. Vinyl and PVC mats can release chemical odors, at least at first. Keep this in mind if scents and gases trigger breathing problems or other reactions.

  • Order a mat designed for use with carpeting. Some mats are intended for use on hard flooring. Chair mats intended for hard flooring don’t have studs and are more prone to sliding.

Other products we considered

If you’re feeling spendy and want something luxurious, consider the Cleartex Glaciermat. It’s made of tempered glass, so it won’t bend, bow, or curl. The mat’s weight keeps it from slipping and makes it a good choice for heavier chairs and users. It should have a longer lifespan than mats made of lower-quality materials, but you’ll pay the difference up front. If tempered glass is too expensive, the polycarbonate Starcounters Desk Chair Mat may better fit your budget. It has great grips on the bottom and can handle significant amounts of weight without bending or cracking. It’s odorless, but it might be a better size for a home office than a full-size workstation.

Wheeled office chairs became popular in the 1800s and were designed so that clerical workers could roll between work areas without using up valuable time by standing and walking.

FAQ

Q. How do I know what kind of pile my carpet has?
A.
If you didn’t install the carpet, you might not know. But you can measure it. Grab a paperclip, straighten one end, and stick it into the carpet. Make sure it pokes through the backing and reaches all the way down to the floor. Pinch the paperclip where it’s even with the carpet, being careful not to push the fibers down, and then pull the clip out of the carpet. Measure from your fingers to the tip of the paperclip. That measurement will help you determine your carpet’s pile. Low-pile carpets measure 0.25 inch thick or less, and medium-pile carpets measure between 0.31 and 0.75 inch thick. High-pile carpets measure more than 0.75 inch thick.

Q. My chair mat shipped in a roll. What’s the best way to unpack it so that it lies flat?
A.
Some vinyl, PVC, and even a few polycarbonate mats are shipped rolled up. It can be a daunting task to unpack and flatten one, especially if it’s large. First, take your mat to the room where you want to use it. Unpack it and carefully cut any bands holding the roll together. Give the mat time to warm to room temperature to make it easier to unroll. When the mat has reached room temperature, kneel on it and slowly unroll it. If the mat is too large to unroll while kneeling, place a heavy object on one end. Once it’s unrolled, place heavy, flat objects like books on the corners to help the mat flatten. Placing the mat near a sunny window can warm up the mat and hasten the flattening process.

Q. Can I clean my chair mat?
A.
Chair mats are great for keeping dirt off your carpet, but all the dirt has to go somewhere. You’ll want to clean your chair mat to prevent discoloration and keep from tracking dirt across other parts of your carpet. You can clean both sides of the mat with a damp cloth and a mixture of mild soap and water. Use a toothbrush or other small brush to gently clean around the studs on the underside. Carefully rinse both sides and allow the mat to dry fully before putting it back in place.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey