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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

34 Models Considered
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220 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Buying guide for best chair mats for hardwood floors

Last Updated October 2019

Hardwood floors are beautiful, long-lasting, and easy to keep clean. They shine up like a champ. Their durability and ease of maintenance have made them a perennial favorite for decades. But the wood can be worn down — sanded, if you will — by the repeated movements of an office chair rolling across the same area again and again. When that happens, it leaves behind a worn patch that is visibly lighter in color than the rest of the wood around it.

Restoring worn-down hardwood to its original color is next to impossible without sanding the whole floor and staining it. That’s not only expensive, but it is also time-consuming. Fortunately, there is a better way: a chair mat.

A chair mat can protect your hardwood floor for pennies on the dollar compared to retroactively restoring it. A wide variety of chair mats exist on the market, with different colors, materials, and sizes available. We can help you find the one that’s right for you. Keep reading, and we’ll walk you through the process of choosing the right chair mat for your hardwood flooring.

A common complaint about chair mats is that the edges curl up. Mats with outer lips don’t suffer from this problem nearly as much as mats without lips.

Key considerations

Size

How big of an area does the chair mat need to protect? Some chair mats have a tongue or protrusion on one side that is meant to protect the floor under a desk, where your feet are. If you have an under-desk footrest, you probably won’t need an extension on the chair mat, but if you don’t, you should definitely consider it.

The layout of your room will also be a determining factor in the size of the chair mat you need. If your office chair resides in cramped quarters with filing cabinets and other office equipment taking up floor space, you’ll need a smaller floor mat. Avoid unnecessary returns by measuring the area where the floor mat will be. Then, just to be on the safe side, order a mat that is an inch or two smaller than your measurements.

Thickness

The thickness of chair mats for hardwood floors isn’t a critical concern unless the manufacturer ships the product rolled up. If that happens, a thicker mat will take longer to flatten than a thinner one. If a chair mat is thicker than 0.1 inches, it is probably meant to be used on carpets and rugs.

Grip

More important than thickness is the grip on the back or underside of the chair mat. If it has little spikes, that means it’s a chair mat for carpets. For hardwood floor protection, the back of the mat needs to be smooth and not slippery. If it slides around on the floor when you’re rolling your chair or when you’re walking on it, it will act like a giant piece of sandpaper against the floor. That will defeat the whole point of having the mat in the first place.

DID YOU KNOW?

Environmentally friendly chair mats are made of plant-based polymers and are certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as bio-based. They are more expensive than plastic mats.

Features

Material

Transparent chair mats are popular because they allow the color of the floor to show through — and if you have hardwood flooring, you likely want to show it off. Not all transparent materials are created equally, however. The same can be said for non-translucent mats.

  • Vinyl: This is one of the least-expensive materials available. It is easy for manufacturers to make vinyl transparent or opaque, so vinyl is widely used for chair mats. It is also very lightweight, so it has a tendency to slip and slide on hardwood floors. If it doesn’t have a non-slip backing, you can still anchor it by putting the legs of your desk on it. Either option would overcome the slipping problem.
  • PVC: This is another inexpensive material that shares some common properties with vinyl. It also shares some problems, like slippage. With the proper backing, however, PVC is a good material for a chair mat.
  • Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate is a tough, naturally transparent plastic that is often used in bullet-proof glass and airplane windows. It is widely used as a lens in glasses and is quite resistant to heat. Chair mats made from polycarbonate are tough and durable. They are also a bit more expensive than vinyl and PVC.
  • Tempered glass: Glass chair mats are completely unbendable. They are transparent and heavy enough to stay in position on any floor. They are also the most expensive material for chair mats. They normally come with extended manufacturer warranties, which is something that other mats usually don’t have.

Color

Transparent floor mats are the most popular, but black mats are also somewhat common. Some manufacturers offer a range of colors spanning the rainbow. However, these are the exception rather than the rule.

Antistatic

Some chair mats are listed as antistatic mats. This is useful if you’re a computer technician repairing or building PCs and laptops. Static discharge can be deadly to exposed computer components, so those technicians need to have a static-free mat under them at all times.

Odor

Plastic mats often have a distinct odor when they first arrive. If a mat is listed as BPA-free, it shouldn’t have any odor to it. If your mat does have an odor, unbox it in an open space (like a garage), and give it 24 hours to air out before putting it in place.

Outer lip

Some chair mats for hardwood floors have a lip around the edge to prevent your chair from rolling off the mat onto the bare floor. Think of it as a roadside curb for your mat. It’s a nice feature, but it can also trip you up when you’re walking around the mat.

Chair mats are sometimes made from rubber compounds that don’t slide on the floor, but the trade-off is that they aren’t transparent.

Chair mats for hardwood floors: prices

Inexpensive: Inexpensive chair mats for hardwood floors generally cost less than $35. These no-frills mats are usually made from vinyl or PVC.

Mid-range: Anything in the range of $40 to $70 is the medium price range. These mats are often made of polycarbonate and will have a much better non-slip backing than the cheaper mats. Some mats in this range may be thicker and larger, too.

Expensive: On the high end of the price range, you’ll find mats that cost more than $70. You might pay up to several hundred for a tempered glass mat. The main determinants of price will be thickness, size, and material.

Tips

  • You don’t need to order thick chair mats for use on hardwood floors. Mats that are one-tenth of an inch thick should suffice.
  • Mats that are rolled up for delivery will tend to curl after being unboxed. Place them outside directly in the sunlight on a hot day. The heat will help them flatten out.
  • Chair mats have two sides. Whichever side is the smoothest is the top. The rougher side is the bottom and is intended to keep the mat from sliding on hardwood flooring.
EXPERT TIP

Chair mats are typically made from one form of plastic or another. Therefore, the best way to extend their useful lifespan is to put plastic casters on your chair.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

We like the MuArts Thickest Hard Floor Chair Mat made from tough and transparent PVC plastic. It's one-eighth of an inch thick and measures 47 x 35 inches. It doesn't give off any gases, so there is no odor when you take it out of the box. It is BPA-free, meaning it doesn't contain any dangerous toxins, which makes it a healthy addition to your office or home environment.

We also like the Rose Home Fashion Polycarbonate Office Chair Mat for Hardwood Floors. Polycarbonate is a naturally transparent form of plastic known as thermoplastic. That makes it crystal clear, so you can see your floor while protecting it. Plus, polycarbonate doesn't bubble or compress when it's put under pressure. This is a great chair mat.

Some chair mats are shipped flat, so there is no chance of a problem with curled edges. If curled edges are a concern for you, check with the manufacturer to see if the mat you’re considering is shipped flat or rolled up.

FAQ

Q. The chair mat I purchased keeps slipping. Are there any tricks I can use to keep it still?
A.
Turn the mat over and spread a thin layer of glue across it. Make sure the glue is spread  evenly and let it dry. Once it’s dry, turn the mat back over. The dried glue should add a bit of traction to prevent the mat from slipping.

Q. Are there any other ways to keep my chair mat from sliding?
A.
Yes. Put double-sided tape under each corner of the mat. Change the tape every couple of months, though, or it may not come up at all.

Q. What is the best way to clean my chair mat?
A.
You can mop the mat just as you would the rest of the floor, but that leaves a residue of water under the edges. That water must be wiped away with a cloth to prevent mildew and rot under the mat. Since you’re going to have to get down on your hands and knees anyway to do that, you might as well clean the mat while you’re down there. Use a soft cloth dipped in a mixture of mild soap and warm water.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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