Are chair mats now a bad thing? I’m sure some of you may be wondering right now, and rightly so, after such a startling question. Let me be more specific… Is using a chair mat a bad idea for the elderly? Why Should The Elderly Avoid Chair Mats?

Do you want to find out what the answers to those questions are?

Then just keep reading; let’s discover the answer together.

Before anything, a few things we need to discuss for a better understanding of the subject matter.

What is a chair mat?

What Are Chair Mats?

While I’m quite sure we’ve all heard about or seen some chair mats at least once or twice, or even daily. However, I am also positive that there are still a few of us who have no idea what chair mats are, or may not know them on the occasions we’ve come across them.

For the sake of the latter category, we need to explain what chair mats are before we go on.

In a broader sense, A chair mat is thin flat plastic, rubber, glass or wooden mat, that is designed for use either on hard floors or carpets, and is generally shaped to fit under a desk or workstation.

It is made commonly for use under a rolling task chair or office chair, and is often kept in a fixed position.

In more simple terms, A chair mat is a protective mat for either the flooring or carpet. They protect the floor from scratches which could be caused by rolling chairs and other furniture.

A chair mat could be made with several accessory features that enhance its function to its user.

The following are a few additional features of chair mats. I have also noted their importance:

  • Grippers

Useful in keeping the chair mat in place.

  • Non-slid underlays

Also useful in keeping the chair mat in place.

  • Floor mat clips

It also keeps the chair mat in place.

  • Lips

Provide an additional surface for rolling chairs to glide under a desk. See below

  • Vent holes

Useful in containing the moisture-mopping properties of a chair mat

  • Feet

Keeps the chair mat a few inches above the ground to allow for ventilation.

Functions Of A Chair Mat

Chair mat is very useful in homes, offices and work spaces for the following reasons.

1. Work as a barrier

Chair mats serve as a barrier between the flooring and office chairs and prevent damages to the flooring, and spreads the load evenly.

The chair mats also protect the floor or carpet from marks, scratches, patches, smears, indentations and spills, or even treads caused by rolling the chair along the floor.

Chair mats also help in preserving insurance. Many insurance companies void their insurance contracts if chair mats are not used on the floor surface (of officers), especially if an earlier warning was given.

Chair mats are primarily used on surfaces made of carpet, tile, hardwood, marble, concrete and linoleum floors. Carpeted surfaces could include area rugs and oriental mats, as well as traditional carpets.

YouTube video

2. Prevent damages

Chair mats made for hard surfaces have a smooth backing which will prevent scratches or other damages on the floor, and it also helps to keep the mat from sliding on the surface.

Chair mats for carpeted surfaces (also referred to as “carpet-style chair mats”) usually feature small anchoring cleats or spikes along the underside of the mats, to hold them in place on the carpeted surface. The spikes come in different sizes and are designed in a way that no damage is done to the carpet.

3. Increase comfort and movement of the use

Chair mats enhance productivity by increasing comfort. Thus, they usually sort after among office designers due to the large benefits that can be derived from their use.

They protect floors from damages such as: wear and tear, spills and help rolling casters move smoothly. They prevent moisture from damaging the surface of the floor by absorbing the moisture themselves and are very easy to clean and maintain.

4. The organized look

The chair mat also gives an added aesthetics to the interior of a building. The color, size and design pattern of a floor mat provides beauty and finishing to the floor.

Tip: Chair mats are different from chair cushions, for example, Roho cushions for wheelchairs.

What Is A Chair Mat With Lip?

Chair mats could come with or without lips.

A lip is simply defined as a prominence beyond the normal surface of the mat. It provides protection to the floor under the desk where the chair may roll if it is pushed all the way in.

The only difference between chair mats with lips and those without is the protrusion from the rectangular base in the lipped chair mat. The lipped chair mats are best suited for offices with open desks.

Some lipped chair mats could be in a workstation-style: has a rounded triangular chair rather than the usual rectangular pattern.

Types of Chair Mats

Different types of chair mats are available in the markets. They can be grouped according to thickness, material, floor type and bottom surface.

Floor type

Bottom surface

Mat thickness

Mat material

Hard floor (Wood, tile, vinyl, or linoleum)

The smooth underside (no cleats or spikes)

1/8 inch

PVC or Polycarbonate

Low pile carpet (below ¼ inch)

Cleated or spiked underside

Up to 1/8 inch

PVC or Polycarbonate

Medium pile carpet (3/8 inch)

1/8 to 3/16 inch

PVC or Polycarbonate

Standard pile carpet (less than ¾ inch)

3/16 inch above


High pile carpet (over ¾ inch)

1/4 inch




¼ inch

Tempered Glass

It could get a little tricky trying to decide on which chair mat to buy, so if you find it difficult to decide simply consult an expert for advice, that is for the ones who will benefit from chair mats.

The below video cover glass chair mats.

YouTube video

There is, however, a special class of individuals, who will rather lose than gain from the extremely useful chair mat. These are the elderly, the injured and the disabled.

Now let’s focus on the main question we are here to answer.

Why should the elderly, the injured and the disabled avoid using char mats?

Why Should The Elderly Avoid Chair Mats?

Why does something which seems like all it does is make life more comfortable, also sound like it could be hazardous to others? If you still haven’t figured it out, then I’m very certain you’ve never tripped over your own feet before.

A couple of months ago, I came across someone who dislocated his knee, and it was placed in a cast for over six weeks. After the cast was removed, it took me a while to regain full use of that leg, so he had to ‘drag’ his injured leg for a while, leaping as he walked.

Then due to the age and imbalance, several times, he almost tripped when his ‘dragged’ feet got caught in the carpet or any similar surface. It could even get caught on a tile that seems more elevated than others.

Being temporarily disabled, with an injured foot dragged around the house, makes one realize that the disabled, whether or not they have two good feet, as well as the elderly, need to walk around the house without fear of tripping.

Now imagine your aged grandma or grandpa, or even your favorite uncle who can barely manage to walk properly, tripping and falling almost every day because their feet got caught by the chair mat.

It will be disastrous, right?

The following are clear reasons why the elderly should avoid chair mat:

1. Uneven edges of chair mats

Chair mats just like the typical floor mats and runners are highly hazardous when there are curls, ridges or “puckering”, which cause the mats to be uneven on the surface of the floor.

These ridges pose slip hazards to the elderly and anyone with movement difficulty. If mats must be used on floors for any reason, they should be those that cover the floor completely and recede into the floor to avoid any trips.

If it is not possible to find one that suits your taste and also recedes into the floor. In that case, the edges should be wide, bevelled (slightly elevated) and of a color that is clearly distinctive from that of the floor’s surface.

2. The moisture-mopping characteristic of a chair mat

Apart from uneven edges causing trips, moisture beneath the chair mats could also lead to a fall.

Remember, chair mats are also placed on floors to absorb moisture, thus preserving the carpets from spoilage due to moisture.

Unless the chair mats are ventilated (i.e., they have wide small feet or teeth that keep the mat slightly up off the floor or the carpet, or small ventilation holes that allow air to circulate under the mat, reducing the places where moisture can be trapped), in very humid conditions, moisture could get trapped under the mat with no escape. This could make the chair mat slippery and can lead to falls.


Chair mats are wonderful additions to furniture items in homes (including nursing homes), offices and work spaces due to the benefits that can be derived from their use.

YouTube video

Now, although chair mats are beneficial to most people, it is highly not recommendable for homes or offices with elderly, disabled or temporarily disabled people, to avoid accidents caused by falls and better preserve life.