6 Considerations when judging the Quality of Anti-Fatigue Mats
It is rumoured that the first Workstation Anti-Fatigue Mats were actually Flattened Cardboard Boxes used by operatives to Insulate against Cold Concrete Floors, Soak Up Spills and/or provide a more comfortable surface to stand on - and this was before the science of Anti-Fatigue Mats had ever been considered. I am sure that like me you have walked around the occasional Factory, Workshop or Garage where the use of the old "Flattened Cardboard Box" is still used.
Thankfully things have moved on and as the science behind the use of anti-fatigue surfaces has been researched and understood better then investment has been put into anti-fatigue floorings and mattings and a host of product offerings have evolved.
There are many mats that look very similar however some may only work as well or last as long as the humble cardboard box. Here are some things to look out for to help spot a good well constructed Anti-Fatigue Mat versus the also-rans:-
1. Lay Flat - A good mat will lie flat after it has been unrolled or unpacked, it may take a few minutes (dependant upon the type of mat). A mat that refuses to lie flat several hours after unpacking or even worse proceeds to curl up at the edges after a few uses is likely to be of poor manufacture or composition.
2. Recovery - Consider a good Memory Foam Mattress, it only works well because after compression it recovers to its original starting point time and time again - It is the same with a good anti-fatigue mat - one of its main attributes is provide a surface that promotes movement. If an Anti-Fatigue Mat is either made of Foam or has a foam underlay - then cheaper versions can often have poor performance over the long term where the cell structure of the foam crushes and this means that the number and quality of the cells reduce and the mat will no longer recover. Think of Bubble Wrap - one the bubbles of air have burst then it just becomes a piece of plastic!
3. Tearing- Anti-Fatigue Mats by definition will get a lot of use, it may be subjected to different sizes and shapes of people, different footwear, different movement techniques etc. The mat will probably get pulled in all sorts of directions and this is often wear cheaper mats tear as a twisting foot pulls and the mat simply does not have the tensile strength and composition to withstand. Cheaper predominately polyethylene or vinyl foam based mats will often tear after a few uses.
4. Warranty - Look for a warranty. A quality mat will probably have at least a 1 year Fair Wear & Tear Warranty.
5. Suitability - The right mat in the right place. Even a good quality Anti-Fatigue Mat will not last if it is placed in the wrong environment. For instance a Good Quality Natural Rubber based Anti-Fatigue Mat may be of excellent composition and manufacture, however will be of little use if placed in an oily environment - as a bit like water and electricity, oil & natural rubber don`t mix! This is where the quality and accuracy of the information and/or advice you get when buying an Anti-Fatigue Mat.
6. Price - I know it is a well used phrase and often a good sales "sound bite", but if something appears to be significantly cheaper that alternatives then there is probably a good reason for it.