Entrance mats are a vital feature of any modern building. Not only do they increase the aesthetic appeal of an entryway, they also assist in preventing the build-up of dust and debris and reduce the likelihood of slips and falls. Further to this they reduce cleaning time and costs. These products are remarkably durable and effective when installed correctly, however the importance of the mat well is neglected all too often. Rebated entrance mats are designed to sit flush with the surface – but this is not possible when you have an uneven, poorly finished mat well. Unfortunately, this is something that I’ve witnessed regularly. In this article I attempt to highlight the importance of an accurate set down and offer some techniques that can help builders achieve a perfect result every time.
Why Is an Accurate Mat Well so Important?
The accuracy of the mat well is crucial to the longevity and proper functionality of the product that is to be laid within it. A flat, rigid object such as an aluminium entrance matting requires an even surface if it is to function as intended. Uneven surfaces cause issues such as creaking and rocking under foot traffic, which can be quite disconcerting for the user. It can also result in the matting becoming uneven, presenting a trip hazard and/or result in “trolley damage” to the mat. Neither of these issues are acceptable, so it’s important that due care is taken during the construction of the mat well.
A Common Issue
As a member of the customer interface team at Classic Architectural Group, a leading supplier of entrance matting, I have witnessed firsthand the struggles that clients go through when installing entrance matting. What should be a simple process ends up becoming a drawn out, irritable affair. All too often we find the customer placing the blame on the product itself, when in fact the issue is caused by the sloppy, inaccurate set down created by the contractor.
If you were to walk around Australia’s CBD areas, you would find a staggering amount of entrance mats that have been poorly installed. They creak and shift underfoot, and the problem usually becomes worse over time. Again, this has little to do with the quality or brand of the product, but rather the set down into which it was placed.
At Classic, the whole team, including the product development, install and customer interface teams, always strive for perfection in everything we do. We stand by our products and their ability to enhance public spaces, but we believe that greater care and attention needs to be paid to the accuracy and finish of entrance mat set downs by the teams that are responsible for it.
Creating the Perfect Set Down
Every product is unique, but in the case of aluminium entrance mats such as Vantt 5500, there are a few key requirements. This is the original market-proven entrance mat, and it is one of the most popular products in our range. Installations of Vantt 5500 Modular package require 12mm below floor coverings, and in many cases, this can be achieved without casting a set down at all.
Depending upon the surrounding floor finish, it may be possible to engage the services of a flooring contractor who can feather up the substrate, thus raising the level slightly. This would create sufficient set down once the floor covering is laid, resulting in a simplified, neat and tidy installation.
You always need to consider the other materials used during installation, such as adhesive. Naturally, this will impact the level of the product that is to be placed on top. For example, you might use 10mm tiles, but after the glue has been applied the set down will be around 12mm. In the case of carpet tiles, they may require 2-3mm of feathering up to the recess to create the required 12mm set down.
If there is no floor covering at all, then you can cast the mat set down into the concrete. At the time of pouring, the set down should be created several millimetres deeper than required. This will allow any errors to be corrected by a skilled tradesman who can screed up to the level required, ensuring that the required depth is reached. Before the concrete sets, it is important to check that the frame sides are straight and that the corners are at the correct angles.
No matter which method is used, the simple fact remains – accuracy and a good finish is crucial to the quality installation of an aluminium entrance mat. It is not difficult to achieve a perfect result, it just takes a little bit of time, effort and due care.
Perhaps a potential root cause worth noting is the lack of an allocation of cost towards creating good quality mat set downs when tendering. I would anticipate that most project managers do not allocate a sufficient budget to this. If there is no cost allocated to the job, then it makes sense that the ownership of the task becomes muddied and the subsequent quality of the mat well suffers.
The Way Forward
A wide range of individuals will encounter entrance mats daily, making it imperative that they are installed correctly. No one should have to deal with uneven surfaces that shift and creak under foot, especially when these issues are so easily preventable. Closer attention needs to be paid to set down requirements and the quality of the finish. By adopting a few simple techniques, it is possible to achieve a perfect set down every time. An accurate set down will ensure the product sits flush, allowing it to function as intended and extending the service life of the product.
I hope that this article will bring attention to this important issue, helping to instigate a positive change and encourage the inclusion of cost for creating good quality mat set downs at the tendering stage. Entrance mats are a highly effective product when installed properly. I hope that by writing this article I help the industry produce better results and continue to improve public access spaces well into the future.