There are a variety of different kitchen mats and matting available on the market today. With regard to commercial kitchen mats, applications may be for Fryer areas, in front of Grilles, Food Preparation Tables, low profile walk ways, Dish Wash Stations, Outside of Freezers and Refrigerators, Drink Stations, Bar Areas, Exit doors to the exterior, Buffet lines and transitional areas where kitchen personnel may be in the kitchen and passing through to a dining area. Cafeteria settings, Hotels, Schools, Restaurants and Healthcare facilities may have specific areas where certain kitchen mats may perform better than others. With regard to Residential Use or for Breakrooms of businesses, the need for kitchen mats may coupled with the need for aesthetic appeal as well. Many of the kitchen mats used in commercial kitchen environments are not very attractive and would not pass muster by the Home Chef.
When considering which type of kitchen matting would work best in your commercial kitchen, one should take into consideration just how much abuse the kitchen mats will need to withstand. The challenge is to find kitchen mats that will serve the needs of those in the workplace and enhance their working environment. Issues like comfort, ease of maintenance, safety, drainage and tolerance for animal fats and chemicals need to be addressed.
Food Preparation and cooking environments, where food is handled are often areas where there are inordinate amounts of animal fats, greases, water and cleaning chemicals. Keeping these areas clean is, or at least should be, a top priority along with the prevention of slips and falls and employee comfort.
Animal fats and oils associated with frying areas and bakeries tend to cause a serious degradation to most kitchen floor mats unless they are a rubber. Nitrile rubber kitchen mats or rubber mats with an added grease resistance will perform much better in a commercial kitchen environment than any kitchen matting that is made up of a vinyl. Vinyl mats are good for certain abusive environments, but should not be used in areas subjected to animal fats. It goes without saying that carpet mats should not be utilized as kitchen mats where food is being prepared as the fibers provide a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Many municipalities levy fines on restaurants that use carpet mats as kitchen mats.
There are many types of kitchen mats on the market. Anti fatigue matting is a large sub – category of Floor Matting. Kitchen mats are a sub – category of Anti-Fatigue Mats. Not all anti fatigue matting should be used in a kitchen environment.
Many types of kitchen mats should have holes to allow liquids and food particles to fall below the walking surface of the floor mat. The holes or perforations should be smooth and not possess any “lips” at the base of the hole that can catch debris. This single feature will make it much easier to clean your kitchen mats as the debris and food particles will fall all the way through the mat and remain on the floor when the kitchen mats are removed for cleaning. Any nooks or crannies present in the design of the mat, will become filled with debris and it will be necessary to clean each individual perforation manually to properly clean your kitchen mats.
Another feature that should be considered is the overall weight of the kitchen mats. Rubber kitchen mats that are too heavy are difficult to handle, especially when greasy. Any impediments to cleaning the kitchen mats should be minimized to encourage cleanliness. Heavy rubber kitchen mats that are difficult to clean will probably not be cleaned as often as kitchen mats that are lighter , roll up to clean and possess a better design.
How thick the kitchen mats are will often have an effect on the overall weight of the mat. Thicker kitchen mats may also pose a tripping hazard and generally cost more. A common misconception is that the “thicker the mat the better it will be at providing anti fatigue relief”. Such is not the case. There are many qualities that fatigue matting should possess to enhance the anti fatigue properties of the mat (i.e., resilience, rebound, etc.). Generally kitchen mats that are a 1/2″ in thickness are perfect for a kitchen environment. Furthermore, since the kitchen mats are thinner, they will also be less expensive, lighter to handle and pose less of a tripping hazard.
When Choosing the Best Kitchen Mats, it may be helpful to get the answers to a few questions.
Will there be animal fats used around your kitchen mats? (i.e., Fryer areas, etc.)
Is comfort or anti-fatigue of importance? (Standing Workstation or walkway)
Will there be any liquids or chemicals be used in the area of your kitchen mats?
Will these liquids be oil based or only water based?
Do the edges of the kitchen mats need to be beveled to prevent tripping?
What are the overall sizes and dimensions required of your kitchen mats?
Are your kitchen mats going to be used in a commercial kitchen or in a setting where appearances are important?
Will there be any transport carts with wheels be required to traverse over the kitchen mats?
What methods need to be employed to care for the kitchen mats?
Is Door Clearance a concern? (i.e., kitchen mats in front of Freezer doors)
Will the kitchen mats need to be moved or rolled up for cleaning?
Do you want your kitchen mats to have holes for food particles and liquids to fall beneath shoe level or do you want your kitchen mats to have no holes so debris and liquids stay off of the kitchen floor?
Is Weight of concern for your kitchen mats? (Heavy kitchen mats are more difficult to transport for cleaning, etc.)
What is the appropriate thickness for your kitchen mats? (Thicker may be heavier, pose tripping hazards – Too Thin may not offer sufficient anti-fatigue qualities)
What do you want your kitchen mats to do? (Anti-Fatigue, Provide Safe Walk Surface, trap greases and oils, allow carts to easily roll, have a low profile to minimize trip hazards, be easy to clean, keep liquids and debris OFF of the floor, some combination of the aformentioned requirements, etc.)
Are the kitchen floor mats under consideration rubber mats, vinyl mats or mats designed for some other application altogether (i.e. carpet mats, industrial mats, dry anti-fatigue mats, etc.)?
Do the kitchen mats have holes for drainage? If so, are the inner walls of the holes smooth? Are there any “lips” at the base of the perforations?
As you may have surmised, choosing the best kitchen mats for an area where a cook is required to work in front of a fryer, may be different than the best kitchen mats for an area between a freezer full of desserts and the dining room buffet line where it is anticipated that wheeled carts and waiters may need to traverse. The need for good kitchen mats in a dishwash area may be very different than the needs for the home chef or for a corporate break room setting.
Choosing the Wrong Kitchen Mats can be Costly – so Choose Wisely.
The initial costs of kitchen mats are often a result of the various features that a particular mat may possess. The reason it is so important to ask the questions first is so that an educated decision can be made as to which features are most important to you to accomplish your specific objectives. If this phase of choosing the best kitchen mats is ignored, it can be costly. Choosing the best kitchen mats is not difficult provided the right questions are asked. Choosing the WRONG kitchen mats can be costly.
Consider that a slip and fall incident due to the WRONG kitchen mats can result in insurance claims (Avg. Slip and Fall results in over $10,000 expense per incident), loss of employee through injury, lower productivity, loss of cleanliness, loss of visual appeal. Using the WRONG kitchen mats is much more costly than choosing the RIGHT kitchen Mats.