Rubber Mats Article
Use rubber mats to protect your Track from unnecessary cleat damage.
Summer is approaching and Football practice is starting up for many high schools and colleges. Football practice means cleats on feet – hundreds of feet each day – crossing over the oval running track that often surrounds school football fields. Running tracks can cost a small fortune and they look great. How long they look great depends upon the measures taken to protect the surface of the track. Consider the use of rubber floor mats to protect your track.
Floor mats can be used to prevent damage to tracks that can occur from football cleats, turf care vehicles and other types of equipment that are required to roll over the track to get to the interior field area. Protection of the track is often an afterthought or not a thought at all until the damage occurs and costly repairs are required. The methods of protection employed may include putting some plywood over the track, carpet remnants or some other product not designed to protect the substrate underneath.
Plywood is heavy, tends to warp over time and is not very attractive. Coaches or Athletic Directors will need to remember to put the plywood down, remove it and find someone to carry out this constant task. Plywood that warps presents a tripping hazard which can cause injury. Finally, if your school has invested major dollars in a track, stadium, painting the field and in decorations for the big game, warped plywood tends to detract from the entire experience.
Using carpet remnants may work a few times but not for long. Carpet subjected to the elements will get heavy, waterlogged and start to degrade. Gusting winds can also wreak havoc on carpet and plywood. It is difficult to control mother nature.
The answer to this problem is to use floor mats or rubber matting that possess certain features:
Low Profile – The rubber mats need to be thin to prevent tripping and to prevent winds from taking the product for a whirl.
Portability – If the floor mats are too heavy, the weight presents another impediment toward utilization. It would be preferable if the floor mats could be rolled up for ease of use and take-up.
Durability – The rubber floor mats need to withstand cleats, lawn equipment and tractors. Rubber mats offer this durability.
Safe COF – COF Coefficient of Friction means that the floor mats should provide a safe walking surface that is not slick even when wet. Plywood can become slick as can carpet especially in wet or icy conditions.
The use of rubber floor mats can provide some protection for field tracks. Most floor mats are low profile, portable and provide an acceptable Coefficient of Friction (COF). Unfortunately, there are hundreds of floor mats from which to choose. Which type or types offer the best solution?
My suggestion would be to consider only rubber floor mats. Many floor mats have a backing that looks like rubber but is actually vinyl. Vinyl tends to degrade over time, become brittle and fall apart. Vinyl floor matting will lose its memory and will not lay flat if rolled and unrolled many times (especially when cold). If you have seen floor mats with curled edging or cut edges, chances are that these are vinyl backed mats and not rubber floor mats.
Floor mats usually have a carpet or some type of fabric on their surface. This feature is great for adding colors, but does nothing toward the functionality of the product. My recommendation would be to utilize a rubber mat with no carpet or fabric on the surface.
Rubber mats offer a great Coefficient of Friction, are simple to roll up (Portability), are very durable and if utilized in a 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch gauge, offer a very low profile. Rubber floor mats are heavy enough to stay in place but not so heavy that they cannot be moved easily. Some rubber floor mats offer a ribbed or pyramid surface for safety. This is a feature that is not necessary because rubber already offers a safe walking surface. These nooks and crannies can actually hold water and freeze posing a slip hazard in icy conditions especially the ribbed matting.
When choosing a product to protect your track, you may wish to consider a rubber mat like Track Shield or some other type of thin rolled rubber floor mat. Products like these are durable and offer a portability that allow the floor mats to be used for a variety of applications when ever protecting a floor or substrate is desired.