How to Choose the Right Floor Mat for Your Vehicle
We feel sorry for car floor mats. Not only are they trampled on mercilessly without avail, but many don't even bother to check if they're okay--let alone if they’re still in one piece.
Floor mats not only protect your vehicle against spills, dirt, and dust, but they also provide you better footing when you're driving on the road. So don't take them for granted and think they're just floor mats (which they are). In an ideal world, the automotive world will be a much colder place without them (sob).
Choosing the right floor mat doesn't require a doctorate degree in automotive engineering. All it takes is a bit of common sense, a crystal-clear idea of what your needs and priorities are, and some of these tips to help you get started:
Choose the right material when buying a car floor mat
This is the most important thing you should do.. The last thing you want is to buy a floor mat that doesn't specifically do what you intended it to do.
There are three types of materials used in most common mats today: Carpet, Vinyl, or Rubber.
Carpets are often tufted, and made from tough nylon and other materials, like Berber. They also come with an anti-slip rubber backing to make them more secure in place.
- Their designs can be customized
- They offer more options in style and design
- Price range varies, and can cater to a much wider demographic
- They can accumulate dirt over time
- They wear out faster compared to rubber or vinyl
When should you use carpet mats?
We suggest you buy carpeted mats if you fit into the following categories:
- Your car isn't often used
- Your interiors don't get easily dirty
- You want to color-coordinate your vehicle's interiors--including the mats
- You're more into aesthetics than practicality
- You like to place a personalized stamp on your accessories (like your name's initials or car's brand and model)
Rubber floor mats--as the name suggests--are usually made from heavy-duty rubber.
- They are easy to clean
- They are tough (and with the right care) are far more durable compared to carpets (and some vinyls)
- They have hundreds of deep grooves called “wells”, which gives them great weather- and water-proof features
- Their design and colors are limited and may not blend well with your vehicle's interiors
- They can get expensive, especially if you buy those that are customized for your car
- They are vulnerable to heat--you should never leave them under the sun for a long time (or they'll develop tiny cracks or fissures that will worsen in time)
- Some rubber mats can get slippery when wet
When should you buy rubber floor mats?
- Opt for rubber if you're prone to spilling and throwing things
- You take your vehicle on regular outdoor treks
- Your passengers tend to get dirty--or attract dirt (e.g. animals, kids' dirty shoes, clumsy spouse, etc)
Many people tend to confuse vinyl and rubber. Vinyl, or PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) is a polymer that's related to synthetic plastic. Vinyl costs cheaper than rubber, which is the reason why they are often used as alternatives to rubber.
- They are cheaper
- They have a broader range in design, color, and style
- Highly resistant to chemicals
- More resistant to moisture absorption
- They're less durable and tough compared to rubber
- They are more prone to cracking, curling, and warping when exposed to extreme temperature (heat and cold)
When should you choose vinyl?
- Choose vinyl if you want to go down the middle path--you get the toughness of rubber PLUS the inexpensiveness of carpet. Just remember not to expose it to extreme heat and cold often; otherwise, it wouldn’t last as long as you want it to.
Choosing the right material for your car mat is just the start. Whenever possible, choose the ones that are custom-fitted specifically for your vehicle. That way, they'll provide a much better fit and protection-level compared to the generic ones sold in stores today.