When considering which type of floor mat would work best in your commercial kitchen, one should take into consideration just how much abuse the mat will need to withstand. The challenge is to find a kitchen mat 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. A few points to consider when choosing the best kitchen matting are:
- Are the kitchen mats under consideration rubber mats, vinyl mats or mats designed for some other application altogether (ie 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?
- How heavy is the matting?
- Do the kitchen mats possess any Grease Proof or Grease Resistant qualities?
- How thick are the kitchen mats? Will the thickness pose any tripping hazards? Are the edges of the mat beveled?
Animal fats and oils associated with frying areas and bakeries tend to cause a serious degradation to most mats unless they are a rubber. Nitrile rubber kitchen mats or rubber mats with an added grease resistance will perform much better in a kitchen environment than any matting that is made up of a vinyl. Vinyl mats are good for certain abusive environments, but should not be used in areas subject to animal fats. It goes without saying that carpet mats should not be used in areas 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 matting in a kitchen environment.
There are many types of mats on the market. Anti fatigue matting is a large sub-category of Floor Matting. Kitchen mats is a sub – category of Anti Fatigue Mats. Not all anti fatigue mats should be used in a kitchen environment. Some fatigue mats are designed for dry areas, static environments, or industrial applications, etc.
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 mat is picked up 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 achieve the cleanliness required of a kitchen mat.
Another feature that should be considered is the overall weight of the floor mat. Kitchen mats that are too heavy are difficult to handle, especially when greasy. Any impediments to cleaning the mats should be minimized to encourage cleanliness. Heavy kitchen mats that are difficult to clean will probably not be cleaned as often as kitchen mats that are lighter and possess a better design.
How thick the matting is 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 a fatigue mat should possess to enhance the anti fatigue properties of the mat (ie, resilience, rebound, etc.). Usually mats that are 3/8 "to 1/2" in thickness are perfect for a kitchen environment. Furthermore, since the mat is thinner, it will also be less expensive, lighter to handle and pose less of a tripping hazard.