The history of floor mats might not be very thrilling, but it is a storied and impressive tale. It’s hard to imagine modern dwellings and workplaces without floor mats. They are essential and indispensable in many areas of any building, but how did they become the safety staples we know today?
Entrance mats keep dirt and grime off your business’s floor. Restroom mats prevent slipping, and contamination from reaching the rest of the building. More specialized mats serve many modern functions. They can prevent fatigue, increase traction, make your reception areas more welcoming and attractive, even.
But what did the world look like before the modern floor mat? How did our beloved floor essentials come to be? Let’s take a look back at the history of floor mats!
In most available accounts, there is nothing that distinguishes the floor mat from its other close relatives – rugs and carpets. The carpet must have even evolved from the floor mat, although that conclusion is up for debate. Records show, however, that the earliest known account of a floor covering used in dwellings dates back to the Paleolithic period. That was roughly 25,000 years ago and the “floor mat” was as primitive as you can imagine. If you’re imagining a felt-like material made of bark, you’re going in the right direction.
Discoveries of early mats demonstrate the use of woven grass to produce floor matting. Mats found in excavations of ancient Mesopotamian settlements, dating back 6,000 years, are of such construction. With the evolution of weaving among many different cultures, different types of mats and rugs were created. These include many of the traditional mats that we know up to this day – like Japan’s tatami mats. These early and traditional mats functioned more for sleeping than the foot mats that we know them to be today, but the influence is quite evident.
The closest relative to the modern floor mat and rug was the kind invented in 1800s England. These rugs were made through a process called rug hooking that utilized discarded yarn pieces. Rug hooking became so popular and influential that modern methods of making woven rugs, mats, and carpets still resemble mats made with rug hooking.
While the method of rug hooking floor coverings was effective, there was a lot of room for improvement. This was particularly true when it came to durability. Without a strong backing, they did not last very long.
All this changed with the advent of rubber. Rubber became part of everything. It not only revolutionized the automobile. It also ushered in a new era for floor coverings and gave birth to the modern rubber-backed floor mat.
Rubber allowed for floor coverings that were durable, waterproof, and added traction for better, safer footing. And from the basic rubber-backed floor mats came the many, many inventive, functional floor mats we now know and use today.
Which type of floor mat do you have at your business and which ones can you not operate without? Whatever floor mat you need, you can find it at Specialty Mat! We take mats seriously so you can reap all of the benefits.
Contact us today for more information at (800) 941-MATS.