If this is the first time you’ve purchased a chair mat for your office, you may get it out of the box and wonder, “Which side is down?”
Chair mats usually have a rigid, flat, or textured surface on top with some type of grip on the bottom side. The grip is usually spiked on carpet chair mats and sticky or grippy on hard floor chair mats.
This can be hard to spot on certain chair mats, so we will explain which side is down, how to install the chair mat, and what a chair mat lip is.
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Which Side of a Chair Mat Faces Down?
The side of the chair mat that faces down will have some type of grip. However, this may be difficult to see if the grips do not have spikes or if the top has texture.
The difference is more apparent in carpet chair mats than in hard floor chair mats. The reason is that carpet chair mats usually come with spikes on the bottom.
Hard Floor Chair Mats
Hard floor chair mats are often thinner than chair mats for carpet. There is usually a textured side and a flat, smooth side meant to provide grip.
You may have to look closely and feel the texture on hard floor chair mats to tell which side is the bottom and which side is the top.
The texture on top is usually a matte texture designed for rolling. The bottom portion of the chair mat that faces down is usually not textured but has a more smooth and sticky feel.
This bottom portion is designed to grip flat floors, so they come without spikes. Chair mat bottoms designed with points will damage flat-surfaced floors.
Carpet Floor Chair Mats
It is more obvious to determine which side is the bottom portion on carpet chair mats. They will typically have plastic or polycarbonate spikes on the bottom. The spikes are designed to grip the soft fibers in carpets and help hold them in place.
There are varying lengths of spikes available on the chair mats. The chair mat spike length you choose will depend on the carpet’s pile height or the depth of your carpet. Deeper carpets will require longer spikes, and shallow carpets will require shorter points.
How Do You Put on a Chair Mat?
Sometimes putting a chair mat down is as easy as laying it on the floor where you would put your chair. However, there are some details involved in the process.
The chair mat may arrive flat, which is preferable. If your chair mat comes flat, all you have to do is lay it flat on the floor with the grip side down.
Sometimes even flat mats have curling on the edges. Don’t worry, as most chair mats will flatten over a few days.
Sometimes the chair mat will arrive rolled up. In this case, you may need to be careful opening up the package. The chair mat is meant to be solid and durable, so this may cause it to spring open as you unpackage it.
Curled chair mats will need to be flattened. You can do this by setting heavy objects on all four corners of the chair mat. This process should flatten the chair mat within a day or two.
Watch this YouTube video on How to Unroll a Tough Office Chair Mat for a visual representation.
After unboxing and flattening the chair mat, you will need to place the mat in the proper place. This depends on if your chair mat has a lip. We will explain more about what a chair mat lip is in the section below.
If there is no lip, you will want to place the chair mat partially under the desk where your chair will roll. If the mat does not fit under your desk, you may have to lift the desk to get the mat in the proper place.
Mats designed with a lip are meant to fit underneath your desk. The lip portion of the chair mat goes under the desk, while the central piece sits outside the desk.
What is a Lip on a Chair Mat?
The chair mat lip comes in different sizes and shapes and is the part of the mat designed to go under the desk. This will allow your chair to roll effortlessly under the desk and protect the floor or carpet underneath the desk.
The chair mat lip usually extends out a third of the length of the central part of the mat. The lip is centered at about one-third of the width of the mat. There are variations in lip size, shape, and material to fit your needs.
Often the shape of the lip matches the shape of the main portion of the mat. If the main piece of the mat is circular, the lip will usually be curved.
In most instances, the lip will be made of the same material as the central part of the mat. The mat and lip are one piece making up the whole chair mat.
The side of the chair mat that faces down is the side that will best grip the floor.
Hard floor chair mats will have a grippy flat surface or sometimes small rounded spikes on the bottom of the mat.
Carpet chair mats will usually have spiked grips on the bottom of the chair mat. Carpet chair mats are much easier to differentiate between the top and bottom due to the spikes on the down-facing side.
Installing a chair mat typically involves taking it out of the box and placing it where needed. If it is curled up, you will need to flatten it first.
We hope this takes the guesswork out of installing your new chair mat!