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    Joyce Quimby
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Think Before You Rent: Considerations for Rental Mat Programs

Many owners using rental mat programs think it is more convenient to have the rental service clean their mats. Typically, the service cleans the mat weekly or biweekly depending upon the agreement. Washing mats weekly or biweekly is often not enough to properly maintain them. In reality, the maintenance staff usually cleans these mats daily between deliveries. The bottom line is that one day a week the rental service cleans the mat, while the mats are cleaned internally the remainder of the week. An effective entrance flooring system designed with a permanent bi- level cleaning surface calls for the facility to continue to clean them internally but eliminates the additional costs of a rental services.

Product Engineering

Rental mat programs generally offer the same type of mat for all applications. These mats are constructed of a non- reinforced nylon carpet on a rubber backing. While this construction holds up well in the industrial laundry process, it does not provide the best soil management system to effectively remove dirt and moisture at entrances. The non- reinforced nylon surface crushes soon after the mat is placed at the entrance, allowing dirt and moisture to sit on top. Dirt and moisture will then reattach to pedestrian traffic and track into the facility. A more effective application would include a range of mats designed for the specific application, including mat surfaces that effectively scrape, trap dirt and dry feet. When the owner purchases their own entrance flooring, they can choose the best materials for their building’s specific conditions and traffic flow.

Liability Concerns

Rental mat customers have little control over the age and quality of the mats being delivered. Rental mats can vary from brand new to 5+ years in age. Because of this variation, it is not unusual for the rental mat service to deliver mats that may contain torn edges and rippling. Not only is this unsightly, but it could be creating a possible trip hazard or difficult wheelchair navigation. Age differences in multiple mats at the same location may also show color variations from fading. When you own your mats, you decide when the product needs replaced. You control the quality of the mats in use, guarding against safety concerns and protecting yourself from possible liability.

Sizes & Style Variety

Rental mat programs usually offer few size options, as it is more efficient to limit the number of stock keeping units (SKUs) the company washes and delivers to their customers. The limited sizes are designed for easy handling and delivery, not necessarily optimum soil and moisture management. Studies completed in various market sectors call for between 10-20’ of walking surface to effectively remove the dirt carried in on the soles of shoes (see references below). Most rental mats do not exceed 10’ in length and many are only 5’ long. Ownership of the entrance flooring means the size is custom to each individual building’s needs, and the walking surface length can be specified to effectively stop dirt at the door.

Product Quality

When using a rental mat program, the previous placements of the mats are unknown. In any given week, they could have been placed anywhere from an office building to a meat packing plant. Complaints about mold, mildew and odors have been made about laundry services that may not thoroughly clean and/or completely dry their mats before placing.

Often rental agreements are based upon a weekly or bi-weekly service. No special attention is given in inclement weather. The mats could be soaked or excessively soiled and the maintenance staff would be responsible for the labor required to bring them back to effectiveness until the rental company’s next change out.

By the Numbers

“Although numbers vary by region and rental mat company, we understand rental mat programs typically cost approximately 25 cents per square foot each week,” says Lori Neitz, CS Entrance Flooring General Manager. At this rate, the cost of just one 10’ x 5’ rental is approximately $10.00 per week or $520.00 per year. A surface-mounted Pedimat® of the same size runs about $1,025.00. Based on these numbers, we can conclude that the return on investment of purchasing a permanent entrance flooring system versus mat rentals is less than two years.

References: (#4 above)

LEED 2009 IEQ Credit #5 (Indoor Environmental Quality) - - “Employ permanent entryways at least 10’ long in the primary direction of travel to capture dirt and particulate entering the building at all high-volume exterior entryways.” Under implementation explanation, they go on to say “Equip all exterior to interior entrances with entryway systems (e.g., grilles, grates, or mats) to catch and hold dirt particles and prevent contamination of the building interior. Entryway systems must extend 10’ from the building entrance into the building interior. Open grates and grilles or other entryway systems that have a recessed collection area are generally thought to be most effective.”

Professional Retail Store Maintenance (leading periodical for this market) - - “Up to 24 lbs. of dirt can be tracked in by just 1000 people coming through an entrance over a 20-day work period. Solution: Soil must be stopped with property entrance mats and matting. These systems should remove, trap, hold, and hide the dirt and moisture to prevent further tracking into the building.”

Health Facilities Management (Health care facilities management industry periodical) - -” Best way to cut down on maintenance is to keep dust and dirt out. Entrance mats outside the door and for several feet inside the entrance will catch the majority of the tracked-in dirt. Size of mat is critical for catching dirt - several footsteps are needed to clean shoe soles - - six steps or 15-18’ is a good measurement”

Environmental Building News (Leading newsletter on environmentally responsible design and construction) - - “Keeping Pollutants Out - Entryway Design for Green Buildings”….”Eliminate, Isolate, ventilate” - “Management of buildings should be considered during design” “Scrape, Trap, Dry - 18’ - 20’ of walking surface on entrance flooring”

Maintenance Supplies (Periodical for janitorial, facilities maintenance market) - - ”Industry today is cleaning 5,000-7,000 sq. ft per hour in large commercial office buildings. Efficiency cannot improve until architects and engineers design buildings with cleaning in mind - effectively trap dirt at the door!”

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