by C.M. Mackenzie
Carpeted floors usually provide too much resistance for office chairs with rollers to work well. In addition, rolling a chair over carpet will wear down the carpet fibers over time. Mats designed for these areas are a practical solution to both issues. Mats can also protect harder, uncarpeted floors -- such as vinyl or wood, from wear caused by chair rollers. There are several styles and colors of these mats. When choosing a mat to use under your rolling office chair, it's not always best to choose the first one you see -- some are more suitable for low-pile carpets or wood floors, and some are perfect for use on heavy, thick carpeting.
Determine the area you want the mat to cover. If the chair is a desk chair, you'll need to allow enough floor area to roll the chair away from the desk when you exit the chair.
Measure the usage area. Measure the length from the desk outward (to determine how far the mat should extend) and jot this measurement down to use when you purchase the mat. Most roller chair mats are sold in a few sizes that will fit most desk areas and are large enough for regular uses. As chair sizes and shapes differ, however, you may want the largest chair mat possible if your chair is large, or if you would like the chair to roll between two separate desks or tables.
Decide which color you prefer. Roller mats come in both solid and clear colors, and there usually isn't a large price difference between solid or clear. Clear mats offer more versatility because the floor color beneath them shows through. If you get new carpet later, you won't have to worry about getting a new mat. Some people like the look of solid colored mats better, however.
Pick a style based on your flooring. You can choose a studded mat or a non-studded mat depending on what type of floor you have. Studs are little nubs on the underside of the mat, which give the mat extra lift so the chair does not sink down into the carpeting. Choose non-studded vinyl mats for use on hardwood floors and a thicker, studded mat for shag carpets or other deeper pile carpets.