Welcome Mats 101: Why Choosing One Isn’t as Easy as It Seems
A welcome mat helps keep your floors clean by absorbing dirt, debris, and moisture, keeping them from getting into your home. But of course, that’s only part of the appeal—a welcome mat can also add considerable flair to your home’s threshold.
Whether it’s a silly message or a last name emblazoned across it, a doormat serves as your unofficial welcome committee, so you’ll want to choose one that makes a good first impression. Or at least the right impression.
“A doormat does a real job,” says Spoon Popkin, owner of Damn Good Doormats.
A welcome mat may be small, but like so many other home purchases, it requires some thoughtful consideration so you can find the right one for your space and personality. Here’s the lowdown from the experts on what to know about choosing the right welcome mat.
The size should be proportional to where it’s placed
Doormats come in all shapes and sizes, so choose wisely.
The general rule is to select one that is the same width as your front door or 80% of the width of the doorway where it will be placed.
Popkin says 18-by-30 inches is the most common size, although some people opt for 24-by-60 if they have French doors.
They can work indoors and outdoors
Welcome mats are typically considered for the outside only, but they can also be used indoors. You might want to use a double-mat configuration if you live in inclement weather.
“Mats placed outdoors and indoors will protect the floors because they give two opportunities to get snow, ice, sand, dirt, etc. off your shoes,” says Sandy Pharr, owner and designer of Rug Rats, Fine Carpets, and Custom Rugs.
Experts advise keeping thick mats outdoors since they tend to slide or get stuck when the door is opened.
“Coir mats are best used in covered areas with very little exposure to outdoor elements due to the natural fiber construction, but a rubber mat can withstand the outdoor elements so can be used in any outdoor area, covered or uncovered,” says Carmen Barbee, rug buyer for Ballard Designs.
Try the layered look
“For some time now, layering doormats has been a big trend,” says Lauren Burcombe, owner of Josie B, which offers a variety of fun and unique hand-painted doormats.
To achieve this look, place an outdoor accent rug beneath your doormat so it peeks out 6 inches to 1 foot on all sides. So, if the standard welcome mat is 18-by-30, choose an accent rug that’s at least 24-by-36.
Doormats go wherever home is
Home, sweet home is anywhere you want it to be—and welcome mats are not just for houses.
“Call me biased, but I personally think everyone could use a doormat,” says Burcombe. “I’ve sold to people in houses, condos, apartments, RVs, trailers, and even dorm rooms.”
Choose the right welcome mat material
Doormats are made from a range of materials like wood, natural fibers like coir, rubber, synthetics, and grasses. But how long they last depends on the material used.
“My least favorite is coir,” says Pharr. “This is a fiber that comes from the husk of coconuts. The fibers often shed and travel, via people’s shoes, all over a home.”
Burcombe says doormats painted with acrylic paint “will fade incredibly fast and have even been known to stain nearby areas if exposed to any water.”
Your welcome mat’s material will also be a strong predictor for how long the mat will last.
“Typically, a coir mat, if exposed to elements, will only last a season or so. A rubber mat should last much longer,” Barbee says.