Door Mats 101: which materials and styles are right for you?

One of the quickest ways to perk up your front porch or patio is with an attractive door mat. Mats provide a warm, stylish welcoming element while working to keep your house cleaner.

There are a number of considerations, depending on what you’re looking for. Come on inside…

The Ideal Size

You’ll first need to pick a size. Start by measuring the width of your door, including trim and sidelights.

Indoor and outdoor mats should be 80% percent of the width of your door or more to provide proper surface coverage and attractive visual proportions. A standard front door is 3 feet wide, which means the mat should be at least 29 inches wide, and a mat in front of double doors works best when at least 57½ inches wide. If you have sidelights or wider trim, you may want to align with those for even better visual appeal.

If the door swings over the mat, make sure it freely swings without catching or snagging. Otherwise, the door could scrape, snag or damage the mat. Most doors have a ½″ to ¾″ clearance from a finished floor, but measure yours when it is open – especially if it has weather stripping or swings outside – to be sure.

Materials and Care

The most common synthetic mats are polypropylene, polyester, polyester-acrylic and polypropylene-modacrylic blends. Each withstands the elements and resists mildew, deterioration and fading, and can be used indoors or outside. They can be spot cleaned with a sponge and wiped or hosed clean along with a mild soap/detergent. Mats with a hand-tufted design should be vacuumed regularly (without a beater brush) and cleaned with a mild soap/detergent.

Coir is yarn created from the fibrous outer husk of coconut shells. The naturally absorbent material is woven into a dense pile for a rough texture that helps scrape dirt and water from shoes. Coir mats are typically thicker and heavier than synthetic or fabric mats, and are designed for outdoor use. Over time they can fade, and the natural color can stain stone, concrete and chemically treated surfaces (including slate, granite, cobblestone and limestone). We recommend that you place your coir mat in an indoor or covered outdoor area and always use a rug pad with it. Coir mats will also shed a bit at first and should be periodically brushed or shaken out to remove loose fibers and prevent dirt buildup.

Rubber mats, typically used outdoors, are great at trapping dirt and debris while providing a non-slip surface. They also resist fading and are extremely easy to rinse clean with a hose. While rubber naturally resists water and works well in most weather, it should not be kept in freezing conditions for long periods of time, as prolonged exposure to cold can cause it to crack.

Fabric mats come in a wide range of materials including sisal, jute, cotton and synthetics. These are most often lighter, indoor mats. If they are used on a smooth surface such as tile or wood, you’ll want to make sure they either have a non-skid back or are used with a rug pad. They will have varying care instructions, but often they can be machine washed and hung to dry.

Warming the Welcome

Now let’s talk best practices and other considerations.

For the best of both worlds, use an outdoor and an indoor mat at the same door. The outdoor mat will act as the initial line of defense, while the indoor mat – especially utility door mats – will perform the final cleanup. Likewise, the outdoor mat will offer the initial welcoming design, while the indoor mat can either continue that theme or tie into your indoor decor.

Mats can also be “layered” (stacked) to create a framing effect, and you can change out one or both of the mats periodically to create a new look. Two mats of different sizes but the same proportions work best with a thinner, larger mat on the bottom and a smaller, heavier or thicker mat on top. To prevent shifting and buckling, make sure both mats have a non-skid back or a pad, and try to use a heavier mat on top.

Just about any printed design will eventually show its age, and heavy traffic will wear down any material over time, causing the texture and color to change. With regular cleaning and by rotating or swapping out mats to reflect the season, you’ll enjoy each mat even longer.

Shop All Door Mats

Shop our assortment of door mats and discover which style best suits your style and needs.