How to finish a mat recess in a wood floor

One of the first things seen as visitors walk into your home is the mat. A pretty simple contraption with a basic role, to clean the bottom of their shoes. This isn’t the most glamorous of topics, but as flooring installers, we know that it’s focal points like this that really make or break a wood floor. You wouldn’t think it’s something you need to put to much thought into. Well, you’re wrong… A well set out and seated mat recessed into a wood floor, often carries as much clout as a stunning fireplace. It’s amongst the first and last things people see as they cross the threshold of your home, so it’s here that impressions are made. Of course the mat needs to perform and do its duty, but the way it looks is what we’re focusing on here…

Engineered wood floor in hallwayThere’s essentially three ways of setting a mat :-

  • Sat on top of a wood floor, with a none slip backing that always seems to slip!
  • Recessed into a wood floor framed by a purposefully or bespoke designed trim/moulding.
  • And finally, our preference, recessed into the wood floor with no moulding or trim. You could say, a kind of hybrid between the first two options. In other words, a mat with no frame and does not move.

Intergrated mat fitted neatly and slightly raisedOver the years, we’ve developed a method that encapsulates a mat without the fuss of frames that invariably become scuffed, knackered, and tatty. I’m not saying we’re the first to use this method by the way. It’s been done for years by quality wood floor installers. However, us installers are a pretty creative breed, hence, why we tend to develop similar concepts; our own way.

Our method typically involves the use of coir matting cut from the roll with no finished edges. Basically, fluffy around the edges. We then cut the matting to the desired size, position it in the desired place, and install the wood floor around it. As the floor is getting installed, each edge where the wood meets the mat is undercut. This is to allow the coir matting to sit just under (this being key) the finished edge. Undercutting serves two purposes :-

  • installing-mat-recessThe first is to semi trap the coir in place so it doesn’t move around. The coir can still be lifted for cleaning or replacement by simply and gently pinching in the middle with tongues or pliers and lifting upwards. Once cleaned, the coir can then be sat back in position and tucked in around the edges beneath the undercut wood with relative ease. If the coir is to be replaced, the old mat can be used as a template to gain the correct size.
  • The second is to force a nice tight crisp edge (As can been seen clearer in the pictures). We want the edge where the mat meets the wood to retain its crisp look even during times when the wood changes dimensions through the seasons.

finished-mat-recess-2We also need to consider that over time the coir mat is going to compress with use. Therefore, whenever we install these type of mats using this technique, we’d make sure the top or face of the mat sits about 5 mm above the surface of the wood. Sometimes this just works perfectly depending on the thickness of wood being used, or we can manipulate the height by installing ply (At whatever thickness works best) beneath the coir mat.

finished-mat-recess-3One final question that you may wish answered is ‘how do these mat recesses fair over time?’. Well, that was my big question when I first developed this technique. I started installing the mats this way with a proviso that should the method not work, I’d call back free of charge and frame the recess off retrospectively. I’ve been doing this now for over ten years, and I’ve not been called back once! I’ve also been back to some clients homes years down the line to carry out additional work and proudly seen my mat recesses looking, for want of a better word, fabulous!!

As a final thought, I have to add, the absolute best aspects of this type of mat installation that I love to pieces are it’s simplicity, it’s lack of fuss, and it’s understated appearance! It just looks so clean and sharp. It’s one of them things that people find pleasing to the eye, but have no idea why 😉

© Copyright 2016 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor

I am a Pergo trained professional installer of 20 years. I've been up close and personal with lots of floors and have the knobbly knees to show for it...Should you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below. Thanks for taking the time to call by and I hope the information you've found has given you some insight!........................................................................................................................................................................“When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in the site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network,,,,,,, affiliate window network.” This statement is to comply with current internet regulations regarding transparency to consumers.

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