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- providing a regular or flat surface, such as a mousepad.
- protecting that which is beneath the mat, such as a place mat or the matting used in archival framing and preservation of documents and paintings.
- protecting that which is above the mat, such as a wrestling or gymnastics mat, or an anti-vibration mat.
- changing the state of that which passes above it, such as a doormat attracting dirt from shoes.
In domestic settings:
- A doormat, more frequently spelled door-mat, is a flat, usually rectangular object placed immediately outside or inside the entrance to a house or other building, to allow people to easily scrub or wipe the soles of their shoes before entering. Doormats are usually made from tough, long-lasting material such as coir, palmyra (palm) fibres and stalks, nylon, rubber, cloth, or aluminium and other metals. Doormats may also be known as welcome mats, as their location at an entrance constitutes a "welcome" to visitors, and may therefore also bear some word, message or sign of greeting. This in turn has given rise to a subculture of cartoons featuring characters returning home to find (to the reader) a humorous message on the doormat. The lowly purpose for which doormats exist has also led to informal use of the term as a reference to people who behave timidly or passively when exploited by others (see also Caspar Milquetoast).
- A "cabinet mat" is a mat made of rubber, that protects kitchen cabinets, more particularly kitchen sink base cabinets, from leaks,water damage, mold and household item spills that commonly occur in the kitchen skink cabinet.
- A bath mat is a device used on the floor of a bathroom to provide a warm non-slip surface, and to absorb small amounts of water, much like a towel. Bath mats are regularly exposed to dirt, soap and grime in the bathroom, making it an ideal environment for mould and bacteria.
- Place mats or serving mats are flat piece of fabric or other material used on a table at the points at which dishes and plates will be located during a meal. One common purpose of such mats is to provide a thermal and physical barrier between that which is placed on the table, and the table itself—for instance, to stop hot objects from marring the table's finish.
- Car mats are designed to help provide protection for a vehicle. One major use of a car mat is to keep the car looking clean. Some require fixation points to ensure they remain fixed in position. Carpet mats and rubber mats differ in a number of ways. Carpet mats are generally tufted and have a rubberised anti slip backing. On the other hand, rubber car mats are heavy duty and higher durability. While some car mats are the plain colour of rubber, many contain branded company logos, cartoon characters or even advertisements. Some are in textile form of carpet material. They can also come in a wide range of colours. The terms universal and custom fit mats differentiate between floor mats that will fit a multitude of different cars and those that are specifically designed to fit only one chassis. They are designed to keep the car clean.
- Anti-fatigue mats are designed to cut down on fatigue of a person, working in a standing position. Using anti-fatigue mats is aimed to minimize back pain, foot pain, weariness, stress, etc., when the work requires to stand for a long time on hard floor surface. Anti-fatigue mat is one of the approaches to prevent injuries, caused by working in a standing position. This type of mats is recommended by Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The range of common materials for manufacturing anti-fatigue mats includes vinyl, wood, pvc tubing, rubber, pvc closed cell foam, polypropylene, nitrile rubber. Nowadays, anti-fatigue mats application is not limited to factories and plants only. This type of mats is commonly used during trade shows for floor covering, in hospitals and clinics during surgeries to cover the floor near surgical tables to minimize surgeons fatigue resulted from continuous standing. Also these mats are used in housekeeping, especially for kitchen floors to alleviate fatigue during cooking.
- Clean room mats are produced with the purpose to keep sterile the areas that require ultimate protection from dirt, bacteria and any contamination brought from outside. Clean room mats are tacky, sticky, non slip mats that possess multiple layers of clean film that effectively capture dirt and dust from foot traffic and wheels. Each layer peels off to reveal a new clean surface. The adhesive backing, prevents microbial growth and contamination. Mats used outside clean rooms and laboratories are designed to withhold foreign pollution elements. This goal is achieved by a sticky surface that serves as a barrier for debris, dirt and dust adhered to shoe soles. Clean room sticky mats can contain two defensive barriers: the first part is a carpet itself, while the second part is sticky surface mat. Another mat type to be used to protect rooms from pollution is sanitizing foot bath floor mats. The mat itself is a small bath that contains sanitizing liquid. The foot bath bottom is covered with pliable rubber scrapers for effective cleaning of footwear soles while the liquid disinfects them.
The mats differ by composition:
- one-piece mats are usually used on the permanent basis. One-piece mats can be handcrafted or factory-made. The standard shapes of one-piece mat are rectangular, square, round and elliptic. One-piece mats are produced in the huge variety of sizes and colors. Real and synthetic materials are used for one-piece mats production.
- modular mats, also well known as interlocking tiles or interlocking floor mats, are manufactured using the “jigsaw puzzle” structure. Unlike one-piece mat, modular mat consists of numerous elements that are easily and seamlessly assembled. Compared to other types of mats, interlocking mat has several sizes, depending on the amount of pieces in one kit. Modular mat is a good solution for non-rectangular areas where standard shape mat is helpless. Interlocking mat is commonly used on a one-time or temporary basis: fitness centres and sport competitions, trade shows and conferences. A Modular mat requires less place for storage and can be easily transported.
Other uses of the term mats include:
- a mouse mat is a small flat mat used to provide a flat surface on which a computer mouse can be operated. (A mouse employing a ball which is driven by friction and which drives a x and y movement sensors requires a regular flat surface with high enough friction to drive the ball. Older optical mice—typically those from Sun Microsystems—required a mouse mat with a differentially reflecting grid.)
- an anti-vibration mat is a mat which performs the function of isolating vibration between that which is above the mat and that which is below. Such a mat might typically be used when mounting a heavy machine which vibrates, onto a concrete floor; in the absence of the anti-vibration mat, the machine tend to erode the floor through abrasion. Contrawise, some machines, such as the lithography machines used in chip fabs, need to be isolated from vibrations in their locale, and so are mounted on anti-vibration mats.
- a slipmat is a circular piece of slippery cloth or synthetic material designed to allow disc jockeys to turn or stop vinyl records on record players, or to scratch.
- Chat-Mat is a recordable talking doormat that speaks messages when stepped on. Chat-Mat was invented in 1995 by Ralph Baer, the inventor of the first commercial video game system.
- a bar mat (not beermat) is a rectangular piece of rubber or towelling material that is used to protect the counter top and/or soak up spilt drinks in a bar or pub.
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Matting or floor covering or rugs is a general term embracing many coarse woven or plaited fibrous materials used for covering floors or furniture, for hanging as screens, for wrapping up heavy merchandise and for other miscellaneous purposes. In the United Kingdom, under the name of "coir" matting, a large amount of a coarse kind of carpet is made from coconut fibre; and the same material, as well as strips of cane, manila hemp, various grasses and rushes, is largely employed in various forms for making doormats. Large quantities of the coconut fibre are woven in heavy looms, then cut up into various sizes, and finally bound round the edges by a kind of rope made from the same material. The mats may be of one colour only, or they may be made of different colours and in different designs. Sometimes the names of institutions are introduced into the mats. Due to the Silky nature and tensile strength, Jute mats or mattings have started being used as floor covering or doormats, runners and in different forms. Jute floor coverings consist of woven and tufted and piled carpets. Jute Mats and mattings starting from 1 mtr width to 6 m width and of continuous length are easily being woven in Southern parts of India, in solid and fancy shades, and in different weaves like, Boucle, Panama, Herringbone, etc. Jute Mats & Rugs are made both through Powerloom & Handloom, in large volume from Kerala, India. Indian Jute Mattings / Rugs are being widely used in USA and European countries, due to its soft nature. Jute can be easily bleached, colored or printed, similar to textile fibres, with eco-friendly dyes & chemicals. Hand-knotted Jute carpets & mattings are also being made from Kerala, India.
Another type of mat is made exclusively from the above-mentioned coir rope by arranging alternate layers in sinuous and straight paths, and then stitching the parts together. It is also largely used for the outer covering of ships' fenders. Perforated and otherwise prepared rubber, as well as wire-woven material, are also largely utilized for door and floor mats. Matting of various kinds is very extensively employed throughout India for floor coverings, the bottoms of bedsteads, fans and fly-flaps, etc.; and a considerable export trade in such manufactures is carried on. The materials used are numerous; but the principal substances are straw, the bulrushes Typha elephantina and Typha angustifolia, leaves of the date palm (Phoenix sylvestris), of the dwarf palm (Chamaerops Ritchiana), of the Palmyra palm (Borassus flabelliformis), of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) and of the screw pine (Pandanus odoratissimus), the munja or munj grass (Saccharum Munja) and allied grasses, and the mat grasses Cyperus textilis and Cyperus Pangorei, from the last of which the well-known Palghat mats of the Madras Presidency are made. Many of these Indian grass-mats are examples of elegant design, and the colours in which they are woven are rich, harmonious and effective . Several useful household articles are made from the different kinds of grasses. The grasses are dyed in all shades and plaited to form attractive designs suitable for the purposes to which they are to be applied. This class of work obtains in India, Japan and other Eastern countries. Vast quantities of coarse matting used for packing furniture, heavy and coarse goods, flax and other plants, etc., are made in Russia from the bast or inner bark of the lime tree. This industry centres in the great forest governments of Viatka, Nizhniy-Novgorod, Kostroma, Kazan, Perm and Simbirsk.
Promoting safety and health 
Quality floor mats improve indoor air quality (IAQ) and safety in commercial and residential applications. Studies have shown that most toxic chemicals that end up inside a home are tracked in on people's shoes. A well-used door mat can trap and hold dirt and allergens, preventing their spread into the rest of the building, significantly improving IAQ and reducing the need for extensive cleaning.
Floor mats also provide safe surfaces on which to walk, preventing slips and falls that cause injury and liability damages. Anti-slip mats are now required in many areas to ensure maximum protection for both employees and customers. Specialized anti-slip mats are now available that provide extra resistance to the chemicals and grease that are sometimes found in industrial and food service settings.
Custom made anti-fatigue mats are also used in work areas where employees are required to stand for long periods of time. Employers have found that much muscle strain and injury endured by workers is caused by improper flooring conditions. Non-supportive surfaces cause fatigue and foot, back and neck pain due to impaired circulation. Anti-fatigue mats were shown to improve worker productivity in this[unreliable source?].
See also 
- Woven mat
- Egbere, a mat-carrying creature in Yoruba mythology.
- Marsden Matting
- Mat (picture framing)
- Basket weave knot, a type of knot that can be enlarged to form mats
- Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Ed. (1989)
- "Case Study: Improving IAQ and Facility Cleanliness". Eagle Mat and Floor Products. Retrieved 3 February 2012.