Are floor mats added as we age?

My late grandmother was notorious for carpeting her floor with mats. There were mats in front of her couch, at the kitchen sink, in the bathroom, at the foot of each bed, and underneath her rocking chair. She was also a big fan of the runner. She used runners for all the high traffic areas of her small house.

I’m not sure why she felt the need to protect her floor so much, but the mats and runners were definitely a tripping hazard. Luckily she never tripped over one of them. Currently, my mother-in-law has taken the floor mat torch and ran with it. She has mats all over her home and I’m not exactly sure why. Upon entry to almost every room there is a floor mat. She also feels the need to place one in front of her couch. Does the need for floor mats increase with age? Are we all doomed to clutter our floors with mats in our golden years? I’m at a loss to figure out what the need is here.

As you age please resist the urge to protect your floor from day-to-day traffic. The floor mats and runners can be used, but don’t over use them. The main entrance to the home can use a mat along with one in front of the kitchen sink, but in front of every piece of furniture? That’s where the problems start. If you currently feel the need to over use the floor mat, you may want to purge your collection. You may also want to institute a no shoes policy upon entry to your home. This will cut back on wear and tear on your floors and carpets. Also, you may want to equip your chairs with protectors to save your wood floors from scratches rather relying on the dreaded floor mat.

22 Comments for “Are floor mats added as we age?”

  1. posted by Leo Petr on

    One function of the mat is to keep your feet away from the cold, cold floor. Socks help somewhat, but a mat or carpet really cuts down the on thermal transfer.

  2. posted by Paula on

    I think this may have been a kind of Depression-era “make the carpet last forever” thing, as well as a “save heat” thing.

    In the last year of her life, when my mother was very frail, I too noticed the incredible proliferation of throw rugs in her home.

    Falls are a major hazard for seniors, and those dozens of ditsy little rugs are death traps.

  3. posted by Cliff on

    I don’t get the mats thing. I guess that’s because I live in a warm climate? Isn’t the floor, itself, protection from the GROUND below it? Plenty of log cabins and other early dwellings had “mud floors,” meaning they didn’t have floors. If you have a floor, aren’t you already protecting your feet? At Westminster Abbey, the Chapter House has such historically important floor tiles that you have to take your shoes off and wear little paper-cloth swaddles (in Canada they’d call them “baffies”) to walk around in it.

    Like galoshes (“rubbers” “shoe raincoats”). Your properly applied shoe-shine is supposed to protect the leather of your shoes, and your shoes are supposed to protect the cloth of your socks. You don’t need to protect the protectants.

    My grandmother liked to put socks in the tub. Like, old wet soggy balled up men’s black dress socks. This was supposed to make her less likely to fall over because it was “something to grip on.” I think the fear of slipping is what’s behind a lot of this. The idea that a bad fall is caused, NOT, by a loss of balance from failing coordination and slower reactions and weaker muscles (heck no! couldn’t admit that WE are the culprit!) but instead by an “overly slick contact surface.” It’s the FLOOR’s fault. Make it puffy and textile and sticy!

  4. posted by The Shopping Sherpa on

    Could it be that the carpet underneath is wearing out in high traffic areas? And recarpeting the whole room or house is either too expensive or too difficult to do with having to shift everything?

    I mention this because I’m renting and have balding patches in my carpet on both sides of my bed (one has a rug over it), in front of the sofa, in the doorway from the kitchen to the dining area and at the top of the stairs and am considering buying another rug for the couch patch…

  5. posted by Jon on

    In addition to all of the above, another thing that rugs can do is define a zone. There might be something to the deep rooted feeling that by having a rug in front of the sofa just might make it “feel” more comfortable… or make the ride of a rocking chair more enjoyable. Next time your in a clothing boutique see what they have done to define different areas in the the space… it’s pretty fascinating and successful.

  6. posted by heather on

    well most of whom people have mentioned are mothers and grandmothers.. women who specially during older times but even still are the ones to clean the house, maybe since they are now getting older it is harder for them to keep those particular patches of carpet clean like they used too. I know as the only women in a house two guys that certain places like in front of the door and couch get all sorts of stains and junk, and wear thin a lot faster then the other areas, I have to scrub those spots at least once a week to keep them looking decent. They are probably just trying to maintain a feeling of a clean home without having to relies their age every time they see those spots they can no longer easily take care of.

  7. posted by Lana on

    Well, we ripped out all of the wall to wall carpet in our home and replaced it with wood floors and tiles, so throw rugs are a must in our situation. I use them at the foot of every bed and at key areas throughout the house. Even though we remove our outside shoes and I’m a pretty fastidious cleaner, you’d be shocked at how much dirt and dust swirls around when you have hardwood floors. Throw rugs help keep the dust bunnies to a minimum and they’re easy to clean cause you can just toss them in the washer rather than having to break out a carpet cleaning machine. And, as Jon pointed out, throw rugs can add texture and balance to a room. Tastes vary.
    Extreme, minimalistic decor isn’t for everyone.

  8. posted by Mitch on

    I personally don’t like mats. Somehow, someone always ends up tripping on it. I have implemented a no-shoes policy but that just led to a pile of sneakers and slippers obstructing my doorway. I wanted to invest in a shoe rack but there just doesn’t seem to be enough room in my narrow hallway. Any ideas?

  9. posted by Aliza on

    I have to have something on my floors because I live upstairs from someone in anapartment building. And I have these beautiful wood floors….sigh………

  10. posted by Cliff on

    I like wall-to-wall tile or hardwood, and NO floor rugs. I don’t understand why the throw-rug or mat would be “a must” (so says Lana) in that situation. What’s wrong with a plain floor? Easier to clean, nicer on the feet, less dust (beaused there’s nothing for it to get trapped by, and therefore you get rid of it rather than let it hide in the edges of the mat), and visually much less cluttered. Fewer things to take with you, when you move. No more mats!

  11. posted by Lana on

    @Cliff – Rugs are a must because — unless you can “tune” and float above the ground like those dudes in Dark City:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118929/
    bare feet on bare floors = crumb magnets. No matter how well you vacuum, your feet will get crumby; so you need a place to wipe your feet before going to bed.

    In the kitchen and bathrooms, that hard tile is murder on your knees if you have to stand up for any length of time (washing pots, brushing your teeth, etc), so the rug gives you a place to stand and they also serve to catch water that might splash over the sink.

    And most importantly, every time you open a door, dust and dirt comes in; throw rugs catch a lot of that debris so it doesn’t get dragged all over the rest of the house. I tried the bare floor look and it gets tired real quick. Dragging the vacuum cleaner out more than once a day is NOT for me. I’d much rather shake a few rugs outside in the backyard and use my microfiber broom on the exposed floor areas (the entire house takes about 10 minutes instead of an hour or more with the vac). On the weekend, we give the house a good vacuuming and mopping; this way, the floors look great with minimal effort.

    If you have any low maintenance secrets for bare floors without throw rugs, I’d love to hear them.

  12. posted by Dave on

    This reminds me of the people who bras on the front of their cars to protect the paint, which then never fades, unlike the rest of your car, and leaves a ‘glaring’ bit of perfection if you ever take it off. Protecting a finish so neurotically that you never see it seems counter to its own purpose.

  13. posted by Liz on

    What is it with the mat in front of the kitchen sink thing? Simply a way to catch drips? Never had one myself.

  14. posted by Kris on

    Thank you … that’s exactly what I wanted to know .. I can see a mat at the front and back doors. I can see a throw rug defining an area.

    But what’s with the mat at the kitchen sink? Baffles me.

  15. posted by Anonymous on

    mat at he kitchen is to help absorb the watter that will at some point splash out of the sink on to the floor. Helps keep the kitchen clean.. also gives people on cold floors something warm to stand on while they do dishes.

  16. posted by R on

    wooden/tile floors are uncomfortable to walk or stand on for any period of time, unless you always wear slippers or shoes. i imagine this becomes truer as your feet get older. i’ll also second the cold issue mentioned above.

  17. posted by C on

    I guess it’s like the floor mats in your car – you want to protect what’s underneath. But then the mat covers it and you never see it!

    Why not just put mats over the entire carpet in the room (or floor of the car)?

    We just moved into a new rental with wood flooring. Yeah, it’s scuffed, but what do you expect? You can’t baby it forever….

  18. posted by Anonymous Coward on

    Floor mats in a car are useful because when they invariably become beshyted, they can be tossed out and easily replaced.

  19. posted by sajct on

    I think it’s as extra padding for feet and legs. As we get older, we lose fat in our extremities. It could be like extra insoles to cushion walking and standing. It’s a variation on the cold issue stated above.

  20. posted by Marsha on

    I’m nearing Social Security age, so I thought I’d post an explanation about mats.

    Wall-to-wall carpeting is a somewhat recent product. It only became commonplace in the 1960s. And because the carpeting was a new development, there weren’t so many carpet cleaning companies.

    This, combined with the frugal mentality of homeowners who grew up during the Depression, spawned the feeling that it was important to protect the carpet – both from dirt and from excessive wear. Hence, the floor mat.

    That said, I don’t use them. I hate the feel, sound, and look of them.

  21. posted by Jake on

    This is why people should simply take off their shoes inside their house. No dirt and less wear and tear on your carpet.

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