A mat is a generic term for a piece of fabric or flat material, generally placed on a floor or other flat surface, and serving a range of purposes including:
- providing a regular or flat surface, such as a mouse mat.
- 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 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 tree) 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
is a general term embracing many coarse woven
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. Another type of mat is made exclusively from the above-mentioned 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 admirable examples of elegant design, and the colours in which they are woven are rich, harmonious and effective in the highest degree. 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