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*Short Guide to Choosing Matting for Your Home
Cheap and practical, matting is woven either from a variety of natural fibers or from colored plastic strands. It makes a simple cheerful alternative to more expensive surfaces. Some types can be laid wall to wall, most can be used like rugs to cover existing floors.

Natural matting is woven in different patterns, including rib, checkerboard and bulls-eye. This choice of patterns, together with the warm, earth shades of light biscuit brown, honey gold and dark brown, make matting a sympathetic foil for all kinds of flooring. But the particular attraction of matting lies in its texture.

Because it is comparatively cheap, matting is a good solution for floors in temporary accommodation. In warm climates, scatter mats can be laid over hard floors in bedrooms and living rooms to increase comfort. Wall-to-wall matting makes a good base for rugs, and all types of matting are excellent choices for areas which connect directly with the outdoors - not just for doormats but as the principal flooring in halls and conservatories.


Coir - One of the cheapest, most widely available and most popular types of matting, coir is made from coconut fibre. As well as making thick, dense doormats, coir is available in various ribbed weaves, narrow and broadloom, which can be laid like carpet and provide a good all-purpose surface that suits modern as well as traditional interiors.

In addition to the natural honey color, coir matting comes in a range of other shades, including black. This range, while limited, extends coir's decorative applications. There are also types which include colored sisal in attractive patterns, but these are more expensive.

The disadvantages of coir are that it can be uncomfortable underfoot and dusty, and it will eventually become slippery on stairs - although there are more expensive types that are backed with latex or vinyl to increase durability.

If you are using coir for a doormat, it is a good idea, if circumstances permit, to stop the hall flooring short of the entrance and to create a well that can be filled entirely with the matting.

If you are using coir for a scatter mat, cut it slightly oversize and allow it to adjust to the conditions for at least 24 hours.

For wall-to-wall laying, choose a broadloom type, stitch lengths together and bind the edges with jute tape. Alternatively, butt the edges together and join them with double-sided tape or carpet adhesive. Do not tack the edges down - this will cause bumps and ridges.

Sisal - As durable as coir, sisal is made from the leaves of various types of agave plant. Available in a range of interesting colors, it is sometimes woven into mixtures with coir. The applications and method of laying are similar to coir.

Rush, Seagrass and Maize - Matting made of these various fibers has an ethnic, natural charm and comes in a wide range of fineness of weave and depth of color, maize matting being the smoothest and palest. These types of matting are readily available and cheap and, unlike rugs, need no underlay. Small sections or strips can be sewn together with twine to make a larger covering. None of these fibers will resist heavy wear and they can be dusty.

Binding Coir Matting - Bind the edges of coir with hessian (burlap) strips 5cc/2in wide. Sew the hessian to the right side of the matting using strong thread and a running stitch. Fold the hessian over the back and slip-stitch to the matting. Miter the corners.

Plastic - Woven plastic matting comes in rectangular pieces or in rolls, and a wide range of bright paint-box colors is available. There is also a type of plastic matting made of honeycomb duckboard. This is more substantial but also more expensive. Plastic matting is cheap, durable and comfortable, but it can be damaged by strong chemicals.

(*Excerpt from "Guide to Decorating" by Mary Gilliatt) Copyright 2004

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