Why Do Chair Mats Have Lips?

Chair mats help you to protect your floors from the caster wheels of your chair. Even if you don’t have a chair with caster wheels, your floor may get damaged due to the sliding of the chair legs.

A chair mat will help you to avoid those ugly scratches and help you to maintain your floor.

Why Do Chair Mats Have Lips?

Chair mats have lips so that the floor under the table remains protected from the caster wheels of the office chair.

Under the floor of the table often remains neglected and thus remains uncovered. When you roll your chair under the table, the wheels start scratching on the floor.

It may leave spots, marks, and scratches on the floor under the table. Initially, that may not be as visible. However, gradually when the dust starts to accumulate and harden on the scratches, it creates ugly dark scars on the floor.

Also, cleaning those scars is next to impossible. If you try to clean the scratches with some cleaning agent, this will only be a temporary solution.

If the scratches are permanent then the dust and dirt will again accumulate and you have to repeat the cleaning process until you change the flooring material which involves a huge cost.

In other words, if your chair mat doesn’t have lips, you will have to live with floor scratches and ugly marks almost forever.

Now that you know why your chair mats have lips, let’s check the types of chair mats that have lips…

Oh! before that, for the people who don’t know…

What is a lip on a chair mat?

Chair mat lips are an extended part of the chair mat that goes under the table to protect the floor underneath it.

However, that reduces the actual size of the mat which gets this extended part and the entire thing is accommodated within the same dimensions.

Also, the chair mat lips can be attached to the different shapes and sizes of the mats and this itself can be of different shapes and sizes.

Next, we will look into the different types of chair mats with lips…

Types Of Chair Mat Lips

Like the different types of chair mats that are available, there are different types of shapes that are available for chair mat lips that we will be described below:


This is probably one of the most common type of chair mat lip that is available. This is a rectangular projection that is attached to the end of the chair mat.

The chair mat itself can be of any shape like:

  • Rectangular
  • Tear drop or bulb shaped
  • Circular
  • Splash
  • Semi circular

This is how each of the will look:

Different Types of Chair Mats With Lips

In the above picture, you can see the different shapes of a chair mat with extended lips. All of these serves the same purpose of protecting the floor under the table.

However, which one you choose will depend on your personal choice.

Also, the Splash-shaped mat can have lips or no lips. This is because the extended part of the splash can act as the lips.

When you are selecting such a mat, check if that extended part of the splash is enough to cover the base of the chair and the floor under the table.

Circular/Semi Circular

This chair mat lip shape is also common. It is basically a semi-circle cutout attached to the end of any of the above mat shapes.

I’m just showing you the representation of this type of chair mat lips in one of the shapes. The rest of them are also similar.

Different Shapes Of Chair Mat Lips

The circular lips can be either smaller and extends from the center of the map with considerably away from the edges as show in the second figure of the above image.

Or, it can extend from edge to edge as shown in the third figure. If you have this type of a chair mat, then the overall clearance of the mat needed under the table will be more as the width that it is covering is the same as the rest of the mat.

This type of chair mat lips is also called contoured as this is just a cutout of the same.

ShouId I Use A Chair Mat Without Lips?

You shouldn’t use a chair mat without lips. If you do that, you are risking damage to the flooring under the table.

When you use a chair mat without lips, if the chair rolls under your table, which it will, may potentially damage the floor.

However, there are certain cases where you can use chair mats without lips.

If you are in a home office, then you can use a chair mat without lips provided you can lift the table and place the mat under it.

This is, however, possible for tables that are lighter in weight. For example, those that are made of MDF or a mixture of MDF and metal.

This will be near impossible if you have a pure wood table or table that has some kind of stone top or any other usage of stone.

These kinds of tables are very heavy and moving them from their usual spot needs a considerable amount of effort. Also, you cannot do it alone. You will have to take the help of your family and friends or some other hired help.

This may potentially cost you money, much more than the price of the mat. This I feel is a waste and need not be done. But then again, everyone’s preference is different…so you will be the best judge of that.

In another situation, you may get away with not using a chair mat with lips. If the floor is made of concrete with a cement finish.

These floors are virtually indestructible and are not as delicate as vinyl or hard wood floors. They nearly never get defaced and with this simple rolling of a chair and those humble caster wheels are nothing against these mighty concrete floors.

Also, if you have marble stone flooring, then also, you need not use chair mats with lips. In fact, in such cases, you need not use chair mats at all. Your floors are hard enough and rolling of caters will not scratch them year after year.

I’ve personal experience with both of these types of floors as my home has both of these types of flooring materials at different levels of the building.

Other than that, you must use chair mats with lips. The rest of the materials are delicate and will show signs of scratches after some time.

What size chair mat lips do I use?

The size of the chair mat lips will depend on the size of the mat you are choosing. Also, this is further dependent on the dept of the table and the distance till which the chair rolls under it.

This is also somewhat dependent on the chair you use as if you have bigger chairs then it may not inside the table as much as a smaller chair.

Also, if you chair has armrest, then also, the distance that it will roll under the table will be less as it will get stopped by the table at the point where the armrest touches the table.

It can also be dependent on the table. If you have a narrow space between the legs of the table, then you cannot go for a wide chair mat lips. In that case, you will have to go for something that has a narrower lip.

The best way to determine this is to measure the distance between the front legs of the table and then choose a mat accordingly.

Also, another aspect will be, the chair mat lips should not be longer than the front edge of the table. If that is the case, then if there is a bit of side rolling from the chair may touch the floor and may damage it.

Not only the size of the chair mat lip that is important. The shape is also equally important as well. Sometimes your only option will be to use a rectangular chair mat lip.

Otherwise, you may end up wasting money. If you find a rectangular chair mat lips to be bland and boring, then first measure the distance between the front legs of the table.

Next measure the widest part of the non-rectangular chair mat lips. If this is sightly smaller than the distance between the front legs of the table, then by all means go for it.

Otherwise, search for something smaller that will suit your taste as well as under your table properly.

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Madhusree Basu
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