How long do anti-fatigue mats last? PVC mats lasts 6-12 months. PVC/nitrile mats last 1-3 years. Pure nitrile mats have a life expectancy of up to 8 years.
We use 100% nitrile to manufacture our 100-1, 100-ESD, and 100-Cleanroom Series mats because of the material's durability, ability to customize, and the fact that it never loses its ergonomic cushion.
But you need more than a general life expectancy statement when deciding which anti-fatigue mat to buy, when trying to build the business case for mat purchases, and when assessing return on investment. So, let’s go one step deeper.
PVC lifespan = 6-12 months
PVC/nitrile lifespan = 1-3 years
100% nitrile lifespan = 3-8 years
PVC = Cheapest mat, not impervious to liquids
PVC/nitrile = Good comfort, liquid-resistant for short period of time
100% nitrile = Impervious to liquids/chemicals, doesn't lose ergonomic cushion
PVC = $5 per sq. ft.
PVC/nitrile = $10 per sq. ft.
100% nitrile = $15 per sq. ft.
First, the methodology. For the following examples, we will look at the cost and life expectancy of an anti-fatigue mat that is used by a single person for 40 full-time working hours each week (2,080 working hours each year).
Mat Cost Per Sq. Ft. / (Total Hours x Mat Life Expectancy) = Cost Per Worked Hours Per Sq. Ft.
100% Nitrile: Cost Per Hour Worked for a $15 Per Sq. Ft. Mat
Let’s start with AcroMat’s most popular product, the 100-1 Series mat. The 100-1 Series is made from 100% nitrile rubber, which is impervious to liquids, chemical resistant, antimicrobial, and does not lose its ergonomic cushion over time. The 100-1 Series costs roughly $15 per square foot and has a lifespan of up to 8 depending on environment and maintenance.
Assuming a 40-hour work week, here is how much the 100-1 Series would cost per square foot per hour worked by an employee over the mat’s expected lifespan:
- 3 years – $0.0024 per hour
- 5 years – $0.0014 per hour
- 8 years – $0.0009 per hour
PVC/Nitrile: Cost Per Hour Worked for a $10 Per Sq. Ft. Mat
Next, consider PVC/nitrile mats, which cost closer to $10 per square foot and have a life expectancy between 6-24 months years. Assuming a 40-hour work week, here is how much the mat, likely a PVC/nitrile blend, would you cost per square foot per hour worked by an employee over the mat’s expected lifespan:
- 6 months – $0.0096 per hour
- 1 year – $0.0048 per hour
- 2 years – $0.0024
Anti-fatigue mat elasticity is how mats absorb impact and return energy to the foot. Mats that are resilient reduce pain and fatigue. Mats that lack resilience increase musculoskeletal injury risks. In the video above, we tested the elasticity of 100% nitrile vs. PVC.
PVC: Cost Per Hour Worked for a $5 Per Sq. Ft. Mat
The cheapest anti-fatigue mats, made from PVC/vinyl, often come in at around $5 per square foot, and in turn have a shorter lifespan. Assuming a 40-hour work week and a 6-12 month life expectancy, here is how much the mat would cost per square foot per hour worked by an employee over the mat’s expected lifespan:
- 6 months – $0.0048
- 1 year – $0.0024
100% Nitrile vs. PVC
A $5 per square foot PVC mat that lasted 6 months would be twice as expensive per hour worked by an employee as the $15 per square foot 100-1 Series mat that lasted 3 years ($0.0048 vs. $0.0024).
In brief, you would need to purchase 6 of the PVC mats ($30) to reach the 3-year lifespan of the 100-1 Series ($15). In this case, 100% nitrile offers twice the value despite being more expensive on the front end.
100% Nitrile vs. PVC/Nitrile
A $10 per square foot PVC/nitrile mat that lasted 1 year would cost you twice as much per hour worked by an employee as the $15 per square foot 100-1 Series mat that lasted 3 years ($0.0048 vs. $0.0024).
In brief, you would need to purchase 3 of the PVC/nitrile mats for a total of $30 to reach the 3-year lifespan of the $15 mat. Again, 100% nitrile offers twice the value despite being more expensive on the front end.
What About Larger Mats?
The cost differences really take shape the larger the mat. Consider an 80 sq. ft. anti-fatigue mat.
80 sq. ft. 100% nitrile mat: $1200
80 sq. ft. PVC/nitrile mat: $800
80 sq. ft. PVC mat: $400
If the 100% nitrile AcroMat mat lasts 5 years (median), that’s $240 a year.
If the PVC/nitrile mat lasts 3 years (the max), that’s $266 a year.
If the PVC mat lasts 1 year (the max), that’s $400 a year.
Buying cheaper means buying lower quality. In this case, cheaper costs more. Ultimately, it's important to get what will serve your people in the way they need.
How do 100% nitrile mats hold up to liquids? We soaked a pure nitrile mat in water for 72 hours to see if the waterproof claims were true.
4 Cost and Life Expectancy Action Steps
Peel back all layers during life expectancy research and conversations. Focusing exclusively on cost without factoring in quality may save you on the front end but can amount to significantly more over time.
Here are 4 action steps to make sure you get the value you need.
1. Look at the warranty. We read a 600-word "lifetime" ergo mat warranty that says, "installing may void warranty" and "does not include normal wear and tear." In brief, once you unbox and lay your mat out on the production floor, this supplier can void the warranty at their discretion. In this case, lifetime is nothing more than a buzzword to motivate the transaction.
Here's the AcroMat warranty in its entirety: "Your AcroMat anti-fatigue mat is covered by a 2-year full replacement warranty which covers any defects in materials or workmanship. This warranty ensures:
- The edges will life flat and never curl
- The bonds will never come apart
- The mat will never compress and lose its ergonomic qualities”
That's it. 50 words. No easy outs. Before your next purchase, look closely at the product page and especially the warranty. Get clarity in a 1:1 conversation. Request a sample you can put to the test. There should be no ambiguity, ever.
2. Beware of hidden fees. Many anti-fatigue mat providers triple or quadruple prices when custom shapes and sizes are requested. That $10 per square foot quote might double if you request a unique shape or various cutouts. At AcroMat, you pay only for the amount of material used. If you add a custom cutout? The price drops because you're using less material.
3. Try before you buy. Get a free sample, something you can really put to the test. Your provider should be more than happy to send you a free, full-sized sample to make sure you know what you're investing in and that it will serve your people in the way you need.
4. Get feedback. 28% of the safety leaders we polled say they don't begin looking for new mats until there is a "complaint, injury, or close-call." If you wait for a complaint, the musculoskeletal or ergonomic injury already happened. No matter what you do next, your employees are left to deal with the physical and emotional consequences. Worse, your search for new mats is reactive.
Reactive searches lead to reactive purchases. Safety leaders end up skipping critical steps enroute to mats that are the wrong size and shape, the wrong material for the application, haven't been sampled, and come with ambiguous warranties.
Where should you start? Go down to the plant level. Stand on the mats yourself. Watch operators for over 30 minutes to see how they navigate their workstation, if the mat is big enough, if it slides, or if it's causing any trip and fall risks.
Ask, listen, and document:
➡What would you change about the mat you're working on?
➡How do you feel when you go home at night?
➡Do you feel safe and physically supported?
➡Do you have any pains you can't connect to an impact injury?