If your building presently has an Aluminum Foot Grille for an entrance mat at the door, THANK YOUR ARCHITECT. If the right style of foot grille was specified for the building and the installation of the floor mats was done well, you may possess one of the most effective floor mat systems available.
Foot Grilles consist of a series of aluminum rails spaced about an 1/8 of an inch apart to allow for debris and moisture to fall below the walking surface. These rails should run perpendicular to the flow of traffic (when they do not, the mats will not perform as well). On top of each aluminum rail, there is usually some type of insert (i.e., carpet insert, polypropylene brush inserts, aluminum abrasive insert, etc.). The purpose of these inserts is to perform one or more of the following duties:
- Absorb moisture
- Scrape dirt
- Provide good traction
- Offer color options to accent surrounding floors, walls and lobbies
Choosing the correct type of insert is crucial to the overall performance of the foot grille. Over time, these inserts tend to wear down or become damaged. When this occurs, the mat looks worn out and visually unappealing. The carpet actually wears down below the aluminum so the effectiveness of the matting to clean shoes is severely compromised. When the inserts become worn, the building engineer or manager is faced with the dilemma of either replacing the floor mats altogether or refurbishing the foot grilles with new carpet inserts.
New foot grilles generally cost from $30.00 to $60.00 per square foot. A small 6 foot x 6 foot sized foot grille could cost from $1,000 and up to replace not to mention the expense of installation and trying to find an experienced installer for this matting system (there are not many). If the foot grille is made up of many sections for a large entrance area (i.e., mall or hospital entrances, etc.), a foot grille that is 10 foot x 20 foot in size can run from $6,000.00 and up. Combine that with the increased need for an experienced installer and replacement of this foot grille becomes quite high.
Refurbishment of the existing foot grilles is a much more cost effective approach. Carpet insert replacement usually runs about $1.50 -$3.00 per lineal foot of carpet insert + installation. Materials and labor to refurbish the existing mats is usually about half of cost of new mats. That same 10 foot x 20 foot mat mentioned above would cost about $2,400 in materials + Installation versus about $6,000 for a new mat + Installation. More importantly, refurbishing your mats poses a lot fewer headaches.
The challenge of refurbishing the foot grille matting has always been in identifying the manufacturer of the floor mat. The threats of lawsuits have forced each foot grille manufacturer to alter the design of their floor matting to avoid any patent infringement issues. One of the design elements that is often altered is the width of the carpet insert.
Most of the carpet inserts slide in a track formed during the extrusion process of the foot grille. These tracks hold the insert in place but allow the insert to slide back and forth within the track. The insert is then usually held in place with a pop rivet at each end of the rail. Refurbishment with factory inserts is not a difficult process provided you properly identify the manufacturer of your floor matting. The bad news is that the inserts for one manufacturer usually will not fit into the foot grilles of another manufacturer. Until recently, this has posed a major challenge for anyone wishing to refurbish their aluminum foot grilles.
There have been several breakthroughs over the years with regard to making old foot grilles look and perform like new. One of great interest actually replaces the factory carpet insert with an insert that possesses sometimes twice the carpet face weight. Furthermore, the inserts are comprised of a heavy denier solution dyed polypropylene which equates to durability and ease of maintenance. The generic term for this product is Diamond Strip. Perhaps the best part of the Diamond Strip inserts is that they fit into just about any of the foot grilles and installation can be performed by a low skilled technician.
If the aluminum portion of the foot grilles are in decent shape (i.e., not bent, broken or rocking, etc.), then refurbishment with a product like the Diamond Strip inserts will transform your foot grille from a tired, worn out has been floor mat into the high tech, high performance floor mat your architect intended for your building. Best of all, the expense for making your floor mat better will be less than the cost of buying a new foot grille!