A Buyers Guide to Floor Liners and Floor MatsWednesday, February 26, 2020

With over 5,500 floor liners and floor mats to choose from, Action Truck knows a few things about floor mats and floor liners. Below we break it down for you so you can make an informed decision when selecting what’s best for your particular needs. We’ll start with floor mats and then move on to floor liners later in the article.

Floor Mats vs Floor Liners

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there are differences between the two:

  • Floor mats are flat and only cover a portion of the floor of the vehicle. They provide some protection from spills but are generally used to prevent wear on the floor of your vehicle’s interior. In general floor mats are less expensive.
  • Floor liners have a raised lip to completely contain spills. They offer the most protection from damage to the floor. Most floor liners are specifically designed to fit your vehicle’s interior.

What are Floor Mats?

The purpose of a floor mat is to cover your vehicles’ original flooring which is susceptible to spills, dirt and debris. The floor mat’s job is to protect the floor of your vehicle from these things and in turn, keep its resale value from decreasing.

Types of Floor Mats

Floor mats are available in 3 different materials, carpet, rubber and thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) which is also called thermoplastic rubber.

Carpet floor mats are a good choice if your goal is to match the floor of your vehicle and are interested in a floor mat that is a little more stylish and comfortable as opposed to utilitarian. They do get dirty more easily and cleaning them can be a chore. They are also more prone to staining. If you have kids, you probably do not want to get carpet floor mats.

Rubber floor mats are much easier to clean and typically do not stain. They also tend to be less expensive than carpet. In general, rubber floor mats are a one-size-fits-all universal fit. This is a less than desired quality for adequate protection from dirt and spills. There are not a whole lot of choices when it comes to rubber floor mats. Brown or black is pretty much what options you have.

Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) floor mats are made out of a combination of plastic and rubber. With that, they have advantages typical of both rubbery materials, like flexibility, and plastic materials like the ease of cleaning, stain resistance and the ability to be formed into any shape. Thermoplastic elastomers are very good at returning to their original shape if they are stretched. This tends to give them a longer lifespan when being used in a vehicle’s interior which is subject to a wide variety of temperatures and abuse.

Installation

Installing floor mats is easy, no special tools are required. If you have old floor mats remove those and throw them away. Do not place your new floor mats over your old ones. This can cause the new ones to slip and cause the gas or brake pedal to become stuck.

You simply take the new floor mats out of the package and place them where the instructions say they belong. The driver’s side floor mat usually has a shape cut out at the top right of the floor mat. This prevents the floor mat from interfering with the gas pedal.

The passenger side floor mat does not have this cut-out and is typically a rectangle shape. If your floor mats came as a complete set you will have 2 rear seat floor mats. They can typically go on either side of the floor in the back seat.

If your floor mat came with a small hole with a metal circle in it, there is an anchor hook on the floor of your car that that hole goes through to keep it from sliding forward. Not all floor mats have this hole. They may have a different method of preventing slippage.

It’s very important to make sure your floor mat is not interfering with your gas, brake or clutch pedal (if you have a manual transmission). Every once in a while it’s good practice to check your floor mats when you get out of your car to make sure they have not moved to a place they shouldn't be.

Care and Maintenance

Your floor mats should last for as long as the vehicle is running. However, to keep them looking their best, it’s a good idea to give them a good cleaning from time to time. Depending on what floor mat you have will determine what cleaning method will be ideal.

  • Step 1: Take the floor mats out of the vehicle making sure to keep it level to prevent any dirt or debris from spilling off onto the floor.
  • Step 2: Vacuum up any dirt with a power shop vac or vacuum at your local car wash.
  • Step 3: Clean the floormats:
    • Rubber or TPE - Hose them down with water, add a little interior car cleaning liquid. Scrub with a brush. Rinse well. Air dry and then put them back in where they were located previously.
    • Carpet Floor Mats - Use standard carpet cleaner and follow the directions on the container. Use a scrub brush for the best results. Vacuum up any additional dirt the cleaner loosened up. Air dry and then return them to where they came from.

The Best Floor Mats

We ranked our top brands based on customer reviews, quality, price, durability and selection. Below are our recommendations for the best floor mats.

  1. Weathertech Floor Mats
  2. Husky Floor Mats
  3. Lund Floor Mats

What are Floor Liners?

Floor liners are made out of plastic or a plastic/rubber material called TPE (thermoplastic elastomer). Floor liners have a lip around the edges that prevents spills from getting on the floor of your vehicle. Floor liners typically are designed to exactly fit the unique interior of each car or truck. Floor liners offer complete protection and that includes cargo liners that cover the trunk or floor of the rear of a hatchback as well as the third-row floor liners for vehicles with third-row seating. There are even some that cover both the rear and third row

Types of Floor Liners

The one thing in common with all floor liners is they are made from some form of plastic/rubber hybrid which makes them able to be form-fitted to your vehicle type, offers complete coverage and is 100% waterproof. Additionally, they retain their shape regardless of extreme heat or cold.

TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) floor liners are made out of a combination of plastic and rubber. With that, they have advantages typical of both rubbery materials, like flexibility, and plastic materials like the ease of cleaning, stain resistance and the ability to be formed into any shape. Thermoplastic elastomers are very good at returning to their original shape if they are stretched. This tends to give them a longer lifespan when being used in a vehicle’s interior which is subject to a wide variety of temperatures and abuse.

TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin) is a polymer/filler blend usually consisting of a mix of thermoplastic, an elastomer or rubber, and usually a filler. TPO does not degrade under solar UV radiation which makes it perfect for interior accessories like floor liners.

Polypropylene (PP) (aka polypropene) is a thermoplastic polymer. It is similar to polyethylene (see below) but it is slightly harder and more heat resistant. It’s a rugged material and is the second most widely produced plastic after polyethylene. It is very resistant to chemical solvents. Floor liners made from Polypropylene typically have a more slippery surface which can make them easier to clean but may be a disadvantage when they become wet. It is also more susceptible to fading and oxidation which may give it that white chalky appearance as it ages.

Polyethylene (PE) is the most common plastic. It’s a mixture of similar polymers of ethylene of various amounts. Polyethylene is a thermoplastic. It has high impact resistance and is very tough. Polyethylene is the least expensive of the materials used in creating floor liners but by no means is it the least in quality.

Floor Liner Installation

  • Remove all other floor mats or floor liners.
  • Remove any stickers (like safety stickers) from the floor liner itself. The safety label can be put in your owner’s manual.
  • Sweep up any dirt or debris with a heavy-duty vacuum
  • Identify which side the floor liners should go on
  • Attach floor liner to factory-installed retention hooks or use those supplied with your floor liner
  • Test to ensure there is no interference with brake, gas or (in some cases) clutch pedals

Care and Maintenance

Floor liners are a breeze to clean and we recommend cleaning them every time you wash your car. Below are the steps to take for the best results.

  • Detach the floor liner from the factory-installed retention hooks or fasteners provided by your floor liner’s manufacturer.
  • Remove the floor liner and be sure to keep it level to prevent dirt and debris from falling onto the floor of the vehicle.
  • Shake it outside to remove any loose dirt
  • Spray it with a garden hose or water spray gun at your local car wash. If those are not available use a bucket and splash the floor liner with water.
  • Add a mild detergent (like dish soap) or Techcare floor liner cleaner to a bucket of water and scrub the floor liner with a soft sponge, cloth or brush on both sides. Be aware, harsh cleaners and abrasive cleaning materials will likely cause damage to the floor liner.
  • Give it a thorough rinse with water until all soap is gone.
  • Air dry or towel dry floor liner on both sides
  • Put the floor liners back where you removed them from and attach to factory-installed hooks or use manufacturer-provided fasteners.
  • Check to make sure there is no interference with pedals

The Best Floor Liners

We ranked our top brands based on customer reviews, quality, price, durability, selection and fit. Below are our recommendations for the best floor liners.

  1. Enthuze Floor Liners
  2. Weathertech Floor Liners
  3. Husky Floor Liners
  4. BedRug Floor Liners
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