Floor mats are more or less a necessity in the car world. They protect your carpet from the dangers of the world, like spills, mud, dirt, and more. Oftentimes, floor mats are the first things to go into a new car; sometimes, dealerships will even include them with the car fresh off the lot. They’re just that essential.
The good news is, there are a multitude of different types of floor mats out there to fit a variety of budgets. All of them do their main duty of protecting your carpet, but they all have their key differences.
Custom Floor Mats
Custom floor mats are a great choice if you’re looking for the ultimate protection. They’re designed to fit every nook and cranny of your vehicle, which means that no corner is left unprotected. Of course, this also means they come with an appropriate price tag; custom floor mats can go up into the hundreds. For some people, the investment is undoubtedly worth every penny. For others, perhaps those with older secondhand vehicles, the idea of sinking so much money into floor mats is enough to make their wallets cringe.
The unique nature of custom floor mats makes them more specific and difficult to manufacture and produce than universal floor mats, which can be mass produced in huge numbers due to a large and constant demand. Retailers and manufacturers don’t want a huge inventory of 1998 Toyota Corolla floor mats hanging around, so generally speaking custom floor mats are usually made to order. That means that once you go through and purchase them, you still have to wait for them to be made before they’re even shipped out to you. This is in sharp contrast to universal floor mats that you can grab off the shelf at Target.
The most important thing to consider with custom floor mats is that when they say custom, they truly mean custom. Manufacturers get down into the nitty gritty of every little detail, so you really need to do your research before ordering and make sure you know exactly what vehicle you’re driving. You can get the make, model, and year right, but something as silly as the wrong trim can potentially throw your entire order off. This sounds like an obvious detail, but with how much you’re spending on custom floor mats, it’s worth it to make sure you’re getting what you need.
Universal Floor Mats
Universal floor mats are a good alternative to custom floor mats because they come at a fraction of the cost and for the most part, any set you pick up will be able to fit in your vehicle. They’re also easy to find – you can order them online, pick them up at Walmart, and sometimes even snag them from your local carwash. This makes them a convenient purchase, which is much more appealing than doing the research required when shopping around for custom floor mats that fit your make, model, and year exactly.
The downside to universal floor mats is that while they do work well enough for most vehicles, they’re never going to be a perfect fit. They leave areas of your carpet exposed and tend to slip and slide around beneath your feet, which exposes even more of your carpet and can lead to getting dirt and mud where you don’t want it. And for some oversized and specialty vehicles, universal floor mats might not work at all. This is the sacrifice made for their affordable price, however, and their ease of availability. For most consumers, universal floor mats work just fine and the minor annoyances of not fitting perfectly and sometimes sliding around are easily dealt with.
Trimmable Floor Mats
Trimmable floor mats, also known as trim-to-fit or snip-to-fit floor mats, are a happy medium between universal floor mats and custom floor mats. Their cost skews towards the more affordable prices of universal floor mats, but the unique ability for the mats to be trimmed to a certain shape or size allows for a more accurate fit. Most trimmable floor mats are made of rubber or vinyl, which allows for easy cutting and also provides adequate protection once they’re installed. The secret is in the trim lines, which are etched into the material giving you a guideline to cut.
Before you make any snips, cuts, or trims, check out how the floor mats fit in your car first without any adjustments. This gives you a good idea of where you need to cut, which saves you time and eliminates the guesswork. In some cases you might only need to trim at the corners, while in others you may have to go to town and chop the whole mat up. It’s good to get a visual of what you’re working with before you start hacking away; the last thing you want is to trim too much away, leaving you with exposed and unprotected carpet. Here’s a tip: Trace over where you need to cut with a Sharpie so you have an easy reminder and won’t lose track while you’re shaping the mats to your needs.
Once you have your shape and size set, it’s as simple as cutting on the dotted line. Some thicker materials might require a sharper instrument like a box cutter, but generally most trimmable floor mats can be snipped with a simple pair of household scissors. Just another point to add to their convenience! This is where the tip above comes in handy – if you already have everything traced out with a Sharpie, you just have to worry about following the lines.
And after that…stick your floor mats in your car and enjoy them! Of course, the fit isn’t ever going to be as perfect as custom floor mats will be, but for the price you pay and the small amount of effort involved, trim-to-fit floor mats are a pretty good deal.
How They Compare
So now that we know a little bit about custom floor mats, universal floor mats, and trimmable floor mats, it’s obvious that each type has its own unique advantages and drawbacks. Let’s have a look at the basic pros and cons of each type:
Universal Floor Mats
Easy to find and buy
A quick solution
Can leave areas of your carpet exposed
Slip and move around
a perfect fit
Custom Floor Mats
Complete fit and protection
Higher quality materials
Expensive – can be hundreds of dollars!
Research required before buying
models may have to wait to be supported
Trimmable Floor Mats
Can be trimmed to fit most vehicles
Provides more complete protection
Requires customer labor
Not as perfect of a fit as custom floor mats
happen! Trim too much and that’s it
Overall, any type of floor mat has the potential to be a great option. It just depends what you’re looking for and what kind of budget you’re working with. For some people, trim-to-fit floor mats might be a no brainer, but others might not want to put in the extra effort of sizing them out and cutting them to fit. And there are definitely people out there who would absolutely lay down the cash for custom floor mats without blinking an eye, without even giving a second thought to the other options.
Take the time to think about what you need and what you want. No matter what you choose, the most important part is that the floor mats will be doing their job…which is to protect your carpet!