Bathroom Decor: Picking The Perfect Bath Mat

A guide to choosing the perfect bath mat or rug with attention to size, shape, weave, color choices, safety lining, and laundering.

The bathroom may be one of the smallest rooms in the house, but it is the most frequently used. A bath mat is an essential accessory for a safer, more comfortable, and more attractive bathroom.

The first consideration for selecting a bath mat is size. The mat should cover the majority of the floor without running up against the base of the sink or bathtub, either of which may occasionally overflow. A large bathmat allows anyone using the bathroom to avoid walking on cold and potentially slippery tile. The shape is also a factor, and bath mats are available in basic rectangular and oval shapes as well as those molded to fit around the toilet. Themed mats are also available shaped like fish, stars, or other designs to coordinate with a single concept.

A mat's most prominent feature is the shag: the length and weave of the carpet-like surface. Most bath mats are cut pile nearly identical to carpeting, though the weave is usually less dense. Other styles include very short, dense weaves and both large and small uncut loops. To choose the appropriate shag, it is important to consider the amount of traffic using the mat. Family bathrooms often have several people using them, including children. These bathrooms are used throughout the day and may encounter shoes or pets that track in more dirt. Mats in frequently used bathrooms should be more durable and a denser weave or uncut style can withstand more wear and tear. A plush, cut style would be very fashionable for a guest bathroom or master suite that is used less frequently.

The edging on the bath mat is also a style consideration. The shag may extend completely to the edge, or the edge may be covered with dense stitches or a folded ribbon to prevent fraying. Decorative fringe is a poor choice for a bathroom, because it tends to become tangled and is harder to clean than smooth edges.

Bath mats are available in a wide range of colors, from white to black and an entire rainbow in between. Most stores stock colors seasonally, however, so bear that in mind when planning a purchase. Pastel colors such as pinks and yellows are available in spring, bright reds and blues are available in summer, dark greens and oranges are good fall choices, and neutral shades are more prominent in winter. Large stores typically stock basic colors throughout the year. When selecting a color, bear in mind the traffic that frequents the bathroom, and note that lighter colors show dirt and wear more easily than darker shades. At the same time, lint from bath towels frequently accumulates on the bath mat, so a complementary shade best conceals that buildup.

While some bath mats are reversible, most are one-sided and lined with skid-resistant rubber to provide additional safety against slipping. This is especially useful in bathrooms, since water on tile or linoleum floors is a safety risk, especially for the young or elderly. Ideally, the rubber should extend very close to the edge of the mat to prevent folding or buckling. If the particular style of mat you are interested in isn't lined, rubber mats can be purchased separately and cut to fit appropriately.

Just as a bathroom's tile floor needs periodic scrubbing, a bath mat requires regular laundering. Before purchasing a mat, check the cleaning instructions. Many mats are machine washable, which is the most convenient option for maintaining a fresh bath mat. They can also be tumble dried, but pay close attention to the dryer's heat setting: high temperatures may damage the rubber lining and ruin the mat.

Selecting the perfect bath mat is easy when you consider the size of the bathroom and the people who use it. Not only is it possible to choose a design that complements the room, but also one that complements the people, no matter what colors, shapes, or styles are necessary. That attention to detail creates pleasant bathroom d├ęcor sure to last for years.

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