If you’re thinking about installing rubber matting on your farm, one of the most important things to consider is the thickness of the matting you’re using. You don’t want to spend money on the wrong matting and get a nasty surprise when it starts wearing out sooner than you expected, or your surface doesn’t provide the comfort and support your animals need.
To make the search for your ideal rubber surfacing easier, we have put together a short video explaining matting thickness; why it matters, how we measure it, and how we test our mats. We also look at the interlocking systems used to create a seamless and long-lasting rubber surface as well as how to prevent your surface from bulging.
We measure the thickness of a mat, like most people do, from the top to the base. But we also pay special attention to where the mat is thinnest, making sure that thickness is evenly accounted for to provide the best and most durable solution for a given application.
For example, the Kura mat, pictured on the right is 25mm from top to bottom, but if you look at the thinnest part of the mat, in the centre, it’s only 18mm-20mm thick.
That 18-20mm is what we call the guts of the mat, and how we like to measure the thickness of our mats when we compare products and give recommendations.
When you’re out in the elements; sunlight, rain, or frost, you need a “good guts” to the mat. A decent thickness and essence to the mat that can withstand weather and any traffic that will go over your surface. A good mat thickness also adds security and comfort for your animals, improving cow flow, reducing lameness, and helping your stock management overall.
We have tested dozens of rubber mats in our lab. Measuring thickness, quality, MPA rating, flexibility, and durability. One of the tests that we run is the hoof test. We lay a piece of rubber under a machine with a metal hoof attached that goes up and down to simulate the impact of animals standing on the rubber. We keep the machine running day in and day out till we reach around 100,000 stomps on the mats. In this way, we can measure and record the durability of a rubber mat and see if it will last the distance on your farm.
By testing these products, we can see where the rubber might fail and any other faults or issues that might happen over time. We have found that there is a big correlation between the thickness of rubber mats and how long they might last. Thinner mats tend to crack and wear out quicker. Though it’s important to keep in mind that the quality of the rubber mats also plays a role.
Check out the video above to see Mike demonstrate how he likes to measure the thickness and quality of rubber matting and get a glimpse at our testing process.
Interlocking Mats: Waterjet vs Moulded
The interlocking system of your rubber matting surface will also have an impact on the durability of your surfacing. Interlocked mats fit together like puzzle pieces creating a smooth finish that fits your space, but it’s important to note whether the rubber mats have been cut using a waterjet, to get those interlocking edges, or if they have been processed using a mould.
Because rubber is a natural product, it expands and contracts, just a fraction when exposed to different temperatures. This is exactly what can happen when rubber products come out of a mould. The precision and strength of a water jet cut join is miles ahead of a moulded one.
Here at Numat, we prefer to use a water jet to cut our rubber mats. We process our mats in our Oamaru warehouse where we use a water jet cutter to shape our mats. By using a water jet cutting machine we can get tight joints that fit together a lot tighter, reducing the gaps for anything to get through. By using this kind of interlocking system, you get a stronger and more precise interlock that can last longer than a moulded interlocked surface.
One problem people experience with their rubber matting surface is bulging, or bubbling. We often see this in places where a thinner mat has been used. Bulging happens when the rubber gets exposed to heat. When rubber mats are installed in cooler temperatures they are in their most contracted state. If the rubber mats are then exposed to the sun or a warmer environment, they expand slightly. What we then see is that the anchors holding down the corners and edges of the mats then stay in place, but the pressure builds in the middle causing the rubber to bulge out, and this does happen with the thinner mats that are more flexible than the thicker mats.
Something like the Ergomat that is 8mm-10mm thick in the centre, can bulge over time. Surfaces using thicker mats like Kura or Siesta that are 25mm-30mm thick are less likely to experience bulging or bubbling. Quality mats that are thicker will go back to their original size when the temperature of the mat drops again. So, in short, the thicker the mat, the less movement, the less bulging, the less problems.
If you want to find out more about the different thicknesses of rubber matting or our testing process, feel free to give us a call on 0800 686 119. Our team would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Likewise, if you are looking for a rubber matting solution for your farm or application, give us a call, flick us an email, or fill in the form on our contact page.