Need to know how to repair a rubber floor mat? Rubber floor mats are designed specifically to be durable and practical but they will become dirty and damaged over time, so it’s a good idea to know how to repair and restore them.
Knowing how to repair a rubber floor mat will extend the life of your floor mats, so you spend less on the upkeep of your rubber flooring, no matter where it is located. Rubber repair is simple and you can often complete this DIY project without a bunch of materials needed or energy expended.
Rubber and Vehicles
Rubber is still used in all modern vehicles, not just in floor mats but also in the tires, but this material is hardly modern. In fact, rubber was around even before the Industrial Age.
It was discovered in 1770 by Joseph Priestly, who found that dried latex could rub out pencil marks. Other properties of rubber would be noticed later and make this one of the most common and widely-used materials in the world.
This specific use of rubber is what gave the material its name: it rubs out marks, so it is rubber.
But actually, rubber is far older than this. Rubber actually really does grow on trees and ancient people learned how to use it a long, long time ago.
In Central and South America, rubber was in use for hundreds of years. Bronze Age societies used rubber to make balls and played games with them, the same way people do today, more than three thousand years ago.
In Brazil, people even figured out how to use rubber to make a water-resistant cloth. A European who returned to Portfular with examples of the fabric in the 1600s was accused of witchcraft because the material was so remarkable.
Today, more than half of rubber is synthetic rubber but millions of tons of natural rubber are still naturally created every year. Rubber has a stretchy elasticity to it and durability that makes it extremely versatile.
Through the vulcanization process, the rubber becomes more durable and resistant to chemicals. Charles Goodyear was the first person in the modern era to vulcanize rubber using sulfur, a process that Mesoamerican cultures were using as far back as 1,600 B.C.E.
Goodyear's name would go on to become famous in vehicles because yes, this is the same guy behind the tires.
Rubber today is used to make all kinds of items, including floor mats for vehicles and for home interior and exterior spaces. Even with all the technology humans have learned over the past few centuries, rubber is still a popular material that is used all over the world.
The Problem With Rubber
Rubber is spongy and springy and highly durable, but it is not a perfect material. Over time, rubber can fade and crack and may become damaged after heavy use.
Rubber also has rather poor resistance to oils, fats, and grease, which it is exposed to through normal vehicle use. Any one of these substances could cause rubber to get soft, swell, or even break down and become structurally weak.
Rubber also doesn't have high heat resistance. If you've ever "burned rubber," then you know this very well because it does not take much friction or heat to cause rubber to melt.
Both natural and synthetic rubber share the same properties, so even synthetic rubber is susceptible to these weaknesses.
How to Clean Rubber Mats
A good cleaning and some products can get rubber looking clean and fresh again if it is looking dirty or damaged. If your rubber mats are cracked and faded, give them a good cleaning and restoration treatment to get them looking like new.
Spray down your rubber mats thoroughly to get rid of debris, like mud and small rocks. Get into all the small cracks and into the tread of the rubber, if present, so that every single part of the rubber is free of debris.
Use a sponge or a sprayer to apply a mixture of mild liquid soap and water directly to the mats. Soap everything up well.
Get a good soapy layer on the rubber and wait about two minutes for the soap to bubble and get into the cracks of the mat.
Next, gently scrub the mats with a soft-bristle brush. Get into all the little dips and cracks to get every part of the mat clean.
Rinse the mats and if needed, spot-treat any more dirty or stained areas that remain. Let the rubber dry before you treat it to give it a nicer, shinier finish again.
Once the mats are clean and dry, you want to treat the rubber with a restoring formula to re-moisturize the rubber and restore its finish. These restorers are designed to give rubber moisture, which will help to get rid of problems like fading and cracking.
There are a number of rubber-restoring formulas out there that help to moisturize the rubber and bring out its natural luster. You can find plenty of options at home improvement stores and online.
The rubber restorer should be applied with a clean, microfiber cloth. Apply the product as instructed and get into all the cracks and dips of the mats, making sure every part of them is coated.
Silicone sprays are also very effective rubber restorers. This will help to return some of the sheen and color to rubber, which tends to fade and dull over time.
Repairing Small Rips in Rubber Mats
If you have a rip in rubber mats that is less than 12 inches long, a mat repair kit will work to repair this damage. First, use a wire brush to clean all around and inside the tear to remove any loose bits or debris that will affect the quality of the repair.
Cut a strip of repair rubber a little longer than the tear and place this right over the tear to test for size. When you are satisfied with the size of your rubber patch, place glue to the underside of the repair rubber strip.
Apply glue carefully in a thin coat, as too much glue will make the repair look messy and bubbly. Use only a thin coat of glue to get a nice, smooth repair.
Once the repair rubber is in place, press down on the patch using the handle of the wire brush.
Press down everywhere, holding for a few moments, to get good adhesion with the glue. Next, place something heavy on top of the repaired rubber and let it sit there for about 15 minutes.
Repairing Larger Areas of Damage
If you have rips bigger than 12 inches or small holes in rubber floor mats, you will need some special equipment because a small patch won’t provide enough coverage for the damage. Get a heat-seal unit, uncured repair rubber, and Teflon-coated fabric that is non-stick to make a larger rubber repair.
Clean tears and holes in the rubber with a grinder or wire brush. The goal is to get rid of any loose pieces or debris, so you have a smooth area to work with.
Set the heat seal timer to five minutes at 400 degrees F.
Cut the repair rubber piece to the size you need and place the rubber on the spot that needs to be repaired. Cover the repair with Teflon fabric.
Now place the entire mat in the heat seal unit and let it cook for about five minutes. Allow the mat to cool completely and then trim away excess material.
Because rubber melts, the repair rubber will melt into the existing rubber and create a secure bond and a smooth finished result. The repair should be very difficult to see after being heat-treated.
Other Types of Rubber Mats
Rubber mats found in vehicles are the most common and the easiest to recognize but rubber mats are actually found all over the home, too. Rubber flooring has come a long way and now it is possible to have rubber flooring in just about any color or design.
It has become more popular in interior design because rubber floors are durable, soft under the feet, and resistant to moisture. They don’t need a whole lot of maintenance and repairing rubber is fairly easy, especially when compared to other flooring options and how long it takes to repair them.
Rubber tiles are another popular option. Rubber flooring mats are used indoors, in garages and basements, and in outdoor areas as well. The water resistance, durability, and comfortable springiness of rubber make this an excellent choice for flooring anywhere in or outside the home.
Cleaning and restoring home rubber floor mats is exactly the same as vehicle floor mats. All rubber is cleaned and restored with the same processes and formulas.
The only difference is that rubber floor mats inside a home or in outdoor areas are going to be much larger than vehicle rubber floor mats. This will make it harder to move the mats around, particularly if they are indoor mats because you should try to remove them entirely.
Indoor mats cannot be sprayed down the same way you can spray mats down outside, so it is best to remove them from the home to clean them when possible. When this is not possible, you will need to moisten rubber mats by hand using a wet sponge and then clean them with a soapy scrub.
Take care not to splash water around when you’re working on rubber mats indoors, and cover as much of the interior space as possible with plastic to avoid splashes and water damage.
How to Repair a Rubber Floor Mat
It is possible to repair rubber. That's why you can patch tires that have just a little damage done to them and continue to drive safely.
Knowing how to repair rubber and patch up small problems can keep your vehicle interior and your property looking nicer and newer. There are lots of rubber repair kits available and they are designed to be easy to use, so there’s no reason not to take advantage.
Repair a Rubber Floor Mat FAQ
What type of rubber is used in floor mats?
Rubber floor mats might have all sorts of features, such as slip resistance, but they are typically made with the same types of rubber. Foam rubbers, which are made from polyurethane and silicone, are often used in the automotive industry.
Can you glue rubber mats together?
Rubber is a versatile material and it can be glued to other pieces of rubber, which is why it is possible to patch and repair ripped rubber floor mats. You can glue mats together to make them larger to suit a bigger space, if desired.
How do you restore rubber car floor mats?
A good cleaning and treatment with a rubber restoring formula can do a lot to freshen up the look of rubber and re-moisturize it after it has dried out. Only use formulas made for rubber, because rubber has negative chemical reactions with lots of other materials.
What is the best glue for rubber floor mats?
Polyrethane-based glues, which are commonly used as wood glues, work well with rubber. These glues adhere to rubber surfaces and create a strong bond between rubber and other materials, including other pieces of rubber.
Rubber repair kits will come with a glue that should be used to repair rubber. Usually, this glue is polyurethane-based.
How long do rubber floor mats last?
If you are using your floor mats heavily, they will last one to three years before they need to be repaired or at least restored. If your mats see a whole of use, they may need to be repaired after just six months.
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