What Makes a Good Floor Liner?
Even though you don't walk on vehicle floors, they are subject to more wear than most other floors. The car floor mats have to handle amounts of dirt that no house mats are subjected to, as there is nowhere to scrape off the dirt before getting into a vehicle. They have to handle melted snow, liquid spills, food spills, clay and sand. They should withstand all this, and be easy to clean. But most original floor mats are made to look good in the showroom, and tempt you into buying the vehicle. They are not made to be used and they lack just about all the features that you want in a protective vehicle floor covering.
All the properties you want in a mat
Accessory floor liners are everything that original vehicle floor coverings should be. Good floor liners
- are impermeable and contain all spills, keeping the vehicle floor dry and clean
- have ridges that keep your feet above the spills keeping your shoes dry and clean
- have a surface that is easy to clean
- are easy to take out for cleaning
- are easy to reinstall
- don't spill the dirt when you lift them out
- can be hosed off
- dry quickly for immediate reinstallation
- are reinforced in the areas subjected to the heaviest wear
- stay securely in place
Floor liners are perhaps the most useful and time and money saving accessories you can buy for your vehicle. They make it easier to keep your vehicle clean, and they actually pay for themselves by keeping the original vehicle floor in as-new condition. An original floor that looks like new is something that means a considerable increase in trade-in value for your vehicle, as a clean and as-new floor is considered proof of good care. If the floor has been taken good care of, people (and dealers) think there is a very good chance that you have taken good care of everything else too.
No rubber feel
Modern floor liners not only provide perfect protection for your original floor mats. They also look good while doing it. You no longer have to convert your comfy interior to look like a utility truck just to protect and preserve the luxury floor. With the modern materials you can keep a comfortable feel and make the interior look good, even with floor liners installed.The modern thermoplastic liners are engineered to combine perfect protection with good looks and a nice tactile feel. There are even liners that combine the protective layers with a nylon tuft surface, color matched to the original floor covering if you so wish. The only thing that gives these liners away is the channel pattern that keeps liquids away from your feet. Otherwise they look and feel like original carpeting. Floor liners must stay flexible even when the temperature is extremely low. They must be odor free, and they must never get sticky, no matter how high the temperature is. Modern floor liners are not only custom cut to fit perfectly in each individual vehicle, they are also made in custom designed materials.
The thermoplastic materials used for floor liners are purpose designed and fill all the specific requirements for a vehicle floor protection that you can wish for. Some liners are made with layers of different thermoplastics, with a bottom layer that is slide resistant and helps keep the liner in place, a middle layer that provides structure, and a top layer with a non-skid surface that also is nice to the touch.
Custom fit for best protection
The best molded floor liners like WeatherTech, Nifty or Husky are for a custom fit. They cover both the floor and a couple of inches of the walls of the foot wells, leaving no crevices where dirt and moisture can be trapped. Some liners also cover the threshold, to make it easy to empty the liner without spilling dirt and liquids. There are also semi-custom fit liners, featuring a wide, soft lip that can be trimmed to precise fit. This is more common for second and third row liners than for front row liners. This can be a good solution where the wear and the risk of spills is not that great, but for the front foot-wells custom fit liners definitely are a better choice. Some front liners are made in one piece, covering both the foot-wells and the center hump. While this offers very good protection, these big liners are unwieldy to install and to take out for cleaning. In most cases it is probably better to choose a covering made in pieces.The structure and the anti-slip properties of the liner are important to consider. A certain amount of stiffness is desirable, as it makes it easier to lift the liner out for cleaning without spills. Too much stiffness can make the liner unwieldy and difficult to lift in and out.
Liners must stay in place
The liners have to stay securely in place to provide the protection you want. Many liners have nibs on the bottom surface that dig into the original textile floor and keep the liners in place. This is sufficient for liners in the second and third row of seating, but in the front, and especially in the driver's foot-well, the liners should be locked in place with an anchoring system, either attach to the original floor mat anchors or to a custom anchoring system. Liners that slide forward can block the pedals and cause difficulties in emergency situations, or even create emergencies. This is also why you never should place the liners on top of loose floor mats. The anchoring systems are only designed to handle one layer of mats.
Take a good look at the pattern of the liner. Deep channels and high ridges are essential for keeping your feet dry and clean. At the same time, the pattern must be open, and with rounded corners, to be easy to clean. Even if the thermoplastic materials are very wear resistant, the hard-wearing parts of the liner should feature reinforcements. This is particularly important for the spot where the driver rests the heel of the gas foot. This is the one spot that wears out on otherwise perfect mats, and if it is not reinforced to take the hard wear, the whole set of liners can lose its value much earlier than necessary. With a proper set of floor liners, your vehicle will be more pleasant to use, and it will keep its value better than if you leave the original floor unprotected.
by Peter Altrem on