Floor Mats Vs Floor Liners - Choosing The Right One For Your Vehicle

Guide to Choose Between Floor Mats and Floor Liner

Afraid you might spill something in your new interior? Is snow buildup in your car troubling you? The floor of your vehicle always needs to be protected. That is the reason the floor liner or mat is built. They are often used interchangeably because most people don’t even realize that there’s a notable difference between the two. Both come with their fair share of benefits, but it’s all about finding the right type of floor protection for your vehicle. But, before you choose the best protection for your car, it’s important to have all the facts. Use this guide to get started and then say goodbye to soaked floors for good.

In this article:

Why Does Your Floor Need Protection?

Take a close look at the floor liners or mats installed on the floor of your car. If they were not there your floor would be filled with water, dust, debris, everyday spills, liquid, etc. They also can cause rust holes and corrosion to your sheet metal panels that can damage your floor, side panels, and as well as the chassis of your car.

Mats and liners contain snow, and water and prevent spills on the floor. Just pull out your liner or mat, clean it and the interior of your vehicle will be as good as new. At the end of the day, repairing the floor and body of the vehicle costs several thousand dollars or more than buying floor mats and liners.

What Is A Floor Liner?

You no longer have to fear rainy days. It doesn’t matter how wet it is outside, you can still protect your car flooring from the mud and water that your shoe trails inside the car if you add a floor liner. Floor Liner is a material that can shield the floor of your vehicle from outside debris that might cause damage, such as dust, dirt, snow, and water, especially wear and tear caused by your shoes when it comes in contact with the floor. In this process, you can prevent rust and corrosion and also keep your vehicle floor in the best shape for a long period.

Firstly, a floor liner is created from materials that will not get damaged easily. Secondly, channels and lips are built into it at the edges. These edges help in containing water and prevent leaks from soaking into the floor. Thirdly, liners have a non-slip backing to make sure that they will not move around on the floor. Floor liners are designed to exactly fit the unique interior of each vehicle.

What Are Floor Mats?

The main purpose of a floor mat is to cover your car’s original flooring which is prone to spills, dirt, and debris. The floor mat’s job is to protect the floor of your car from these things and in turn improve your car’s resale value. Floor mats are usually made of flexible rubber or rubber-like material. They’re mostly flat in structure and have deep channels within the mat to gather fluid. Mats can’t hold much liquid like liners but they can remove snow or mud from your shoes easily. They are not custom fit per vehicle. They consist of diamond-tread patterns or other high-grip textures molded into them to protect them from snow, spills, dirt, and debris. Cargo mats are normally used in vehicle trunks and are made with grippy rubber that does a great job of hanging onto the cargo to keep it from sliding around. 

What Is The Key Difference Between Floor Mats And Floor Liners?

Floor MatsFloor Liners
Sectional Mats do not cover the entire floorWall-to-Wall Carpeting liners extend to the full length and width of the floor
Easier to removeThe removal process takes time
Universal fit, may or may not be custom-fittedCustom-fitted

Universal mats consist of excess material around the edges that are trimmed off as needed by the end-user. The advantage of custom-fit mats and liners is that they have built-in buttonholes. These mats should match the location of the locating pegs that are installed on the floor carpet. When holes are snapped onto pegs, a mat or liner will stay in place instead of sliding around. This benefits in keeping the mat in place at all times and avoids any brake or gas pedal interference.

Both floor mats and liners may consist of grooves, cups, or other compartments to trap dirt and liquid to prevent it from escaping, and they may feature a smooth or flat surface. There are a few exceptions in which carpeted floor liners and mats do not have creases. Some styles of mats and liners may feature small, flexible spikes on their underside to enhance grip with the carpet better.

Which Is Better For Me? Floor Liner Or Floor Mat?

A. Coverage

If you tend to spill liquids in your vehicle, then you can face a lot of issues. The spilled liquids can seep into the metal floor and cause rust holes and corrosion after prolonged exposure. It can corrode your metal panels, rusts your floor, and can even cause mold on your floor mats if left unchecked for long. Dirty mats can also lead to smelly interiors and infestation problems. If you want to completely avoid this issue then floor liners are the ideal solution as they provide wall-to-wall protection covering the entire floor surface with hardwearing and water-resistant material which will prevent water from seeping into the factory floor and causing damage. However, if you do not make a lot of mess in your vehicle then floor mats can do just as much of a good job but at a more affordable price. 

B. Aesthetics

Most floor liners and mats are geared toward rugged use and so the design and look of such liners and mats are very practical and less appealing. If you are after pure aesthetics then carpet floor mats are your best bet.  They are very stylish and are more comfortable than the alternatives. Carpet mats are also available in different colors to suit your interior. However, carpet mats can get dirty easily, and cleaning them can be hard. They are also less resistant to wear.

C. Price

Floor mats are less expensive compared to floor liners because they are custom-fitted, that is they are made specifically for a particular vehicle. While floor mats are universal-fit, that is they can fit into any vehicle so the production cost is less and hence they are less expensive. 

D. Off-road Use

During off-road driving, your vehicle will be exposed to snow, rocks, gravel, sand, mud, etc. Floor liners are preferred in this condition because their liners trap snow, rocks, and debris easily and they have high impact resistance when rock or gravel tries to damage them. Floor Liners do not degrade due to solar UV radiation. So if you go out during the summer season your floor liners will not degrade due to sun-rays and your floor will be protected from contaminants.

E. Daily Users

For daily users, though the choice is yours, you can buy floor liners or mats depending on how much protection you need and what your driving conditions are. If you have taken your car on lease or rent and you want to protect your floor then floor mats can help you because they can easily fit in your car, can be easily removed and cleaned, and are cheaper than liners. While if you want wall-to-wall protection from spills you can use floor liners.

What Are The Types Of Floor Liners And Floor Mats?

Types of Floor Liners

All floor liners are made from some form of plastic/rubber hybrid which makes them able to be form-fitted to your vehicle type, offer complete coverage, and are 100% waterproof. These floor liners maintain shape regardless of extreme heat or cold. The following are the types:

1. Thermoplastic Elastomer

These liners are a combination of plastic and rubber. The advantages are that they are flexible, can easily be cleaned, are stain-resistant, and can form into any shape. These floor liners have a longer lifespan when being used in a vehicle’s interior.

2. Thermoplastic Olefin

Polymer/filler blend usually consists of a mix of thermoplastic, an elastomer, rubber, and usually a filler. It does not degrade under solar UV radiation.

3. Polypropylene

Slightly harder and more heat resistant. It is also resistant to chemical solvents. These floor liners have more slippery surfaces which can make them easier to clean. They also fade easily and have a white chalky appearance once it ages.

4. Polyethylene

These liners are a combination of polymers of ethylene in various amounts. Polyethylene is a thermoplastic. Its main properties are that it has high impact resistance and is very tough. They are also inexpensive and have high quality.

Types Of Floor Mats

Floor mats are available in 3 different materials, carpet, rubber, and thermoplastic elastomer which is also called thermoplastic rubber. The following are the types:

1. Carpet

This floor mat is a good choice if you want to match your car floor and is a little more stylish and comfortable. These get dirty very easily and cleaning them can be a chore. They are also more prone to staining. 

2. Rubber

This floor mat is easier to clean. They are also less expensive than carpet. In general, rubber floor mats can be fitted to a particular car based on size and shape or can fit into any vehicle.

3. Thermoplastic elastomer

These are made with a combination of plastic and rubber. Their advantages are that they are flexible, can easily be cleaned, are stain-resistant, and can form into any shape. These mats are very good at returning to their original shape once they are stretched and this provides a longer lifespan when being used in a vehicle’s interior.

Which Brands To Choose From?

WeatherTech Floor Liners And Mats

1. WeatherTech Floor Liners

Key Features

  • The front, back, and sides of your vehicle’s foot are protected by raised outer edges of the weather tech floor liners. Also, the dirt, dust, etc. stays on the liner and off your carpet.
  • Debris is contained by a lower reservoir.
  • It can easily be cleaned and maintained.
  • Its tri-extruded high-density material enhances strength and durability.
  • Its special retention systems with manufacturer’s hardware keep floor liners in place at all times.

2. Weathertech Floor Mats

Key Features

  • Weathertech floor mats are made with deeply sculpted channels that trap water, salt, mud, snow, and sand hence increasing protection.
  • These floor mats are highly durable, flexible during cold temperatures, and also recyclable
  • Its anti-skid texturing lines underside ensures that liners stay firmly in place at all times. 
  • Its non-stick finish makes it quick and easy to clean

Westin Floor Liners

1. Profile Fit Floor Line

Key Features

  • Westin profile Fit floor liners can be easily cleaned and installed
  • It is made with strong and flexible rubber polymer which keeps your vehicle dirt proof. 
  • It reaches every contour of your floor area hence protecting it from wear and tears.
  • Its 2” lip around the liner keeps spills and debris contained.
  • Raised and textured surface provides strong traction
  • It can be used in any weather condition.

2. Sure-Fit Floor Liner

Key Features

  • Westin sure-fit floor liners' rigid core and tactile surface protect the carpet and keep it long-lasting
  • Its OE retention hook openings and 3M securing points keep floor liners firmly in place
  • Its accurate fit and custom full-coverage design protect the carpet from dirt, debris, spills, etc.
  • NOTE: These floor liners will not fit vehicles with vinyl floors.

Rampage Floor Liners

Key Features

  • Rampage floor liners rugged all-season protection with high performance enhance long-lasting capability.
  • Its custom design fits your car perfectly
  • Its narrow underside ensures that liners stay firmly in place at all times. 
  • Its heightened boundary design provides additional protection from spills running off the liner.

Lund Floor Mats

Key Features

  • LUND floor mats protect from dirt, snow, water, grease, and chemicals and are long-lasting.
  • Its heavy-duty construction keeps it long-lasting
  • These floor mats are pressure-formed for exact fit in your vehicle. 
  • These floor mats also enhance durability with an easy installation.

Paramount Automotive Floor Mats

Key Features

  • Paramount Automotive floor mats cover all the contours and curves of your car floor hence protecting it from wear and tear.
  • It is designed for all weather conditions.
  • These floor mats are made from strong materials that increase durability.
  • It's high wall prevents any spilled fluid from dripping on your carpet.
  • These floor mats have raised edges around the hook attachment that limits dirt from getting on the carpet.
  • These mats can be easily removed and cleaned.

Rugged Ridge Floor Mats

Key Features

  • Rugged Ridge floor mats are made from injection molded thermoplastic that can fit your car’s floor very easily.
  • It consists of anti-slip nibs that ensure that mats stay firmly in place at all times. 
  • Its design is made to enhance debris protection
  • These mats can be easily removed and cleaned
  • These mats can be easily attached to your vehicle’s floor hooks

How To Install Floor Liners And Floor Mats?

How to Install your Floor Liners?

  1. Your Old floor liners can be removed
  2. If there are any stickers or safety stickers on the floor liner remove them as well. The safety label on the floor liner can be put in your owner’s manual.
  3. Use a heavy-duty vacuum to remove any dirt or debris
  4. Attach your floor liner to the factory-installed retention hooks on your car floor
  5. Check your floor liner if its properly installed to ensure that there is no interference with brake, acceleration, or clutch pedals

Steps to install your Floor Mats

  1. Floor mats are very easily installed. Never install new floor mats over old floor mats. Always throw away your old floor mats and replace them with new ones. If you do this the new floor mats can slip and cause the accelerator or brake pedal to become stuck.
  2. Take out the new floor mats and place them with factory-installed retention hooks Normally the driver's side floor mat’s shape cut out is on the top right corner. This can prevent the floor mat from interfering with the accelerator pedal. 
  3. The passenger side floor mat is in a rectangle shape. If you buy your floor mat with complete sets you will have two rear seat floor mats which can go on either side of the floor of the back seat.
  4. A floor mat with an anchor hook, which is a small hole and metal circle in it, prevents it from slipping forward. Not all floor mats have this hole. 
  5. Always check that your floor is firmly placed and does not interfere with any of the pedals.
  6. Check your floor mats regularly and whenever you get out of your vehicle make sure that they are not misplaced.

How To Maintain Your Floor Liners And Floor Mats?

How to Maintain Your Floor Liners?

Clean your floor liners whenever you wash your car. Below are the steps you can take for the best results.

A. Your floor liners can be separated from factory-installed retention hooks or fasteners provided by your floor liner’s manufacturer.

B. Keep your floor liners at a level and remove them to prevent dirt, bits, dust, etc. from falling onto the floor of your car.

C. Shake your floor liners outside to remove any loose dirt

D. Splash a bucket of water on your floor liners or spray water on it 

E. Now splash a bucket of water with a little detergent or soap on your floor liners and clean it with a cloth, soft sponge, or brush on both sides. Never use harsh or abrasive materials to clean your liner as it can wear out your floor liners

F. Rinse your floor liners thoroughly with water until all soap is washed out

G. Air dry or towel dry your floor liners on both sides

H. Put your floor liners back from where you removed them and attach them to factory-installed hooks or use manufacturer-provided fasteners.

I. Check your floor liners are not interfering with the pedals

J. Regularly check your floor liner. Always keep your floor liner cleaned. Replace if worn out or damaged.

Steps To Take Care Of Your Floor Mats.

Your floor mats should be long-lasting. To keep them looking their best, give them a good cleaning from time to time. Depending on which floor mat you have will determine what cleaning method will be ideal.

The following are the steps:

A. Take your floor mats out of the car and keep them at a level to prevent any dirt or debris from spilling off onto the floor.

B. Vacuum your floor mats

C. Clean your floor mats

I. Specifically for Rubber or Thermoplastic elastomer floor mats

A. Clean them with water first.

B. Sprinkle a little interior car cleaning liquid on your floor mats.

C. Scrub your floor mats with a brush.

D. Rinse them well

E. Air-dry it and then put them back in where they were located previously.

II. Specifically for Carpet floor mats

A. Scrub your floor mats with a brush.

B. Vacuum any additional dirt

C. Air-dry it and then put them back in where they were located previously.

John Framigllia
Technical Writer
Our technical writer is known for simplifying automotive parts and services. Intuitive with various vehicles and manufacturers, he knows how to simplify complicated problems.