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A placemat or a Table Mat is a protective table pad usually made of paper, plastic or cloth or a combination of these materials for use in restaurants and households. The term Placemat is derived from the mat being put at a person's "place" (chair) at a table.

Their primary function is to protect the dinner table from water marks, food stains or heat damage. They also serve as decoration,

American Groundnut


especially placemats made from lace or silk, etc. In restaurants they can be used to advertise menu items, specials, and local businesses. They may also have games for children. Although they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most common ones are rectangular in shape and are about 40 to 45 centimetres (16 to 18 inches) wide and 25 to 30 centimetres (10 to 12 inches) in height



High end restaurants invariably go for table mats customized with their name, logos etc. It is done by way of computerised embroidery on table mats made from cloth, by way printing in case of PVC/PP or laminated mats and by embossing or foil printing for leather mats. It is common to have exclusively designed Table Mats also. An example of one of the companies specialising in customization of Table Mats can be seen here.

Customization is also done for personal use with pictures of family, pet names, drawings done by children etc. Such mats are usually made at home or as a craft project in schools. They can be rather expensive if purchased from professional manufacturers.


Disposable Table Mats

Table Mats made from paper known as “Disposable Table Mats” are meant for one time use in restaurants. They me be just plain or printed with local advertisements, games, puzzles etc. Some restaurants go to the extent of providing with pencils and erasers with Table Mats to keep the young ones engaged while the order is being readied. In many big cities disposable paper mats are distributed free for cost to restaurants with

A paper mat with local advertisements
A paper mat with local advertisements

their name/menu printed along with some local advertisements. Of course the advertisements with conflicting interests are avoided.  

Re-Usable Table Mats
Reusable Table Mats are made from any of the following materials:


Plastics: Materials like PVC/PP are most common in restaurants. Often they come pre-printed with food related images or floral designs. Manufacturers may offer to customize them if quantities are large enough for production batches. Table mats punched from a PVC sheet give the appearance of lace.


PVC Lace Table Mat
PVC Lace Table Mat

Laminated: Made from a combination of paper and PVC/PP materials, these mats are costlier than plastic mats. A thick paper is first printed with desired design and then laminated on both sides with thick PVC film, sealing the edges, to protect the paper from absorbing liquids and stains. Since the print is also protected by this film, the look of the mat and its shape is usually retained through its life. These mats are slightly costlier than PVC/PP mats

Laminated Table Mat
Laminated Table Mat


Cloth: Specially woven fabric which may be plain or have woven or printed designs. These fabrics are thicker and have a stiff feel due to the non absorbent protective coatings. They look very elegant and are normally used by higher end restaurants and at homes. Although the initial cost may be comparable due to the plastic or laminated Mats, their maintenance cost is very high as they can be used only once between washes.

Cloth Table Mats
Cloth Table Mats

Bamboo: Asian-style placemats may feature thin slats of bamboo. They are held together with Nylon/Polyester thread. One can find them printed with simple designs also. They are long lasting and add elegance to the table settings. Bamboo Placemats however require much more care in maintenance, can be unhygienic and take more space to store. They are more suited for home usage.

Cloth Table Mats
Bamboo Placemat - Printed


Leather: Plain or embossed/foil printed, these mats are usually seen at conventions or meetings in hotels. They allow for easier writing, provide an area to lean comfortably and place objects on the table with minimal noise during proceedings. Leather being a natural material, care has to be taken maintenance and storage. Leather mats are costliest of the variety and are usually produced against orders.


Leather Table Mat
Leather Table Mat




This entry is from Wikipedia, the leading user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors (see full disclaimer)

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