How to Choose the Best Doormat for your Front Door

home sweet home doormat

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How much thought did you put into the doormat currently at your front door? Is it time for a replacement? When the time comes, many people just grab a basic doormat from a big box store and call it “good”, but it really is best to put some thought into it. Ideally, you want a doormat that balances style, function, and durability. So, how do you choose the best doormat for your front door?

Your front door is the first thing any guest will see.

Whether you live in a house, apartment, townhome…or even a houseboat, RV, or renovated shipping container, there will always be a primary entrance to welcome visitors to your home. Your front door is the first thing any guest will see, so you will want to showcase a bit of your personality right from the start, at the entrance. Placing a doormat outside your door will add to that first impression, as well as helping to protect the floors inside.

Why is a Doormat at the Front Door Necessary?

Doormats are almost as universal as front doors themselves. But why are they important? They serve two primary functions: To provide a decorative element at your main entrance, and to help protect the interior of your home – especially the floors – from outside elements such as moisture, mud, dust, and allergens. A good doormat really is the first line of defense for keeping your home clean, organized, and free of outside debris.

A good doormat will:

  • remove most of the mud, water, dirt, and grime from your shoes
  • reduce scratching and damage to wood floors
  • reduce wear and staining on carpets
  • improve indoor air quality by removing allergens and other contaminants
  • all the while welcoming visitors in a stylish and decorative way
three pairs of sneakers - blue, white, black - on a brown welcome mat

What are the Basic Types of Doormats?

Outdoor Mats

Outdoor Mats are, as the name implies, meant to be placed on the outside of your door. These mats tend to be made of the toughest, most durable materials such as rubber, teak, iron, or synthetic woven rope. A top quality outdoor mat will stand up against water, salt, mud, snow, and the sun’s harshest rays. They are usually made from synthetic materials that dry quickly and do not rot or mildew. Additionally, a good outdoor mat may have a textured or “scraper” surface, designed to remove even the muckiest mud from your shoes or boots.

Indoor/Outdoor Mats

Indoor/Outdoor Mats may be somewhat less durable. When used outdoors, they are generally best for covered or protected areas, and areas that get less traffic. Typically made of coir, seagrass, or jute, these mats can handle lots of traffic and work well in enclosed porches or apartment hallways where they won’t see direct exposure to rain, snow, and sunlight.

Indoor-Only Mats and Throw Rugs

Indoor-Only Mats and Throw Rugs are often made of sisal, fabric, or rope woven from soft, synthetic fibers. They are lighter, flimsier, and not designed to withstand exposure to weather. They are also likely to blow away in a strong wind, or slip around when wet, making them highly ineffective outside. Consider them extra cleaning insurance or as a decorative accent and use them inside your home.

What Are Doormats Made of?

Rubber Mats

Rubber is a common material for outdoor mats. It’s inexpensive, durable, and weather-resistant. It’s not always the most attractive material, though, and outdoor rubber mats tend to harden and crack over time when exposed to extreme cold. Mats may be made entirely of rubber, or use a rubber backing under another material. Several companies manufacture mats made from recycled rubber.

rubber doormat

Wood Mats

Teak is an extremely hard, durable wood – often found on ships. A teak doormat will generally be slatted to easily scrape off dirt, water, and other debris. Teak is weather-resistant, easy to clean, and surprisingly not slippery. The color will fade from brown to a weathered grey with exposure to the elements.

Polypropylene Nautical Rope Mats

Polypropylene nautical rope is super tough and durable – it was designed to tether buoys to lobster traps in the ocean, so you know it’s strong. Naturally weather resistant, rot-proof, and very heavy, these woven mats are workhorses designed to last for years in any weather.

Cast Iron Mats

Cast iron mats are extremely heavy and durable. They tend to be more decorative than functional, however, and can be slippery when wet. Most cast iron mats will have rubber feet to prevent the iron from sitting in pooled water, which can damage its appearance.

Coir Mats

Coir comes from the outer husk of a coconut, and is a 100% natural, renewable resource. It is strong and textured, making it a good choice for removing debris, but shedding can be an issue. Coir mats will stay soggy when wet and may rot. They will also darken with age. However, they can be found in a wide variety of design styles, and are very versatile when used in a protected location. Sisal and jute are other natural materials that may be used in dry areas or indoors.

Fabric Mats

Fabric used for doormats includes cotton, wool, nylon, acrylic, and polyester. It’s the most versatile material as it can be braided, tufted, quilted, or woven; made into any shape; screen printed; painted; and designed in many other ways. Available in every color and color combination, and many sizes, fabric mats are excellent decor items. Because of the variety, it’s easy to find a fabric mat for every style of home – but they generally are more fragile than other mats, and should only be used indoors.

fabric doormat

What Size Doormat Should You Buy?

Standard Mat Size

The most common doormat size for front doors is 18″ x 30″, which works well for standard single doors. But doormats can be found in all different shapes and sizes. You will want to consider the width of your door as well as the size of your front porch or steps – and personal preference – when choosing the size for your doormat.

Extra-Wide Mat Size

Double doors and doors with sidelights may benefit from a larger mat to balance the extra width. Consider a mat that measures 24″ x 36″ for these spaces. If you have your heart set on a smaller mat, don’t despair – try placing your mat on top of an outdoor rug for a layered look that will fill in the extra space. Layering in this way is a popular design element that can add the extra size you need to balance a larger entryway.

If you are still unsure about the size you need, cut paper or cardboard in different sizes, or use tape or chalk to measure out the doormat area. Stand back and take a look at what is most appealing to your eye. Be sure to account for any accent decor, planters, and furniture that also needs to fit around the door area.

What Style of Mat Should You Choose?

Once you’ve determined the functional needs of your doormat, the material, and the size, it’s time for the fun part – choosing a mat that suits your personal style.

You may choose to coordinate with the exterior elements of your home, or match the color scheme of the exterior or interior. Mats can be found in traditional, modern, farmhouse, vintage, and other familiar styles.

Are you more drawn to neutral tones or bright colors? Traditional motifs, playful patterns, or funny sayings? Classic looks, urban cool, or whimsical designs? Do you want to showcase your home as a beach house, lake house, cabin, or castle? The variety of doormats is almost endless, so you are sure to find something that speaks to your tastes.

Since doormats tend to be fairly inexpensive, as decor goes, you may choose to rotate several mats throughout the seasons, with special holiday mats mixed in. Your preferences really are your only limits.

More Shapes and Materials for Doormats:

lemon coir doormat
Lemon Motif Coir Mat
how to choose the best doormat for your front door
Floral Motif Coir Mat
iron doormat
Cast Iron Welcome Mat
rope doormat, how to choose the best doormat for your front door
Braided Rope Mat
rectangular wood doormat
Slatted Wood Mat
rubber and coir doormat
Rubber Mat with Coir Inserts

Where Can You Buy Doormats?

Doormats can be found at most retailers that provide home goods, including “big box” stores such as Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, Target, and Costco. Online, there is an excellent selection at Amazon, Wayfair, and Overstock. For more unique and personalized designs, consider a handmade doormat from one of the many Etsy shops.

Want a design that’s going to be different than every other house on the block? Check out

For the most durable woven rope mats that will last for years, look to Maine Rope Mats, Cape Cod Lobstermats, or The New England Trading Company.

And remember to consider eco-friendly and recycled options – there are plenty out there at all of these retailers.

brown and white dog sitting on doormat in front of white door, with leash in his mouth

Key Takeaways for How to Choose the Best Doormat for your Front Door

The key to finding the best doormat for you is to balance durability, function, and personal style.

Take into consideration:

  • the location and exposure of your front door
  • the need for weather-proofing and water-resistance
  • the amount of foot traffic your mat will experience
  • the material/s including top surface and backing
  • the size needed
  • your budget
  • your personal style and decor goals

Choosing the best doormat for your front door doesn’t have to be a difficult decision, but it’s worth taking a little extra time to find the right doormat that will serve your needs and suit your style. Hopefully, you have gained some useful information to help you make the best choice for your new front doormat.

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Home Sweet Home doormat, how to choose the best doormat for your front door

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