Hardwood Mats 101
The access mats business is unregulated. In order to be satisfied that you have served your business or client to the best of your abilities and have selected the best ROI solution to your temporary access needs, you need to be knowledgeable of the available products and how to correctly apply them. If you are knowledgeable you can avoid being disappointed due to common traps such as:
- unknowingly buying poor products
- encountering access issues due to mat breakage because the wrong mat was used
- buying hardwood mats but instead receiving inferior wood mats containing softwood boards
- incurring unexpected site costs because mats have to be realigned, replaced or double-matting is needed.
You deserve value for your money. Fortunately, Paradox can help.
Hardwoods are strictly defined as woods from dicot angiosperm trees that reproduce by flowers. Generally, they have broad leaves and are slower growing than softwoods. Softwoods are strictly defined as woods from gymnosperm trees, have needles instead of leaves, and are fast-growing. Hardwoods, however, are not necessarily harder than softwoods. A better ranking of a wood’s hardness determined using the standardized Janka hardness test methods defined in ASTM D 1037-12.
Paradox defines a hardwood for use in mat production as having a Janka-tested value above 1150 lbf (5140 N). Note that Sycomore, a common American hardwood tree species used by some competitors in their hardwood mats, only has a Janka value of 770 lbf (3400 N). Poplar, another hardwood, is only 540 lbf (2400 N), while Larch, a softwood by definition, has a rating of 1200 lbf (5300 N), making it acceptable for use in our mats.
Clearly, you need to clearly understand which woods are being used in the mats you are buying, and whether those woods will provide the strength and durability you need. In our oak mat specification (our premium 100% hardwood mat) we state that the timber used in construction must consist of 100% hardwood species, of which oak is the softest species allowable. Oak must comprise at least 70% of the hardwood mat boards, but 30% of the hardwood can be trees such as beech, pecan, and hickory.
We lead the industry in this ‘oak or better’ standard. Unscrupulous competitor’s ‘oak mats’ may include softer woods such as gum, sassafras, ash, hackberry, sycamore or poplar, hidden in the middle boards of the middle layer of the mat – right where you need the strongest wood! They are hardwoods by species definition but are not very hard as measured by ASTM D 1037-12. Buying these mats at ‘oak hardwood prices’ means you overpay for an inferior-quality mat. Or, the mats may be priced low because of the inferior-grade hardwoods used, meaning you may save money initially but then find you must buy more mats than originally planned due to mat failure. You may never know that you didn’t buy ‘oak or better’ hardwood.
When hardwood mats are required, ensure you are receiving true hardwood mats in compliance with your specifications. Beware of pricing that is ‘too good to be true’. Ask for material and manufacturing traceability. And contact Paradox if you need assistance.
Traceable Product. 100% Hardwood. Trust Paradox.