The Passage of the Marshes
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic “The Two Towers,” Hobbit heroes Frodo and Sam had to pass through the evil, haunted Dead Marshes on their quest to Mordor. Needless to say, Frodo and Sam didn’t have mats on the ground and Frodo almost got killed for his trouble – as he often did, frankly.
In our line of work, we know better. No contractor worth his salt is going to presuppose he can mobilize his crew into a particularly muddy or marshy area without some kind of matting and not run into some serious problems. But what are the best kind of mats to use?
Simply put, the choice is polyethylene composite mats, and here’s why…
- They Float
Composite mats are unique in that they’re buoyant, allowing you to easily cross water – be that areas that flood or simply muddy marshes. The fact that they pin together is also a major advantage when water rises, keeping individual mats from floating away and reducing the distance an entire road or pad can shift. This buoyancy is helpful in particularly muddy water, as you’ll have a much easier time seeing where it’s safe to drive. If the water isn’t particularly deep, mats can also be pinned into the ground to prevent movement while floating.
- They Won’t Sink – Into the Mud, That is
Let’s say what you’re dealing with more mucky mud than standing water. The fact that composite mats link together into a continuous work space makes it much more difficult for them to sink into the mire, unlike individual wood mats – especially laminated wood mats full of slats. On especially soft mud or marsh land, it’s also easy to stack rows of composite mats to ensure the top level stays as dry as possible. If the mud is particularly gunky, it may well seep through pinholes and make the top of the mats dirty, but you can always have full confidence that you’ll be driving and working on solid ground.
- Composites Cleanup Easily
If rental wood mats have sunk in the mud, you can pretty much forget about returning those. If they haven’t already broken to pieces in the mud, they probably will during removal, and the few that do survive will never be totally clean. Composites on the other hand will not break under the pressure of removal from mud and the mud that doesn’t fall off of them can be rinsed off. They shine up like a new penny, ready for the next job.
- They Won’t Retain Water
No one likes carrying extra weight. Most wood mats are going to get water logged after extended periods in wet locations, thus making them much heavier for freight out and requiring more expensive trucks. Not so for composite mats. They trucks you needed to bring them in will be the same truck you need to take them out.