Placemats, also known as table mats, are coverings or small pads that are designated for individual place settings. They aren’t meant to replace tablecloths. Instead, their purpose is to accentuate the tablecloth you’ve placed on your table.
Placemats are made from all sorts of different fabrics and materials, depending on the purpose you have in mind for them. They can be geared towards decorating, protecting, advertising, or entertaining. Placemats are made from a large variety of methods and materials.
They can be local and traditional or commercial and mass-produced. Since there are so many different types of placemats, it can be hard finding the right one for your dining table. A placemat isn’t just for soaking up the spill but rather is a place setting for the beautiful meal you are about to partake in.
It also serves the essential function of protecting the dinner table from harmful stains and scratches as well as heat damage. However, it is also important as a decoration piece since it adds a unique character or pop of color to the dinner table.
1. Woven Placemats
Woven placemats are best for people who are looking for something that is really easy to clean and looks nice on the table. For everyday use, basket weaves can be really great since they come in all sorts of colors and designs. This ensures that you can pick the right one that suits your personal preferences or the aesthetics of the dining room.
You will be able to use them for indoor and outdoor table settings since the color comes in a huge range. All you need to do to clean the placemat is wipe it with a wet sponge or give it a quick rinse under the sink. The placemats look great for a casual takeout dinner or a formal dinner with friends and family.
They can be dressed up with table centers and posh crockery or dressed down with simple plastic plates. They are also reliable and last a long time. You can also choose woven textile placemats.
Instead of the vintage feel that basketweaves have, textile mats are far more trendy and minimalist. They usually come in boho colors like gray, black, and silver, which act as the perfect backdrop for solid-colored plates or white porcelain. This ensures that your dinner plating looks clean and simple.
These placemats are perfect for any sort of gathering, and they are also easy to clean. They also tend to look more expensive than they are. If you are looking for something whimsical and utilitarian, even fishnet woven placemats look really great.
They have a kind of laid-back texture and style that many people love to incorporate into their household aesthetic.
2. Linen Placemats
Flax linen is a really stylish and popular style for placemats, especially when the primary purpose is to decorate the table. They can be really durable and beautiful, despite the slightly higher cost. If you get high-quality Belgian flax linen, it is designed to stay in place since the material is heavier.
Flax linen has a unique live-in look without looking like it is worn out. It is easy to wash and comes in all sorts of amazing colors that will add the right balance to your aesthetic.
3. Placemats for Kids
If you have kids, you definitely need the right kind of placemat to ensure that clean-up is easier. Mealtime for toddlers seems like a great opportunity for them to cover the entire tabletop with a mess. Silicone placemats have become really popular because they are safe, functional, and cute, and make the cleanup process stress-free.
They are designed to stay in place since they are hard to grab. These placemats are lightweight and come in all sorts of colors. They are also practically stain-resistant, so they will definitely do the job.
One amazing feature of these placemats is that they can also double up as canvases for arts and crafts. This makes them incredibly versatile. Speaking of art, placemats for kids are also designed to keep them occupied in restaurants while dinner is cooking.
Some table placemats are designed to make it fun for younger diners. They are often designed with different sections where kids can color in or solve puzzles. Coloring placemats are a great way to keep kids entertained.
4. Round Placemats
Round placemats are a really unique and smart choice for people who have minimal space, have a round table, or just like the look. Braided round placemats have become really popular since they look elegant for a formal dinner party as well as a casual dinner. They are also easy to clean since you can just wipe them down with a damp cloth to clean them.
They come in different colors that are neutral enough to look minimalistic against any tabletop setting. There are many placemat sets available in sets of four that you can choose from. You will be able to find all sorts of designs, from cloth placemats to handwoven corn straw tops.
If you’re not into the style of round placemats but you know someone who is, then these placemats also make great housewarming gifts.
5. Table Protection Placemats
Table protection placemats are designed to protect your expensive wooden table from burn marks. If you often use hot plates and dishes to serve food, it is important to invest in the right kind of placemat. Heat-resistant table mats can protect your table from burns, as well as scratches.
They are often made from vinyl, synthetic materials such as polyester or PVC. There are also some insulation placemats that you can buy that come in neutral colors and designs. They may not be designed for machine wash, but they are pretty easy to clean.
They also look wonderful for special occasions like Thanksgiving. Keeping with the example of Thanksgiving, using a table protection placemat can save you from burning yourself and the table when you go to place the turkey in the center of the dining room table.
6. Plastic Placemats
If you want easy cleanups after meals and hate messy spills, disposable plastic placemats are the best choice. You will be able to get many simple placemats in all sorts of colors that are a smart choice for your table. They come in various shapes, but rectangular ones are the most popular since they cover the most table space.
They are also extremely durable since plastic is a really reliable material. For cleanup, you can simply dispose of them and don’t need to keep them around to ruin the aesthetics of your table. However, a lot of people critique such products due to the overuse of plastic.
They are unsustainable and add to the non-recyclable garbage of the world. If you insist on having a plastic placemat for its lightweight function, do make sure to find an eco-friendly plastic placemat.
7. Wooden Placemats
Wooden placemats add a unique look to the dinner table. They are sustainable and eco-friendly products that are sure to add some class to your mealtime. They are also pretty easy to clean and can accentuate your furniture.
Wooden tablemats can be used indoors in the kitchen and outdoors on the patio. They are also hardy materials, ensuring the placemat lasts for a long time and tends not to get stained. There are many different types of wood that you can use.
For a more rustic look, you can go with twig placemats which can look refreshing even in minimalistic kitchens. If you are a lover of the outdoors, twig placemats can ensure a vintage dining experience. These Western-style placemats are also great for people who have a wilderness-themed table.
Even though the primary function of this placemat is decoration, it will also protect your table from messes and scratches. The placemats are also an affordable option for bigger dining tables when you want to host a dinner party. However, they are also great for daily use when you want to order some pizza or Chinese takeout.
Bamboo placemats are the best option for those people who want to stay sustainable while also ensuring that their dining table looks great. It is a healthy material that allows you to enjoy your food without having to worry about odor and toxicity. There are many different styles of bamboo mats available, such as Western, Chinese, and more.
They are also designed to be heat-resistant and stain-resistant, which can provide a high level of protection for the table. Some companies even ensure that the surface of the mat is oil-resistant and doesn’t discolor easily due to the process of additional carbonization. Bamboo mats also stay pest-free and are generally affordable options.
Cork placemats are the way to go if you want to stay environmentally friendly. Cork is a natural, practical, and sustainable material that you can use for any kind of table setting. This includes formal events to casual lunches at home.
You will be able to get high-quality products, which ensures that you get good value for the product. These placemats come in a host of different designs and patterns, which go with most aesthetics.
8. Quilted Placemats
Hand-stitched quilt placemats can look really unique and come in all sorts of fabrics. You can choose from a host of products that come in various different colors, patterns, and designs. Such placemats are also made from superior quality materials, which make cleaning spills, and other messes a breeze.
Some reversible placemats also turn into potholders, which are great for setting hot plates on. They are durable materials that last for a long time. They do tend to collect stains since they can absorb liquid; however, quilt placemats are machine washable, so they are easy to clean.
They protect the table from heat, scratches, and stains, too.
9. Vinyl Placemats
Vinyl is a sturdy and reliable material, which is why vinyl placemats are really common. They protect the table from heat, stains, and spills. They also make cleanup really easy since you can easily wipe them clean or lightly wash them in the sink.
Vinyl placemats are also waterproof, which is important for people who have children or those people who are prone to spilling their drinks. They are available in all sorts of colors and designs so you can get plain white ones or vinyl mats with vivid colors and patterns. This ensures that you will be able to find the right fit for your dining room in an instant.
You can also get woven vinyl placemats if you want an option with less plastic and stiffness. Vinyl placemats aren’t just used in the dining room for dinner but also in meetings and conference rooms. They are the perfect place to write on and protect the table.
10. Leather Placemats
Leather placemats are really popular for the superior, sleek look they provide. Leather is as luxurious as it gets and looks really great with any tabletop theme you have in the kitchen or dining room. They are also perfect for business lunches or conference rooms where you need sleek placemats to write on or eat from.
Leather is waterproof, which means you won’t have to worry about any juice, water, or other liquids spilling on the mat. They can also be easily cleaned with a wet paper towel or sponge. Leather table mats are also wear-proof since it’s very difficult to scratch pure leather unless you use a really sharp knife or a pair of scissors on them.
Leather placemats are also generally anti-skid and heat-resistant, meaning you can have a nice hot meal without worrying about staining the table. Despite all these benefits, leather placemats are not environmentally friendly or sustainable. It is better to look out for faux leather placemats, which look just as good as original leather.
11. Paper Placemats
Paper placemats are really great options for restaurants, bars, hotels, catering, and other events where hospitality is a primary concern. They are the most affordable option to choose from when a large number of mats are needed, which is why they are often sold in bulk. They are perfect for most dining experiences, from breakfast to dinner.
Paper placemats are usually disposable items since they aren’t very long-lasting. They don’t require any cleanup at all but do protect the tablecloth or table runner from spills. Many are designed keeping restaurants in mind and have protection measures in place against wine, soups, sodas, sauces, and other types of spillable substances.
12. Polyester Placemats
Polyester is a great blend for placemats since it is a really durable material. Such placemats tend to last for a long time, ensuring that they are a great investment. They come in many different designs and patterns, so you will definitely be able to find one that you love dearly.
They are easy to clean as well since all you need to do is wipe them down with a wet cloth or give them a good wash in the sink.
13. Fabric Placemats
Placemats also come in all sorts of fabrics, from cotton to denim, which you can use to enhance the look of your tabletop.
Burlap natural jute is a really strong and sustainable material for placemats. Jute is a really high-density material that is made from yarn and woven into intricate, sophisticated-looking designs. It goes really well with a rustic and vintage-looking dinner table.
They can even be used to decorate the table for special events such as Christmas, weddings, birthdays, or any other events. Jute is an environmentally-friendly and biodegradable material, which means you will be able to recycle it once you are done with it. You can get more fancy ones if you like, which come with white lace borders as well.
Denim is always a fun and unique style to choose from. It is soft and extremely durable, which means you automatically know that you aren’t investing in an unreliable material. They are machine washable, which ensures that you won’t have to dispose of them if you accidentally spill on them or stain them.
They perform admirably in the presence of heat, protecting the table from burns or marks. They also go well with most themes since they are underrated designs. You can also get a fun combination of jute and denim, which is definitely a unique look to go for.
These placemats are easy to care for since you can wipe them with a damp cloth or sponge to clean them. They are perfect for everyday use but can also look cool for the holidays.
Cotton placemats are often referred to as table linens. They are eco-friendly accessories that you must have if you tend to spill a lot. They are often used in restaurants and hotels since they are functional but stylish options.
Cotton placemats protect the table from stains or scratches and can absorb the liquid from any spills. They are also easy to clean since you can simply throw them into the wash. Depending on the color, these stylish placemats go really well with all sorts of tables and cloths.
They are also great for outdoor dinners in case you want to have a fun BBQ on the patio.
Velvet placemats are beloved by many for their soft feel and chic vibe. They come in a neutral color that won’t take attention away from the food or crockery but seem to accentuate it. High-density velvet can make the table look absolutely elegant and exquisite in a way that other table mats just can’t seem to do.
Velvet can also protect your dinner table from stains, heat, and scratches. This ensures that the lifespan of your table is longer. Many velvet placemats are embroidered with unique patterns that can add to the formal air of the dining room.
These stylish placemats can make it much more fun at coffee time and improve your dining experience. They also make for really interesting gifts and can be used in any space, such as coffee tables, dining tables, kitchens, hotels, restaurants, and offices. They can be washed easily with cool water but shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight.
Lace placemats are a popular and sophisticated option for people to choose from. They are reusable and go with any sort of table setting you want. They make great presents and come in all sorts of shapes and designs.
Lace placemats are usually exclusively decorative and come in all sorts of embroidery patterns. They are made from food-safe materials, and you can choose from different fabrics, from vinyl to cotton ones. They are perfect for any event since spills and stains don’t really harm the placemat at all.
Silk placemats are usually made from natural reed. They are an environmentally friendly alternative to silicone and plastic table mats. Silk mats are heat resistant and protect the table from burns.
They are also really easy to clean since all you need to do is wipe them off. They come in all sorts of styles, but the Thai style is very popular since it is a very traditional-looking placemat. They are often quality items that can be great for entertaining any number of people.
They have a very luxurious look and feel to them, but there is one major problem with silk mats – they only go with certain types of aesthetics, ones that aren’t common in many households. Tablemats or placemats are an essential part of the whole aesthetic of the home, restaurant, business, or hotel. They can serve as a decorative element to the room by adding a pop of color or contributing in a major way to the theme.
They can also be entirely functional if you end up choosing plain ones that are cost-effective and disposable. Since there are so many different types of placemats to choose from, you need to find one that suits your personal needs instead of going for the first one you see in the store.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below I set out answers to commonly asked questions about placemats.
What are placemats?
Placemats are mats arranged on a table, bar, or tray beneath dinnerware at each place setting. Although people often think that these mats have a rectangular form, placemats in square, circular, oblong, and other geometric shapes also exist. Manufacturers design these mats with single or multiple colors and patterns.
Placemats might feature printed, embroidered or sectional surface designs and/or special borders like frames, piping or fringe.
Are placemats still used?
People around the world use placemats every day. Homeowners and renters use placemats in their dining areas when they eat meals or entertain guests. Placemats are also used in many restaurants, diners, and other types of eateries.
In business scenarios, corporate meal hosts, event caterers, interior designers, real estate agents, and home decor content publishers commonly use them as well.
What are placemats used for?
Placemats primarily protect dining surfaces from food- and beverage-related heat, moisture, and stains. They also speed up surface cleaning processes after meals. Certain types of placemats, such as cork and silicone ones, even help to reduce the noise commonly associated with using dinnerware on hard surfaces.
People also decorate with placemats: For example, party hosts often use these mats to make tables look more festive during birthdays, holidays, and other major events. Some homeowners decorate corner and hallway tables with placemats by arranging them under other decorative objects or potted plants.
A photographer might use placemats to highlight a dining room table and special dinnerware and glassware in a feature article about modern home decorating trends. In business, paper mats are often used to promote a business and its products and services in eateries. For example, a restaurant might use paper placemats that feature ads and discount coupons from other businesses.
Placemats for children often feature entertainment-related content, such as word games, puzzles, and line drawings.
Can placemats be cleaned in a washing machine?
Although placemats made of certain fabrics are machine-washable, plenty of mat materials like paper deteriorate when exposed to water. Plastic mats made of materials like laminated paper or vinyl melt in dryers. Residential and commercial placemat users should always check the product care instructions from the manufacturer for their specific mats.
These instructions appear as a label sewn onto each mat or separate instructions included on or in the original packaging.
Can placemats be recycled?
People can recycle or upcycle any type of placemat. For example, owners of restaurants and other eateries can recycle clean, unused, non-laminated paper mats that feature outdated advertising or other printed information with their office paper. Anyone can recycle placemats made from any type of plastic that has a resin identification code that matches codes accepted by municipal recyclers.
With other types of placemats, including used ones, people should do whatever they can to upcycle the materials: For example, with a partially soiled paper placemat brought home by a child, a parent can cut away and toss the soiled part and then use the rest in decoupage or paper-mâché projects. One can use laminated paper mats as book covers or cut them into shapes to attach to key rings.
With a zipper or magnetic clasp, anyone can turn a fabric placemat into a pouch, handbag, or small pillow sham. A person who has a sewing machine can even turn a few placemats into a table runner or use them as backing for a table runner. Cork mats are great for creating push pinboards, coasters, furniture floor protectors, and garden knee savers or work pads.
Some people cut up cotton placemats and weave them into braided rugs, pull canvas ones across small wooden picture frames to use in place of art canvas, and frame beautifully designed mats as wall art.
Can placemats be used with tablecloths? Is it proper or overkill?
Placemat etiquette has changed often in the years since consumers began to use placemats in a mainstream fashion. Some people still have strict ideas about how and when they should use placements. They believe these mats should only be used in formal settings or during major holidays and that they are overkill when used with tablecloths.
Yet, no hard rules exist. People often decoratively use placemats with tablecloths in matching or contrasting colors and styles for various types of dining scenarios.
Can placemats be used with a table runner?
As with tablecloths, people often compliment table runners with placemats. Some people even stack elements by using a tablecloth, runner, and placemats at the same time. How a person uses their placemats depends entirely on the event, their personal tastes, and the specific look that they’re trying to achieve when using the mats.
Are placemats heat-resistant?
Some people use large, heat-resistant bamboo and metal trivets as placemats. Conversely, they also use placemats as trivets for pots. Commonly used heat-resistant placemat materials include bamboo, cork, natural rattan, and silicone. Even though people can use cotton and leather mats to reduce the amount of heat that transfers to dining surfaces from hot plates and bowls, these materials often allow condensation to form.
Water-resistant plastic and laminated placemats are not heat-resistant.
Can you iron placemats?
Since an iron can burn certain materials like paper and melt plastic, people should only use an iron on fabric placemats. More importantly, since certain fabrics like silk can become damaged easily even when ironed on a low setting, people should only iron fabric placemats if they have experience ironing the specific fabric used for a particular mat. Also, some fabric placemats are made of several different types of fibers, which means that it’s important to only use an iron on mats that a manufacturer has marked safe for ironing.
What are the typical placemat size dimensions?
Placemat dimensions vary by manufacturer, mat design, and usage in a particular setting. For example, large, rectangular, paper ones used in eateries might be 12 or 14 inches high and 18 or 20 inches long, depending on the size of the tables. A restaurant owner might purchase larger ones if the mats double as advertisements or entertainment content for children.
Many manufacturers stick with 12 by 18 inches for rectangular household placemats, 12 by 12 inches for square ones, and 12 inches in diameter for round shapes.
What are placemats made out of?
Common placemat materials include cotton, polyester, silk, lace, canvas, wool, synthetic yarn, vinyl, silicone, leather, cork, bamboo, threaded beads, paper, poster board, and foam. Low-cost mats are often made of only one material and a printed graphic or decorative stitching because simple styles are cheaper to mass-produce. Large and luxury home brick-and-mortar and online stores sell decorative mats made of several material combinations, such as cotton and bamboo or canvas and leather.
Placemats made of one type of top material that features a backing or an underpad made from a separate material are also common.