You may have seen dart mats in a professional tournament on TV, or you might have just purchased a dartboard and be wondering how you can protect your flooring. In this article, I’ll explain exactly what a dart mat is, why you need one, and the different types so you know exactly which to choose.
What is a Dart Mat?
A dart mat is placed on the floor underneath a dartboard and creates a path towards the player. They are usually made from rubber, carpet/ felt or vinyl and their role is to protect the floor and darts in the event of “bounce-outs”. They also mark the oche which is also known as the toe line where the player stands.
Is a Dart Mat Necessary?
A dart mat is needed when playing darts on any type of flooring. The mat is used to protect the floor from the darts should they bounce out of the board, and it also helps prevent steel-tip darts from breaking if they land on hard flooring. Dart mats are considered essential at all levels of playing.
Advantages of a Dart Mat
There are several reasons why a dart mat is essential, here are the main ones.
Protects the Flooring
Dart mats allow you to protect your flooring. Whether you’re playing on hard flooring or carpet, the floor around the board is likely to become damaged over time by two things: the darts and your feet.
The first one is pretty obvious, but darts are very sharp and can puncture the flooring. This is an issue on both hard and soft floor types and “bounce-outs” (which happen to both pros and newbies!) will wreck the floor if it is left unprotected.
A lot of players don’t consider how often they’ll be walking the same path from the toe line to the dartboard itself to collect their darts. If you have carpeted flooring, this path will become especially worn compared to the rest of the room so sticking a mat on top of it will help keep it looking newer.
Protects the Darts
Many new players understand that darts can easily damage the floor, but many may not yet have experienced the damage that the floor can actually do to the darts as well.
This is more of an issue for steel-tip darts when paired with hard flooring such as tiling, concrete and wood, as the extra weight of steel-tip darts means they fall hard and if they fall at an awkward angle, the tip can become permanently damaged and need replacing. This can exceed the cost of a dart mat especially if you’ve picked up some high quality dart tips!
No Need to Tape the Throw Line
When playing darts, you’ll need to have a toe line to mark where you can stand, this is formally known as the oche. Pretty much every dart mat available will have the oche marked out so you don’t need to use tape to mark it yourself (which tends to look a bit cheap and is prone to rolling up at the edges).
It also means you don’t need to measure it out yourself which can be a bit of pain if you’re a new player. You simply place the mat right underneath the board and it’ll do all the maths for you!
If you’re going to be getting a lot of use out of your dartboard and you’re playing on a harder surface, then using a mat will take some of the strain out of playing. Playing on the mat’s softer and spongier surface will reduce the pressure on your joints and whilst it might not seem like a big deal now, it’ll definitely be worth it in the long run!
Types of Dart Mat
There are 4 main types of dart mat according to the material they are made out of:
Vinyl and rubber dart mats are the most popular and are well suited to any type of flooring including carpet. Felt and foam mats are typically only used for hard floor because they are prone to slipping on carpet flooring.
Rubber mats tend to be the most durable, although vinyl mats also offer good durability. The main complaint people have with rubber mats is the strong smell that they give out particularly when brand new. Some mats have two layers, the bottom layer which touches the floor will usually be rubber, and it may be topped with carpet or felt for added comfort.
It’s important to consider the thickness of the mat as well, as the more expensive mats tend to be thicker offering more protection. For a standard rubber mat, try and look for something at least 2-3mm thick. In terms of the dimensions, most dart mats are around 8-10ft in length and 22-30″ in width.
A good dart mat should be:
- Feel comfortable to stand on
- Large enough to cover the area where the darts may land
- Have a good visible oche
Which Dart Mat is Best?
Here are some of the top dart mats available on the market. They all include a link to Amazon so you are able to check the current price.
Winmau Xtreme Dart Mat
- Very thick (5 mm)
- Stylish design
- Suitable for home and pub use
Viper by GLD
- Strong, protective material
- Separate oches for soft and steel tip playing