Industry Insider: How to Tell the Difference Between Swamp Mats, Access Mats, and Rig Mats

Do you know the difference between swamp, access, and rig mats? Despite being some of the most in-demand, and certainly the most used terms in the site access solutions industry, you may be surprised to learn that there’s often confusion when it comes to ordering mats for job sites. This confusion stems from the fact that, despite each term referring to a distinct product, they are often used interchangeably; while this may be fine in a day to day conversation, it becomes problematic when placing orders because it can lead to improper quotations and customer confusion.

To help dispel some of the misconceptions and misunderstandings related to access matting products, GFI has compiled a brief overview that covers the difference between each product and how you can ensure you get the fit right for your specific application. Read on to learn more!.

What’s in a Name?

As we mentioned above, the largest source of the confusion where site access products are concerned comes down to terms being used interchangeably without the proper discretion. This is partially because, at present, the industry does not have any regulations as far as the usage of terminology when promoting products. Over time, this has led to rig, access, and swamp maps being used freely when talking about access matting as a whole. The use of each of these terms is somewhat fair as they do all act as a type of access matting, but the reality is, each specific mat category has a distinct design that influences how they perform their intended purpose. Knowing the difference between a rig and a standard access mat, for example, is a huge safety concern on sites where suitable access solutions for heavy-duty equipment like cranes and machinery is necessary, and making the wrong selection not only puts your resources at risk; it could also endanger your crews.

When ordering matting products, you’ll want to be aware of the key distinctions between the following categories:

Access Mats

While access mats can collectively refer to site access solutions as a whole, on a more direct level, a standard access mat is 8′ x 14′ and is bolted together with 3 layers of 2’x 8′ lumber. A standard access mat can be used as a temporary access road, as well as for equipment support and a wide variety of other site access solutions. The traditional standby for access mats used to be bolted products, but in more recent years CLT designs have risen to prominence due to their increased strength and durability. A TerraLam® CLT access mat can be manufactured not only in 3 layers but also in 5 and 7 layers when a stronger access mat is required.

Swamp Mats

Within Canada, the term swamp mat is typically used to refer to access mats above, but in more humid climates where swamp and marsh are prominent such as the southeastern United States, swamp mats may reference matting that is particularly well suited to the specific needs of this kind of terrain.

Rig Mats

Rig mats are best suited for heavy-duty applications such as jobs that require extensive use of cranes and other kinds of heavy machinery. In order to handle the stress caused by such equipment, rig mats are designed with steel frames that allow them to distribute extreme weights safely without fracturing or failing entirely. GFI Solutions now offers a true CLT rig mat that does not have a steel frame. It can be manufactured to any custom size needed and can be manufactured in 5 ply, 7 ply, 9 ply, 11 ply or even 13 ply. This type of TerraLam® CLT rig mat is 50% lighter and can handle the same weights as traditional steel frame rig mats.

How to Choose

Every job is unique, and each job site presents a distinct range of challenges for site access solutions to overcome. From incorporating the versatility of standard CLT access mats to depending on the heavy lifting capabilities of rig mats GFI Solutions is here to help you fit the best fit for your specific needs. As one of Canada’s leading suppliers of CLT access mats and the nation’s exclusive source for Sterling Solutions’ TerraLam® products. With 24/7 sales and service support, you can count on us to have your back. Contact us now to learn more!