What is “Polycarbonate” and Why is My Office Chair Mat Made From it?

What is “Polycarbonate” and Why is My Office Chair Mat Made From it?

Polycarbonate is a type of thermoplastic found in a variety of products. It’s so common that you probably come across it multiple times a day – cotton may be the fabric of our lives, but polycarbonate is the polymer. And the reason for this has to do with polycarbonate’s moldability.

Polycarbonates are strong and tough, but they’re easily transformed and pliable when introduced to heat. They’re also shatter-proof, clear, and light-weight. These properties make them a popular choice in engineering and other industries. According to, this polymer can be found in a myriad of everyday products, everything from the lenses of eyeglasses to bike helmets; from personal safety equipment to bullet-resistant windows found on armored cars.

Of course, polycarbonate is also found in office chair mats. But it’s not the ideal material for this application. Plainly put, it can’t surpass glass. And here are the reasons why:

Polycarbonate is not good for the environment

When compared to other types of plastics, polycarbonate is more environmentally friendly (it’s recyclable, for one thing). But it’s still not great, overall. According to Environmental Health News, chemicals added to plastics (including polycarbonate) may harm human health and the manufacturing of plastic depletes oil reserves. Plastic buried in landfills can leach chemicals into the groundwater, and when disposed of in the ocean, it disrupts marine habitats.

Plastics aren’t odorless

Plastic might be fantastic, but often it also emits a not-so-pleasant odor. Polycarbonate doesn’t emit an odor as strong as vinyl, but it can emit an order nonetheless. Glass, on the other hand, doesn’t smell and is extremely easy to clean.

Polycarbonate is longer lasting than vinyl, but…

Polycarbonate office chair mats are longer lasting than mats made from other types of plastic. However, this is only true when they’re used on hard surfaces (wood floors or low-pile carpet). Using them on high-pile carpet or other giving surfaces can cause cracking. Glass, on the other hand, is installed, providing a sturdier base. The reason it works on several types of carpet is because it settles into the ground and adapts to the flex.

Polycarbonate isn’t as visually appealing as glass

Many mats are clear, allowing whatever’s below them to show. But polycarbonate office mats aren’t as transparent as glass. Glass does a better job at blending in with the room, ultimately providing more aesthetic appeal.

Polycarbonate is all around us – it’s in lights and knives and medical devices. And it’s in the offices of many people hoping to protect their floors from scruffs and scrapes. Still, it’s not as high quality as glass; if you’re looking for a product that lasts, pass on plastic for something that offers your floors protection, roll after roll. 

Vitrazza Logo over a photo of a Glass Chair Mat on gray carpet with a guitar in the background

Vitrazza is the leader in Glass Office Chair Mats. Our products provide style, durability, and ergonomic comfort that no plastic – polycarbonate or otherwise – can touch. Vitrazza stocks 18 popular Glass Office Chair Mat sizes and we create custom designs based on your ideas. To learn more, please visit us at