A cutting mat is a mat that you use for arts and crafts. It serves to protect your desk or table from scratches while you use sharp objects to come up with all sorts of creative projects. The best cutting mat is one that can cover the entirety of your work surface. So, what sizes do cutting mats come in?
Cutting mats typically range from 9 × 12 inches to 24 × 36 inches, with larger mats being more popular.
In this guide, I’ll speak in more detail about what sizes they come in, what they’re made of, and why you should get a cutting mat for your DIY workspace.
What Are Cutting Mats?
If you’ve ever used a cutting board in the kitchen before, then you should have a basic understanding of what a cutting mat is.
A cutting mat is simply a mat that you place on top of a desk or table. It protects the surface from scratches and punctures while you create wonderful works of art. Those who sew, mold statues, sketch, paint, or build models would certainly benefit from a cutting mad.
In addition, cutting mats come with vertical and horizontal guidelines. By aligning a material to the lines, you can ensure that everything you cut, snip, or draw will be perfectly straight.
There are also rulers on the sides of the cutting mat to help you measure carefully. Some cutting mats have bias guidelines that travel at 30°, 45°, and 60° along the surface of the cutting mat to help users plan and cut triangular shapes.
What Sizes Do Cutting Mats Come in?
When taking a look at cutting mats online, you’ll typically find that they come in 5 distinct sizes—XL, A1, A2, A3, and A4, with slight margins on every side.
The chart below will describe the workspace and overall dimensions of all 4 cutting mat sizes.
|Cutting Mat Size||Workspace Dimensions||Overall Dimensions|
|A0||35-1/2 × 47-1/2 in.||36 × 48 in.|
|A1||33-1/8 × 23-3/8 in.||36 × 24 in.|
|A2||23-3/8 × 16-1/2 in.||24 × 18 in.|
|A3||16-1/2 × 11-34 in.||18 × 12 in.|
|A4||11-3/4 × 8-1/4 in.||12 × 9 in.|
What Are Cutting Mats Made of?
Cutting mats can be made of a variety of materials, including rubber, vinyl, and glass. However, the most common material that goes into cutting mats is polypropylene, which is durable yet flexible.
Hard cutting mats—i.e., those made of glass—have a significantly smoother surface than flexible mats. They’re perfect for drawing and using utility knives to cut and shape sheets of paper, cardboard, or cardstock. However, if it cracks, you will have to replace it with a new cutting mat.
Soft cutting mats, or those made of rubber, vinyl, and polypropylene, are much thinner than glass mats. They typically measure ¼ of an inch in thickness, and they don’t slide around. However, if you cut too deep into the mat, you might separate it into 2 pieces, and you’ll have to get a new mat for your workspace.
Between the 2 types of cutting mats, only you can determine which mat is better for your DIY station. If you need a surface for cutting, glass might be the better material. However, if you’re extra-careful when handling scissors and blades, you should get by with a less-expensive soft-surface mat.
What Is a Self-Healing Cutting Mat?
There’s another type of cutting mat that definitely deserves recognition—self-healing cutting mats.
This type of mat is constructed from multiple layers of PVC. As a blade penetrates the surface of the mat, the PVC will quickly compress back together, keeping the mat in one solid piece. In a way, this mat “absorbs” the cut rather than splitting into separate pieces.
However, self-healing cutting mats aren’t invincible. If you continue to slice into the same portion of the mat, you’ll notice that the gash will grow deeper and deeper. If it gets too deep, the PVC will not compress, leaving visible, permanent gashes on the mat’s surface.
Do I Need a Cutting Mat?
If you’re a huge fan of sewing, quilting, knitting, molding, painting, or any arts-and-crafts project in general, you could definitely find value in a cutting mat.
A cutting mat’s sole purpose is to prevent your stationery and sharp tools from leaving permanent damage on the surface of your desk or table. With the right cutting mat, you can even leave a few pins and needles poked into the mat’s surface so that it’s always an arm’s length away.
For those that are into designing buildings for fun or professionally, you might also find some benefit from the guidelines since they can assist you in keeping your lines and cuts straight.
Can Cutting Mats Melt?
Yes, they can, which is why you should never leave an iron or soldering iron on the surface of the mat for too long. Even a self-healing cutting mat won’t be able to replace melted material, which could develop into deep holes or annoying bumps on the mat’s surface.
How Do I Keep a Cutting Mat from Breaking?
Here are the following ways you can stop yourself from causing irreparable damage to your cutting mat:
- Keep all heat sources away from the mat
- Never roll the mat up
- Rotate the mat whenever you need to use a utility blade
- Wipe the mat with a slightly moistened microfiber cloth and use dish soap sparingly.
Regardless of how careful you are when using your cutting mat, it will eventually wear out. One clear-cut sign that your cutting mat is nearing the end of its life is that the guidelines will have faded completely. Another sign is that the surface of the cutting mat doesn’t compress and fix itself when cutting into its surface.
Based on personal experience, a cutting mat can last anywhere from 3 to 18 months, depending on what you use it for. However, others have noted that they continue to use their cutting mat even after the 2-year mark.