Protect carpeted dining area from spills

This is the best group I could find to post my question. ....... I'm trying to help my daughter. She lives in an apartment with a carpeted dining area, and she has 2 little kids. Not good for the carpet!
We considered a 'chair mat', which is a piece of thick (up to 1/2") vinyl that rolls out under the table and chairs. We'd need a 5'x8' mat to cover the entire dining area. These mats are typically sold for office floor applications over carpet or hardwood.
Do you have any experience with a chair mat over carpet? What would you recommend?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Tom
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On 10/19/2010 6:04 PM, Bionic wrote:

I would be inclined to get some inexpensive indoor/outdoor carpet to protect the area under the children's chairs....low pile, and can be tacked down with upholstery needle/thread. Limit the children's eating/drinking to only those places...probably won't like it, but will abide if enforced. Milk and banana are the worst foods, IIRC, from my children's toddler days. Could even confine drinks to kitchen only, and make a game of it. If the children run around with sippy cups and snacks, then get ready to pay the damage deposit.
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On 10/19/2010 6:04 PM, Bionic wrote:

Make an 'area rug' out of snap-together laminate flooring from local discount building supply place, and trim edges with something so it isn't a trip hazard. A piece that small, you could snap together in living room or parking lot, flip upside down to tape the seams to make it leakproof, and then flip it upright and drag into place. Any moisture that makes it under anything solid over carpet, runs risk of a Big Black Spot being there when the solid thing is moved on move-out day. BTDT.
Or just do what another poster said, and get a bigass sheet of thick masonite and put it down. (that is what chair glides were made of back in stone age, and they held up well.) You'll want the high-density kind. They used to sell it with scratch-resistant colored top layer, but I haven't seen that in years. But even the dark reddish-brown won't even draw a batted eye from anyone with small kids- they will understand immediately. Little kids are like puppies- you gotta do what you gotta do when they are small.
If she is there over 2-3 years, landlord is gonna recarpet as a matter of course anyway, and replacing apartment-grade carpet counts as fair wear and tear to a good landlord, so deposit shouldn't be at too much risk. Now if this apartment is in a house, things may be different.
I'd recommend against the clear plastic mats, even the ones with carpet spikes on backside. They will make the chairs and table wobbly for squirming kids, so any glass too close to edge is likely to tumble.
--
aem sends...

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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/Protect-carpeted-dining-area-from-spills-589698-.htm Nestor Kelebay wrote: Bionic: "This is the best group I could find to post my question."
I'm actually a little surprised by that remark.
"She lives in an apartment with a carpeted dining area, and she has 2 little kids. Not good for the carpet!"
Not if the person who specified the carpeting knew enough about carpeting to be doing that job competently.
I fully expect that dining room carpet is probably an Olefin carpet or a solution dyed nylon carpet. Nowadays carpet is made from three kinds of synthetic fibers (nylon, polyester and olefin) and one natural fiber (wool).
Olefin carpet is unique in that Olefin plastic cannot be dyed by conventional methods as Olefin fibers don't have polar sites on the surface of the fiber that dye moleules are attracted to. As a result, dye simply won't stick to Olefin fibers.
In order to give Olefin fibers colour, they use a technique called "solution dying", which is basically adding tiny coloured particles (called "pigments") to the molten Olefin plastic before drawing it into a fiber. The resulting Olefin fiber has colour because it has coloured particles encased inside it very much like the raisins in raisin bread.
Because Olefin plastic is non-polar, it is the most water resistant carpet made, and by that very nature also the most resistant to water based stains.
And, because the coloured pigments in Olefin carpet fibers are encased in Olefin plastic (which is very similar to polypropylene), you can use bleach straight out of the jug on a 100% Olefin carpet without harming the carpet. This allows a person to use bleach to remove otherwise impossible stains from an Olefin carpet without harming the carpet colour.
DuPont has spent a king's ransom trying to make their Antron IV nylon more stain resistant. Within the past 10 years, other companies have leap frogged DuPont by making carpet out of solution dyed nylon fiber. Since nylon is the strongest fiber with which carpets are made, nylon carpets are the longest wearing carpets. By making that nylon carpet out of solution dyed nylon, you also have a carpet that you can use bleach on to remove stains without harming the carpet. This results in a very durable carpet that you can get virtually any stain out of quickly and easily with bleach (without harming the carpet).
So, if whomever ordered that carpet knew enough about carpets to be doing his job competently, then that's either an Olefin or solution dyed nylon carpet in your daughter's dining room, and you may be worried unnecessarily.
I own a small apartment block, and so it's in my own best interest to keep abreast of technology. However, the vast majority of landlords don't, and it's very possible that whomever ordered the carpet really didn't know what you do now, and spilling anything on that carpet could stain it.
I'm wondering if the best solution wouldn't be to buy a 5 X 8 piece of inexpensive Olefin carpet, a 5X8 piece of 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting, and install them in your daughter's dining room to protect the existing carpet.
------------------------------------- ..in solidarity with the movement for change in Iran.
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I'd like to thank each of you for your thoughtful ideas. I even got a lesson in carpet technology! Didn't know that stuff. All your ideas are going into my 'let me think about that' hopper.
..........Regarding the idea to use laminate flooring, I posed that idea to a guy in the flooring department at Lowes. He didn't like it. .. I'm wondering if putting a piece of masonite under interlocked laminate panels might help it stay firmly together.
We need to do something soon, so I'm going to continue to solicit the opinions of all readers. In the end I'm confident that we'll end up with something better than the current situation and each of you will be toasted at that table. Thanks to all. Tom
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