When you are looking to purchase or rent timber mats, you often have the choice of using new or used mats. Timber mats are graded according to standards set by the National Hardwood Lumber Association. Since the NHLA’s formation in 1897, a committee of experienced lumbermen has monitored lumber standards carefully and responsibly. Standards can change as a result of resource availability, but modifications are minimal. Before you make your final purchase, take note of the grade of your timber mat to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
You will notice timber is graded on a letter scale with usable mats being grade A, B, or C. Grade Certification is given by licensed graders that have gone through extensive lumber assessment training. A lot of consideration is put into timber mats, including the type of hardwood used, coloration, quality of bolts, and overall standard of construction. Below is an overview of the grading scale.
Visually, Grade A mats look like new mats. The timbers are still square and in excellent condition and all the mat bolts are in place and fully intact. Mats must have all bolts and timbers fully intact. Mats are less than 9 months old. Very minimal wear, no chunks out of timbers missing.
Essentially, Grade B mats are less pretty versions of Grade A mats. They have no structural faults; they just look a bit worn. Edges of timbers are still square and timbers are also sound and free of rot. If one or two of the bolts are bent, they qualify as Grade B mats. These mats might also be stained, but the discoloration is not enough to affect the durability of the mat. Typically 10-18 months of age/usage makes the mat fall into a B grade.
Grade C mats are not quite up to the challenges that Grade A and B mats can handle, but they still have life left in them. Grade C Mats can have a missing or pulled rod on one end of the mat. The mat still has structural integrity inside 2’ from each end though. Timbers mat be broken within 2’ of either end but no timbers are broke inside of the 2’ of each end. No hanging timbers allowed in C grade mats.
As you can imagine, these are not going to be the picture perfect image of timber mats. They might be missing numerous bolts, incurred excessive repairs, or be slightly varied in shape. Grade C mats are less expensive, but they also have a shorter life expectancy.