Its All About the Foam!
When buying a play mat you might hear the terms PVC, EVA and PU or versions of these abbreviations, but what does this actually mean?
To the consumers three senses and the pocket it is obvious.
All quite similar, maybe some different texture indentations along its surface. XPE generally had a gloss finish where as PVC and PU are generally a matte finish.
PVC - heavy, soft memory foam like core
PU - mid weight, soft memory foam like core
XPE - feather light yet a hard dense foam, very little give.
PVC - strong smell on opening and takes some weeks to dissolve
PU - no smell
XPE - no smell
PVC - $$$
PU - $$
XPE - $
For those who dig a little deeper into their play mat research the differences beyond these obvious consumer comparisons become quite a big deal and the reason why we chose to manufacture our brand and designs using PU foams. There certainly is a place on the market for other foam play mats, perhaps those on a budget or those whom need a heavy duty, high traffic play mat. We have highlighted a few other key points, good and bad below.
You need to pick a play mat that suits you and your family so education is the key!
** please note this is a generic comparison of the foams and further research into particular brands is recommended.
PVC - will not break down contains plastic, becomes landfill
PU - Biodegradable foam that will decompose, a healthier choice for our environment
PVC - Extremely Heavy duty, takes considerable force to damage
PU - Durable and scratch resistant, can puncture with sharp objects
XPE - Very easily scratched, snapped or torn
** most companies will/should be transparent with an EN-71 rating. This is a break down of the substances within their product and a tick of approval from international toy standards. It is important to note, that ALL the mentioned foams are tested and certified as ‘non-toxic’. You should thoroughly do your research and enquire about chemical ratings and contents.
PU - free from nasties such as lead, PVC and VOC’s. Free from colour enhancers, UV protectants and colour stabilisers. Free from fire retardant. A healthier choice for our families.