Cutting mats protect your surface and hold your project in place while you cut. Some cutting mats are better than others and you should always look for the best one for your particular project. After seeing all your options, you may be wondering: what is a self-healing cutting mat?
A self-healing cutting mat is a piece of material used to protect your table while you cut paper or fabric. The mat protects your surface and blade by separating slightly as you cut without leaving behind marks in the material. Self-healing mats are pliable and can last for years if you take care of them.
The gridlines in a self-healing mat also help you measure as you cut. Self-healing mats help you stay especially accurate because they keep your project from sliding. It’s beneficial to know what a self-healing mat is and how to use it, so you can choose the right one for your project.
Keep reading to learn all about self-healing cutting mats. This guide will show you why you need a self-healing cutting mat and the best one to use for your next project.
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What is a self-healing cutting mat?
A self-healing cutting mat is a piece of material that protects your surface when you are cutting material. They are called self-healing because they have the ability to cover old cuts, so you can cut again without getting stuck in previous grooves.
Self-healing mats do more than protect your cutting surface. The mats protect your blade, by keeping them from becoming dull. Some surfaces and mats can slowly dull your knife by scratching against it when you cut.
You need a self-healing mat to keep your blade sharp and make accurate cuts.
Why is it called a self-healing mat?
Mats are called self-healing because as you cut your blade goes in between the material. The mat then springs back into the original position after you are done cutting. It’s as if the mat can separate and “heal” itself by pulling the pieces back together. This leaves the mat smooth and lasting longer, so you can cut again and again.
What is a self-healing cutting mat made of?
Self-healing cutting mats are made of small pieces of plastic and elastic material tightly pressed together. The individual pieces of material can separate and bounce back together when the mat is cut.
The elastic is what gives the mat its healing properties. All mats are not the same, the elastic can be made of different materials including:
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Polyethylene (PE)
- Polypropylene (PP).
This means some mats can work better for you than others. For example, mats made out of PVC and PP or PE react differently when they are exposed to heat.
Are self-healing cutting mats heat resistant?
Self-healing cutting mats are not heat resistant. In fact, they can get damaged in too much heat. The cutting mat will become warped if left in a room that’s too hot or in direct sunlight.
PVC cutting mats can regain their shape if they are damaged by heat. To fix a warped mat, simply reheat by leaving the mat in sunlight or on a hot driveway with a weighted block or board to lay it flat again.
Keep in mind, heating your cutting mat will result in your measurements and gridlines being off. This is because your mat has been stretched and flattened again.
Other materials such as PP or PE can’t be flattened again. PVC is made to be soft and therefore, more pliable at high temperatures. This flexibility allows you to still get some use out of it.
It’s best to keep all your mats away from too much heat, so you won’t need to do any damage control. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a new mat.
Do I need a self-healing cutting mat?
You will need a self-healing cutting mat depending on your project to protect your surface and your blade. Self-healing cutting mats last longer than typical mats, so it’s a good idea to have one. They are helpful for all types of projects because they also help you cut accurately.
Self-healing cutting mats aren’t the only type of mat that you can use. However, they are the best for cutting using rotary knives or utility knives. They also work best for quilting, sewing, and crafts that use fabric. You can even use them with Cricut machines.
In another article, we went over alternative mats you can use. However, some projects still benefit from a store-bought self-healing mat.
Self-healing cutting mat is a way to go when you need an accurate cut. They offer guidelines to help you measure as you cut. Those lines don’t leave behind groves, that your knife will get stuck in if you cut to that size regularly. This is especially important if you are cutting fabric because the mat will also hold the fabric in place as you cut.
Self-healing mats are best for the types of projects that require:
- A rotary knife
- Accurate measuring
- Cutting fabric or quilt squares
- Cutting geometric shapes like triangles
- Continual or yearly projects
A self-healing mat lasts for years if you take care of it properly. So you need one to work on those seasonal projects, so you won’t have to buy a new mat year after year to do the same job.
What is the best self-healing cutting mat?
The best self-healing cutting mat lasts a long time and has great guidelines. Different brands like Fiskars, Alvin, and US Art Supply work great. As long as the mat can hold your project in place, help you measure, and protect your blade it’s the right choice.
Here are some of the best self-healing cutting mats to choose from.
1. The Fiskars Self-Healing Rotating Mat
The Fiskars self-healing mat is a clean mat with guidelines that are easy to read. The mat is small, but that makes it easy to travel with.
- Easy to travel with
- Has a warranty
2. Craft World Professional Rotary Cutting Mat
The Craft World Professional Rotary Cutting Mat is the best for cutting quilt squares and comes in different color options and sizes.
- Variety of colors and sizes blue, green, 9″ x 12”, 12″ x 18″, and 18″ x 24”
3. OLFA Self Healing Rotary Mat
The OLFA mat makers are popular for their self-healing cutting mats. This mat is double-sided, doubling the time and flexibility you have to use this mat.
- Large mat 24” x 36”
- Smooth Surface
- Thinner than other mats on the list 1.5mm thick
4. Alvin GBM Series Professional Self Healing Cutting Mat
Alvin’s double-sided mat is green on one side and black on the other. It comes in three large sizes giving you options. It can get pricey if you need to cover a large surface but could be worth it for the durability.
- Lots of large size options including 18” x 36 and 24” x 36”
- Offers smaller more affordable sizes as well
- Not good for cutting fabric
5. MMG Self Healing Cutting Mat
The MMG mat is easy and a great start for beginner scrapbookers. The mat’s small size gives you a feel of a good mat without the pricey commitment.
- Good size for small paper cutting 5”x5”
- One-sided mat
6. Anezus Self Healing Sewing Mat
The Anezua self-healing mat is an affordable option that will work well for rotary cutting and all kinds of projects. However, the mat is good for getting the right measurements for sewing projects.
- Affordable option
- Good size for most projects 12” x 18”
- Strong smell
7. Artzeza Rotary Cutting Mat
The Artzeza mat is larger in size and comes in black with easy-to-read grid lines. This mat is great if you want precise measurements, but have a hard time with gridlines.
- Easy to read no glare grid
- 3mm thick
- Not great for sewing if you need quarter inches ¼, ⅛ or 1/16
8. US Art Supply 36” x 48” Professional Self-Healing Mat
The Us Art Supply Mat is one of the largest professional self-healing mats on the list. It can cover a large surface and help you continue cutting multiple projects or one large project without moving the mat.
- Large size can cover a large art space
- 5 ply
- Variety of sizes
- Each size comes in a few inches smaller than the listed size 34” x 36”
Summary: What is a self-healing cutting mat?
A self-healing cutting mat is essential for protecting your cutting surface and blades. The mat heals itself when cut to ensure you don’t leave marks behind. This is due to the elastic individual pieces a self-healing mat is made of.
Every time you cut, your blade goes between the material allowing the mat to heal itself and leave no marks behind. With a self-healing mat, you don’t have to worry about inaccurate cutting because your blade won’t get stuck in a groove.
If you want a long-lasting mat that will hold your fabric in place a self-healing mat is a way to go. It’s the best choice for all types of projects to protect your surface.
Choose a mat from our list based on your project and get cutting today.