What’s Outside: A Closer Look at the Vinyl Covering on Zebra Mat

Every Zebra Mat is made from a high-quality open-cell foam encased in a reinforced, closed-cell vinyl covering. This combination provides optimal cushioning and shock absorption for grappling and throws without sacrificing the secure footing needed for stand-up martial arts training. 

We’ve recently taken a look at what’s inside our martial arts mats (see what’s at the core). Today, we’re turning our focus on the exterior vinyl covering that gives Zebra Mats their unique look and feel. 

What’s on the Outside?

The vinyl used on the exterior of Zebra Mats is made of a closed-cell vinyl. Closed cell materials have cells that are contained within their cell walls and are trapping air (think of it as microscopic bubble wrap). The air trapped between them gives the foam a lot more initial firmness than open-cell foam. 

Why Use This Material?

Why is this ideal for the exterior of martial arts mats? While the open-cell foam inside Zebra Mats give them their shock absorption, the closed-cell vinyl on the exterior makes them: 

  • Cleanable: mats are constantly coming into contact with bacteria and other germs. Feet can leave traces of dirt and other outside material on mats and sweat may accumulate into a mineral deposit on the surface. Vinyl can be cleaned over and over again (with approved cleaners) without degrading the material, helping you keep harmful pathogens, such as staphylococcus and ringworm, from contaminating your mats. 
  • Durable: vinyl can take a lot of beatings before beginning to show wear and tear. This means the mats can withstand heavy traffic from bare feet as they slide and move across the mats as well as take on movement from the full body and the heavy fabric of gis. 
  • Waterproof: the covering can handle the basic realities of martial arts training, including keeping sweat, chemicals, and other fluids from penetrating the vinyl. This protects the internal foam core. 
  • Antimicrobial: every Zebra Mat receives an antimicrobial treatment to help prevent the growth of microorganisms. 
  • Anti-slip: the underside of Zebra Mats features a natural anti-skid surface made of rubber for added stability. 

Tatami vs. Smooth 

The vinyl on Zebra Mats can have a smooth or tatami texture, making them ideal for any martial arts practice. What’s the difference between tatami and smooth? In short, our Tatami Textured Mats are specially designed to replicate the natural rice straw texture of traditional Japanese tatami mats, which are known for their comfortable texture that allow for better grip.   

We add our high-quality waterproof vinyl to the mix to create a tatami-textured mat that offers superior grip for stand-up martial arts, reduced mat burn and a strong resistance to mold and humidity. 

Find out how to choose between the two using this guide. 

Multiple Color Options

Zebra Mats come in a wide variety of colors. We can also custom print logos and images directly on to the surface of our mats. The vinyl we use showcases colors brilliantly, and your logo will not fade over the course of the life of your mats! 


Need a sample of our mats? Want to learn more about their covering? Get in touch with the Zebra Sales and Support Team today!