February 5, 2006

Alphabet Floor Tiles

alphamat.gifIf you saw the hangdog photo of me in the NY Times today, then you also saw the Alphamat foam floor tiles that we put in the hallway outside the kid's room. Yes, it's a bit of primary color-creep, something we'd been pretty disciplined about, but we thought it was an acceptable solution. It occurs to me that somewhere out there is a die-cut mat in exactly the opposite color combo as this one. And if I could find it, I could re-match the pieces into a less contrasting color scheme. You might want to shop in person for that, though.

The mat's designed to be laid out in a 5x5 square, but we put it into a kind of elongated "L" or truncated "U", I guess, to fit our space. It's not perfect of course, because the edge/corner pieces are set. [Other mats have separate edging.]

My dad got these for the kid for Christmas, and surfiing around now, I see we really lucked out on the typeface as well as the thickness. [I saw a pretty funnylooking serif font somewhere, but I can't find it now.] The Alphamat is 5/8" thick, which feels sturdy. Unless your floor's really smooth, I'd think hard before getting a 3/8" or so mat.

One regret: not buying these Anpan-Man hiragana floor tiles when we were in Japan. [each of the 50 phonetic characters is on an 15cm sq mat. Anpan-Man is an omnipresent TV cartoon character. "An" is bean paste, and "pan" is bread, so he's basically "Bean Paste Donut Man."] You can also get mats in Arabic and Hebrew.

Buy the Alphamat at Kidsstuff.com for $58, or in a two- or three-pack at allmats.com. The Team Products mats at Amazon are thinner and have a blockier typeface, but they're only $25. [07/06 update: Amazon's not currently stocking these, but Toys R Us is.]

[update: AJ at Thingamababy has trod this foam floormat ground, too, and found Ross to be a fine place to dress your floor for less. thanks for the reminder. ]

[update2: wow, someone mentioned how these things buff your hardwood floor to a deadly shine, and they're right. I just picked them up to clean, and the floor is like ice. Be careful.]

15 Comments

We got ours for $12 at (gasp!) Ross.

I hadn't seen these with a combined I and J -- clever for making 5x5, but hard to spell a lot of things that way. "bijou", I guess, and "hijack". And of course "fiji".

For a bigger floor, of course, you can do A-Z + 0-9....

Greg,

Congrats on the NY Times article. I've been a devoted Daddytype since my little girl, Eliza, was born four months ago. Thanks for the good work.

Best,

Blair

Clearly you don't have a cat, 'cause I picked up one of these at a consignment sale and learned that our cat's claws can just trash it TOO fast.
What's up with the link to the hiragana one?

[clearly. I can imagine, though. We also take our shoes off in the house; I can see those things not wearing as well as some other flooring products. And the link's fixed now. Sorry. And here's a bonus link to Google Images of the a-i-u-e-o mat in use. -ed.]

Have you ever looked at similar mats that are made to put in garages? I found these http://www.jnkproducts.com/motormat_flooring.htm and they come in some more subdues colors, but they I don't think they are very soft, maybe soirt of bouncy, but they could be hard on the knees. But it could asll be worth it since they stand up to "heavy loads, flying wrenches, and even the harshest mechanic's language."

[actually, I've been a fan at a distance of Flor DIY carpet/flooring tiles, which let you design, mix-and-match, and be as subdued or as bright as you want. -ed.]

We have these as well, and my dad got them at the San Jose flea market for CHEAP. Now that Lena is trying to stand up, those massive falls she takes dont' really hurt her. or at least we seem to have convinced of that fact: "C'mon, you're okay, shake it off!"

The IJ combo is probably for Dutch, but still that's a mighty sacrifice to make just to get a 5x5 square. We have 26 letters and 10 numbers, which makes a much more even 6 x 6 square.

I am guessing you have wood floors underneath. If you do beware, these tiles make the floor very slippery. We discovered this after we pulled ours up to vaccum. My 13 yr old went to walk across the floor in her socks and landed on her butt.

So I guess that could be a poistive because you can just lay these down for a couple days and never have to wax the floor again.

[we'll move them around the house. like a 25sf floor buffer. -ed.]

Yep CityMama, Ross is the way to go. They sell ultra cheap foam mats. I went with the 2'x2' mats (red-green-blue-yellow) -- four for $12. They are infinitely easier to clean because they have fewer grooves to collect dirt particles (larger mat surface + no inset alphabet letters). Plus, if you buy enough, at Christmas you can make the floor red and green, or at Hanukkah you can make the floor blue and gold (yellow).

Target sells similar mats in the kid's furniture aisle.

Extra bonus at Ross: letters *and* numbers. But for those, I think you pay a hefty $16. They stand up reasonably well to dog traffic, too.

Also can buy them medium blue/black reversible in the larger tile sizes at SAM's making the cost per foot rather cheap.

We actually use them under the little kiddie pool on the porch.

The alphabet mats made me a bit crazy--too many colors on my living room floor. (:
We got 3 sets of these to put on our hardwoods; they are big and thick and really fun to build mod houses out of.

Well, now you've gone and made me feel like a bad father for not covering up the hardwood floors...

We do have a nice (probably too nice for a room for an 18 month old, but it looks so nice in there) rug in the playroom/computer room.. it does take up about 75% of the exposed floor space. That must count for something, no?

I was totally cracking up when I saw that alpha mat under you. I've discovered it's a mainstay of many of my new mom friends' homes and was kind of suprised you had it too. My husband swears we'll never get one but then again, I sort of convinced him to let us keep the Tiny Love Symphony in Motion mobile I sneakily purchased for our 4 month old the other day!

alphabet+letters, $14.99 at Christmas Tree Shops. our 6 mo. old loves to chew on the mat--i took out all the small pieces.

www.wondermat.com has some neutral colors without the letters

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