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Best placemats for creating a stylish table setting

The right placemats need to be heat-resistant, easy-to-clean, durable and it also helps if they look attractive too. Here are the best placemats for every family and style of home.

By Gemma Lumley | Last updated Nov 22, 2021

Placemats on a dinner table

The placemat is an often overlooked item of homeware but finding the right one could make it the foundation of your dining table set-up. 

Most of us would be happy to spend days or even weeks searching for a gorgeous dining table to become the heart of our home, so it makes no sense to then plonk hot plates down upon that most cherished of surfaces, marking it forever.

The best placemats to look out for are ones that are protective, look lovely and fit in with the aesthetic of your home, are quick to clean after a meal and won’t slide across the table like an air hockey puck. 

Finding dining placemats that are a pleasure to use needn’t be a chore. We’ve checked out the recommendations on our forums and researched authentic consumer reviews to find the perfect solution for your needs. 

Here are the best placemats for your home in 2021. 

1. Best overall placemats: Tendak Felt Placemats and Coasters

Tendak placemats

Price: £16.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Felt is a fantastic, practical fabric for placemats and it surprised us to discover that it can also be an elegant choice if you choose the right ones. We think these stylish yet minimalist mats wouldn’t look out of place at a trendy, expensive restaurant.

These mats are functional too – they soak up spills, can be washed in the sink and resist heat up to 120°C. 

They're a very generous size, offering more than enough space for a plate and cutlery. However, if your dinner table is on the smaller side, it might be better to go for a more compact design. We loved the price point too as they come with matching coasters and some useful little cutlery bags. When used together, the set would look spectacular on a dinner party table. 

Felt is heavily textured but soft, so it is the perfect fabric to prevent plates from slipping across a glossy table and scratching the surface. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 44 x 32cm
  • Material: Felt
  • Number in set: Six

2. Best budget placemats: Aonewoe Grey Vinyl Placemats and Coasters

Aonewoe placemats

Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“We have these and I am happy with them, they don't seem to stain and are easy to wipe clean." -  sleepismysuperpower1

At just under £10, this attractive set of six placemats and matching coasters is fantastic value. They have hundreds of five-star ratings, and users love these bargain placemats for their washability. They can be soaked and scrubbed and are even suitable for the dishwasher. This ease of washing makes them an excellent choice for families with messy children or for outdoor use. 

Vinyl is a strong material and can withstand lots of wear and tear so these mats will last a long time. They are heat-resistant too, though the holes in the weave would suggest that a super hot casserole dish or sizzling plate may demand an extra layer of protection. 

Style is important, even when you’re on a budget, and these mats would look good on many different tables. The metallic sheen is a nice touch, and the two pretty shades of grey add texture to these placemats.

Key specs 

  • Size: 45cm x 30cm
  • Material: Polyvinyl chloride (Vinyl)
  • Number in set: Six

3. Best rustic placemats: Davicher Natural Seagrass Placemats

Davicher placemats

Price: £17.99 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a set of placemats with a rustic feel, these are perfect. They would also suit a kitchen with a seaside or cosy cottage theme, thanks to the weave pattern and rich shades of gold and brown. 

These mats have been handcrafted from natural seagrass, a hard-wearing material that will last for years. Seagrass is also very heat resistant, and while these mats are not particularly thick, they will be adequate protection for your table from hot plates. 

It’s also worth noting that they can’t be immersed in water, but they can be wiped with a damp cloth and left to air dry. 

If you’re trying to avoid unnecessary plastic, these mats are the best choice as they are made from sustainable materials and are entirely non-toxic. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 43 x 30cm
  • Material: Seagrass
  • Number in set: Four

4. Best fabric placemats: IKEA MÄRIT Cotton Placemats

IKEA placemats

Price: £1.50 (per mat) | Buy now from IKEA 

“We have cheapy cloth ones from IKEA which wash and iron well.”wowfudge

Machine washable placemats are ideal for young families. There’s no endless post-meal wiping of food; you can chuck them in a quick wash and leave them to dry overnight. The lighter colours are remarkably resistant to stains too, with one happy customer left delighted that red and oily pasta sauce washed out so quickly. 

Our tip is to buy another complete set of these mats so you can wash and wear them. It’s also a big positive that you can buy as many as your family needs rather than having to stick to a standard set size. 

The MÄRIT mat is made from ethically produced cotton and recycled polyester, with a colour palette of practical neutrals. Woven cotton will protect your table from scratches and warm plates, but we wouldn’t recommend using them for hot serving dishes. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 35 x 45cm
  • Material: Cotton
  • Number in set: One

5. Best stylish placemats: Pimpernel Vintage Placemats and Coasters

Pimpernel placemats

Price: £21.82 | Buy now from Amazon

“I have some placemats that are still going strong after nearly 30 years. They were made by Pimpernel who are still making them today” - Cantspell2

Pimpernel has been making hardboard placemats and coasters since the mid-1930s. The founder, Will George, dreamt up the business after looking for a use for durable and heat-resistant plywood off-cuts. The placemats are still made virtually the same way as they were at the start — hardboard lined with cork and the recognisable green baize. The surface is then coated with tough cellulose for extra resilience. 

Thanks to the layers of robust materials, these mats are heat-resistant up to 110°C, making the level of defence perfect for even the most delicate of surfaces. They can be wiped clean with a cloth but avoid using too much water as the design can lift.  

In comparison to other placemats on our list, this style is expensive. However, we felt that the quality and choice of gorgeous vintage designs (including an edition featuring William Morris’ ‘Strawberry Thief’) made them worth the money. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 30.5cm x 23cm
  • Material: Wood and cork
  • Number in set: Six

6. Best place mats for heat protection: Maison & White Natural Slate Placemats and Coasters

Maison & White slate placemats

Price: £16.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I've just bought some slate ones, timeless and should last forever as long as I don't drop them!”  - SPARKLYSTARSHINESBRIGHT

Thanks to its insulating properties, slate makes the best heat-resistant placemats. The generous depth of each mat also makes them even more fantastic for protecting your table. 

Natural slate will look stylish in both a traditional or modern home. The colour is a rich dark grey and, while the edges are a little rough, we think that adds to the character of them and the tiny anti-slip feet will protect your table from being scratched. 

The size of these mats is perfect for a single dinner plate but not a whole place setting. However, this petite size does mean that they can be used as elegant cheese and nibbles platters at a dinner party and would work well on a small dining table. 

The one negative is that the attractive matte surface is easy to mark with oily foods. Other messes can be easily wiped away with a wet cloth. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 20cm x 30cm
  • Material: Slate
  • Number in set: Four mats and four coasters. Sets including six or eight placemats are also available

7. Best placemat for toddlers and babies: SILIVO Elephant Non-Slip Placemat

Elephant babies placemat

Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“When DC were smaller they had those large plastic wipe clean mats each.”AspieHere

This elephant-shaped placemat is adorable and comes in three fun colours. The sections are great for baby-led weaning, and it’s the best baby placemat for picky eaters who don’t like their sweetcorn and peas mixed. 

Crafted from food-safe, BPS-free silicone, it’s wipeable, washable and will even go in the dishwasher. It is also resistant to being stained by high-coloured food such as tomatoes and carrots. 

Suction cups underneath the mat will cling to the table without leaving marks, but if it does move, that’s ok; this cute little elephant is incredibly strong and flexible, so it won’t shatter if thrown by a cheeky toddler. 

This silicone mat is lightweight and will fold up into a changing bag — the perfect solution for eating with a toddler away from home. 

Key specs 

  • Size: ‎26 x 20 x 3cm
  • Material: Silicone
  • Number in set: One

8. Best placemats for families: Wrendale Zoological Placemats

Wrendale placemats

Price: £23.95 | Buy now from Amazon

The Wrendale artwork on these placemats is gorgeous. The animals they depict have lots of personality, and we can imagine members of a family assigning themselves their favourite creature. 

Cleaning the surface after a messy meal is simple. Just wipe clean with a damp cloth and gentle anti-bacterial spray. Avoid saturating the mats though as this might lead to the picture lifting. 

Protecting your dining table is easy with these robust anti-slip and scratch mats – backed with insulating cork, they are heat-resistant to 110°C.

Each mat will fit a single plate, which would also suit a smaller table or breakfast bar. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 30.5 x 23cm
  • Material: Cork 
  • Number in set: Six

9. Best wipeable placemats: BaoWnylz PU Leather Placemats and Coasters

PU placemats

Price: £16.99 | Buy now from Amazon

The design of these placemats means that they are hygienic and easy to clean. There are no tiny gaps for food to get stuck in, and they can be wiped vigorously with water without having to worry about a difficult-to-dry material or removing a design. 

Heat-proofing your table is simple with these mats too as they are resistant of heat up to 80°C and can be used as protection from dinner plates and serving dishes. 

Sophisticated and practical, there’s a choice of light grey, coal-black and a calming blue, colours that will suit most home styles. We think they would also be ideal for use when working from home. The mats are the same size as a generic laptop so that they will protect your table from the heat of the battery. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 45 x 30cm
  • Material: PU leather
  • Number in set: Four

10. Best cork placemats: Apollo Cork Placemats and Coasters

Apollo placemats

Price: £7.99 | Buy now from Amazon

If you agree with some Mumsnet users who think that placemats are naff but need protection for your beautiful new mahogany dining table, then these cheap and basic cork mats are just the thing. 

We loved the no-nonsense nature of this product. They protect from hot plates, won’t scratch and can then be wiped clean with a wet cloth and stashed back in a drawer. 

Despite their simplicity, we do think these placemats have a rustic charm. They would look perfect in a country kitchen and are a lovely, textured shade of warm brown. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 28 x 20.5cm
  • Material: Cork
  • Number in set: Four mats

11. Best wooden placemats: Maison & White Circular Bamboo Placemats and Coasters

Maison & White bamboo placemats

Price: £13.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Wood is a beautiful, natural material, but it can be expensive. Bamboo is an excellent option if you’re on a budget. It’s cheaper than other hardwoods and is both environmentally friendly and sustainable. 

The glossy texture of these mats gives them a retro feel but we think they would suit a modern home, just as well as a countryside kitchen. 

These mats are heat resistant and have a smooth surface so they will protect your table from piping hot plates, warm drinks and scratches. They are also effortless to clean with a damp cloth, and there are no dips or holes for bacteria to get into – great news if you have messy kids. 

Some consumer reviews suggested that the size is too small. However, looking closely at the dimensions, we believe they will hold a good-sized dinner plate and are just the thing for a small table. If you are unhappy with the size though, they are covered by an impressive two-year guarantee. 

Key specs 

  • Size: 25cm diameter
  • Material: Bamboo
  • Number in set: Four

How to choose the best placemats 

You should never have to sacrifice on style over substance when it comes to your table setting. Here are a few things to look out for when buying a new placemat.

Heat protection: Cork, slate, felt, and wood are excellent natural options, while silicone and vinyl are manufactured alternatives. Look for placemats that will insulate at 100°C and above for the best defence against the heat. 

Scratch and slip-proof: Rubber anti-slip feet on the underside of smooth surfaces such as wood will prevent accidental gouges in your table or slippy plates. Textured fabric such as felt won’t budge, whereas plastic mats are naturally very slightly tacky at room temperature, so they will also stay in place. 

Ease of cleaning: Most placemats that define themselves as 'washable' will be safe for hand washing rather than dishwasher safe. If you're going for a wipeable mat, a quick go over with a hot cloth and some anti-bacterial spray after a meal is the easiest way to keep your mats clean and hygienic. However, avoid overloading coated mats with too much water and never immerse them as the top layer is likely to bubble and peel. Materials such as felt and cork will soak up water, so it’s best to spot clean these with a damp cloth. 

Do I need placemats for my table? 

If you wish to protect the surface of your dining table from heat, scratches and mess, then yes, you do need placemats. This need is especially true if you have a young family – we all know how far food can travel when excited children dig into a yummy tea. 

Larger table cloths are also an easy way to add a theme or a touch of style to the dining experience.

What’s the best material for placemats? 

If you think you want to machine wash your placemats, then either cotton or polyester is the best option. They can be popped in on a quick wash and then laid out flat, so they dry quickly without needing to be ironed. 

Natural, hard materials such as slate and cork, and thick, woven fabrics like felt are all great insulators, so pick these if your dining table is prone to marking. 

Should I use round or rectangle placemats?

Designing your home is very personal, so there is no right or wrong answer to this. However, the general rule is to have the same shape of a placemat as your dining table. This coordination will add symmetry and be more soothing to the eye.

What are the best placemats?

We chose the on-trend Tendak Felt Placemats as our best buy because we thought they ticked all the crucial boxes, and the vast number of delighted reviewers also helped us make our decision. 

Felt is an underused material for placemats. It has very high heat resistance, will keep your plates warm, feels soft so it won’t scratch and can be hand-washed easily. The only issue is that the thick fabric can take a while to dry.

How we chose our recommendations

We researched the levels of heat resistance, style and practicality of each type of placemat to ensure all our suggestions will make your life easier and enhance the look of your home.  

We also consulted independent review sites for product opinions to ensure we were bringing you an honest summary of the best placemats for families in 2021.

Why you should trust us

We strive to provide honest and independent advice you can trust, and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find amazing products that real parents love.

Transparency is vital to us, and that's why we're always honest about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their friends and family.

Lead image: Tendak felt placemats on Amazon