If you feel overwhelmed with all of the differences between Cricut mats, what materials you should use with each one of them, and how to clean and care for them, you are in the right place.
I felt so confused when I first got my Cricut.
The purpose of this article is to help you avoid the same doubts I had about the Cricut mats and provide you with the right knowledge about them. If you read this article, you will be a PRO!
Before we go deep, let’s learn what a Cricut mat is and which ones are available.
A “Cricut Mat” is the surface where you cut all of your projects. Right now, there are four different types of mats, Light Grip (blue), Standard Grip (green), Strong Grip (purple), and Fabric (pink).
Depending on the materials that you are working with, you will need a different mat.
If you don’t use the correct mat for your project, you risk running your materials and then have a tough time removing them from the mat.
Note: If you are still deciding what Cricut machine you should buy, make sure you read this article. It’s the most helpful and complete guide you will ever find on the web if you want to learn the most frequent questions new Cricutters have.
Everything you Need to Know about Cricut Mats
As I mentioned before, the “Cricut Mat” is the surface where you lay and cut all of your projects.
I always wondered if I needed a mat for all of my projects.
Well, the answer to that is yes, you will always need to use a mat for every single project; this is because every material you cut needs to be stabilized on a surface; otherwise, it would shift, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
Cricut Mat Anatomy
Before I got a Cricut, I was always so curious about why you needed different mats, and how hard it has to get a project out of the surface.
I seriously couldn’t understand it. If you feel like I did and have no idea how a mat feels well, this is a cool thing for you to know.
Cricut mats are sticky, and the level of stickiness dictates how secure the grip is. The stronger the grip, the heavier the material (like chipboard or thick card stock) you can cut, and the lighter the grip the thin or lightweight materials (like regular paper and vinyl), you can cut.
Mats are flexible, and this very useful because you can bend it to get out projects that are hard to remove otherwise.
Protective cover: A new Cricut mat will always have a transparent cover that protects the surface of the mat. I add this as part of the mat (you don’t use this cover for any of the projects) because if you toss it, then your mat will be exposed to dust and other elements.
Outer Mat: This part of the mat doesn’t have any grip (or stickiness), and you’ll also find the name of the mat you are working with and the measurements both in cm and inches.
I like that Cricut takes into consideration these two measurements; I am actually from Colombia, and we use the metric system. (But I am getting used to inches now)
Inner Mat: The inner part of the mat is the sticky part, and it’s where you lay your projects before you cut them.
The inner part of the mat is divided by 1x1in squares; this is quite handy because when you are going to cut something, you can visually know where your material is located at all times.
What are the differences between Cricut Mats?
Depending on the materials you want to work with, you will need a different type of mat.
You need to memorize, or at least have an idea of which mat you should use because Cricut Design Space will not specify you which mat you need to use for different types of materials (It will tell you what blade to use though).
With that said, it’s always a good idea to have them all on hand, so you can cut anything that your heart desires!
Ready to learn the differences?
Light Grip -- Blue Mat
This mat was designed to cut lightweight materials.
If you place a thin material on a stronger grip mat, it will be pretty much impossible for you to remove that material from the mat.
The most common materials you can cut with the LightGrip mat are:
- Normal paper
- Thin cardstock
- Construction paper
- Regular vinyl
StandardGrip -- Green Mat
The StandardGrip mat is the most common and affordable one, and it’s designed to work with medium-weight materials.
It usually comes with the purchase of any Cricut Machine (Make sure to check out the product description though), and it’s green.
For now, this the mat I have used so far. I think it is because I am focusing more on paper and vinyl. Once I master these materials, I plan on using thicker materials.
The most common materials you can cut with the StandardGrip or Green mat are:
- HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl)
- Permanent or removable vinyl
StrongGrip -- Purple Mat
This mat was designed to hold heavy materials in place.
Sometimes, when you are using a heavy material like balsa basswood, the grip strength is not enough. In those cases, use painters tape to secure the material to the mat.
The most common materials you can cut with the StrongGrip mat are:
- Thick and glitter cardstock
- Balsa and basswood
FabricGrip -- Pink Mat
The Pink mat the newest mat, and it came out with the release of the Cricut Maker.
The FabricGrip mat is specifically designed to cut fabric. Bonded with any of the Cricut explore Family machines or just on its own with the Rotary blade and the Cricut Maker.
Although I own this mat, I haven’t been able to test it. However, while I was researching to put together this post, I learned that this is the mat that requires the most care and gets dirty the easier!
The most common materials you can cut with the Strong Grip Mat are:
- Bonded fabric (Explore family machine)
- Any type of fabric with the rotary blade and Cricut Maker
What are the ideal projects for different mat sizes?
All of the Cricut mats come in two different sizes, 12 x 12 and 12 x 24 inches.
I have the 12 x 12 inches mats because the projects I am creating right now fit perfectly in this size.
If you are planning to cut the same design multiple times or make something that is bigger than 12 x 12 inches, then you should get the 12 x 24 inches mat size.
Let’s say you got the Cricut maker because wood and Fabric are your jam. With the 12 x 24 inches mats, you can cut bigger sizes of wood to decorate your home. The same applies to fabric; you could cut big pieces of Fabric and later sew a throw pillow cover.
Your imagination is the limit!
Where can I buy Cricut Mats?
I am pretty sure that every craft store has them on hand. However, I always buy these products online so I can compare prices.
Plus I am quite busy and going to the store is not an option for me.
When I first got my Cricut, I bought this pack on amazon because It had all four mats. Check out the prices here.
It’s always a good idea to check out the Official Cricut website. They have everything and sometimes outstanding deals.
How to care for and clean my Cricut mat?
Taking good care of your mat is very important to ensure that your cuts are always nice and smooth.
By showing your mats some extra love, you will extender their life and save money in the long run
Here are some of the best ways you can accomplish that:
Cover it after every use
Don’t ever throw away your protective cover, If you do, you will expose your mat to tons of dust and debris, and this will result in making your mat less sticky over time.
Every time you are done with the cutting and removing process, cover and put it away.
Use Cricut Mats with the right materials
Every mat is designed to be used with different materials. If you mess this up, you will have a tough time to remove them.
For instance, if you place light materials on the purple mat, you will have a tough time trying to get out that material, and this will add extra wear and tear to your mat.
The same applies to the way yo remove things from the mat. Be careful and try to remove elements with care and be patient. My mat ended up with a scratch the first time I tried to remove something from it.
I didn’t know better :/
Clean your mats often:
With time your mat will lose its grip; sometimes, there are built-up materials on it, and sometimes it’s just time for you to replace it.
Before you get a new mat, try to clean it. Here are three different ways you can clean them.
Light, Strong and Standard Grip
1. Use the Scraper: After each use, use the scraper to remove pieces of paper.
2. Lint Roller: use a lint roller to get little bits of materials left on the mat. This tip works great when you need to remove Fabric!
3. Non-alcohol baby wipes: For just a quick clean, you can always use some baby wipes; this works like a charm if your mat has just a little dirt.
4. Soapy water: For deep cleaning, you can always use a washcloth with soapy water. Make sure you use lukewarm or cold water because hot water can mess up your mat’s grip.
My favorite is to soak up a washcloth in soapy water and then place it on top of the mat for a few minutes to kind of let the dirt soften. Then, scrub very gently, let air dry and cover. Easy peasy.
If your cleaning involves water and your mat is wet, make sure to let the mat air dry. I know you’re going to be tempted to use it. But the wetness can’t not only ruin your materials but also damage your machine.
The Pink Mat is very peculiar, and it requires a different type of care than the other mats!
Here are some of the best practices for cleaning and caring for the Cricut Fabric Mat
- Don’t use the Scraper: Don’t use the scraper because the adhesive of this mat is just right to hold fabrics, and it’s quite light; therefore, the scraper will peel off the grip.
- Use the lint roller to get rid of some of the Fabric left on your mat.
- Use transfer tape
- Don’t use soap or water on this particular mat.
- When manipulating your mat to place fabrics on it, make sure to keep your fingers off the grip.
- Cover it after each use.
Should I use Adhesive Spray if my mat is losing its stickiness?
Resticking your mat is a practice recommend it by many bloggers and forums out there. I’ve never tried it, and honestly, I don’t think I ever will.
I am not saying that they are wrong. And I am pretty sure that it has worked very well for some of them.
However, there’s a reason that Cricut has created four different mats with four different grips.
I understand you may want to save money, but by spraying adhesive on your Cricut mats, you are not restoring them to their original condition. You may be adding extra stickiness, but it’s not the one that was designed for each mat and material.
What comes after?
You can genuinely get lucky and make it work (There are tons of successful tutorials out there), you can ruin your mat altogether, or you can destroy your materials.
Try it at your own risk, and after you’ve had your machine for a whole year because this might void your machine’s warranty.
I know Cricut mats can be quite expensive over time, but by covering them after you are done with the cutting process, washing them once in a while, and taking good care overall, you can extend their life.
Am I missing something else?
I think I cover pretty much EVERYTHING you need to know about the Cricut mats. Is there something else that should be added to the list? Let me know in the comment section down below.
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