Composite Mats vs Wood: Why Switching From Wood Could Save You Thousands!

Using Plywood as Ground Protection

Plywood is the most popular and cheapest form of wooden ground protection. There are a number of different options for wood mats such as softwood or hardwood, and solid or laminated plywood. They are usually used for steel tracked vehicles and the load ratings are indefinitive and can vary from sheet to sheet, and the load capacity also deteriorates over time. Although plywood is a cheaper option, this type of ground protection has many downsides and are not cheaper in the long term due to their shorter life expectancy compared to polyethylene mats.

The Cons of Using Plywood

  • Absorbs water/liquids which increases weight and accelerates rotting and de-lamination of ply mats
  • Risk of cross-contamination from oils, chemicals, and fluids
  • Very susceptible to fungi, bacteria, insects and rodents
  • No traction creates an unsafe often slippery surface for equipment and personnel
  • Safety hazard from splinters or debris
  • Inconsistent strength properties from mat to mat
  • Very limited lifespan resulting in a higher cost over time

Due to the porous structure of plywood, it can absorb a lot of water, and this water absorption leads to these mats becoming heavy, weak and leads them to rot more quickly and become infested with rodents, insects, and bacteria which further increases the risks of wooden mats failing.

The average load bearing capacity of plywood mats can vary from sheet to sheet due to the differences in the density, quality, ground, weather, and overall usage conditions of the wood.

The cost over time of replacing and maintaining plywood quickly adds up with the average lifespan of plywood being very short and dependent on where and how it is used but with our ground protection mats, you can rest assured that they will last for years.

plywood ground protection
damaged plywood ground protection

TuffTrak® Composite Mats vs Plywood

TuffTrak® Ground Protection Mats Plywood
100% Recycled High Density Polyethylene is recyclable at end of life – lowering carbon emissions and landfill wasteLimited life span and must be replaced, maintained / repaired within a short life cycle resulting in a higher cost over time
Chemically inert – no contamination risk from chemicals oil, and fluidsRisk of cross contamination due to absorption and leaching of oils, fluids, and chemicals
Impervious to water absorptionAbsorbs water and liquids which accelerates rotting and de-lamination of ply mats
Unaffected by mold, bacteria, and resistant to insect infestation. Easy to clean – no cross contamination risksVulnerable to insects, rodent infestation, and fungi and bacteria. Difficult to clean increases risk of cross contamination
Strength / performance guaranteed to be consistent from mat to matInconsistent strength from sheet to sheet causing premature failure and unsafe working conditions
Load bearing capacity of up to 600 psi on our heavy duty mats and 120 tons on our medium dutyNo definitnitve load bearing capacity available and differs from sheet to sheet
Incorporates an aggressive diamond cleat tread for impressive traction and grip even in the most adverse weather conditionsNo traction – very slippery when wet. Mud or ice build up creates hazardous conditions for vehicles and personnel
Flexible construction of TuffTrak® mats molds to undulating or sloping ground conditions providing a secure trackwayWood mats are unsuitable for use on slopes or inclines
Our medium duty mats are light in weight and can be man-deployed without risk of injury due to smooth materialAlthough light in weight, there is a risk of injury from splinters and debris
Rotten wood used as ground protection

The True Cost of Using Plywood

The main reason plywood is the ground protection choice among many contractors is that they think it’s cheap. Although if you start adding up the cost of
replacing plywood you can soon see that in the long-term, using plywood as ground protection is not as cheap as you may think.

The overall average cost of 12 sheets of plywood is nearly £600. If you have to replace your 12 plywood sheets 4 times in a year it would cost around £2,400.

However, if your project has taken place in more extreme conditions such as during adverse weather and in poor ground conditions then your plywood will have to be replaced after every project.

Over 5 years, for example, replacing 12 sheets of plywood after using it 4 times per year amounts to £12,000 and, even worse if you have to replace your plywood after every project, having only used it on 4 projects per year over 15 years, then that is a massive cost of £36,000!

ROI by Using TuffTrak® Composite Mats

By taking the average cost vs plywood and using our EuroMat® ground protection mat as an example, a EuroMat® will provide ROI in less than 15 months (based on replacing plywood every 3 months). In just the first year of using the product in all of your ground protection requirements, you will already have a 91% ROI.

As EuroMat® has been specially designed and manufactured as a complete high load capacity ground protection solution for use in harsh working conditions, you can find comfort in knowing that EuroMat® will far exceed the lifespan of any plywood saving you money in the long term and providing you with a safer, more durable solution.


The bold diamond cleat surface of this mat makes it perfect for giving strong traction and grip. Featuring an impressive load capacity of 80 tons, its lightweight design makes it easy and quick to deploy by hand.

  • 100% recycled High Density Polyethylene
  • Weight 35 kg
  • Length 2410 mm
  • Width 1200 mm
  • Depth 12 mm
  • Load bearing up to 80 tons
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Connector options available to create a secure roadway or work platform
  • Optional hand holes for ease of maneuverability available

View more information about this product here.