Are placemats tacky?

Are Placemats Tacky? (Here Are Two Ways To Lower Their “Tackiness”…)

The job of a placemat is straightforward: to protect the well-finished surface of your dining table.

You will insist on using placemats if you want to protect the table from spills and burns inflicted by hot dishes.

Placemats are designed thick enough to form insulation between the plate – or whatever food container you have – and the table.

Some of them are designed to resist water, soups, and a few other kinds of spills that may occur.

So, Are Placemats Tacky?

Yes, but it depends on the type. If you are talking fabric-based placemats like those made from linen and similar materials, then yes. You are going to regret it if you spill a drink or water on them. Such accidents are prone to occur, sometimes too frequently, especially if you have small clumsy children at home. Most people would find it inappropriate to keep eating over a wet and soggy placemat. The whole process of removing it from a well-set dinner table will certainly add a blot on the dinner experience. Picture the juices and soups dropping from the fabric. Yuck! If you are thinking plastic or vinyl placemats, then no – they are far from coming across as tacky.

Why Would You Want To Utilize Placemats?

If you have a table with a beautiful wood finish, chances are you love it so much that you wouldn’t miss the slightest opportunity to show it off to your visitors.

So, most of the time, you wouldn’t accompany your dinners with placemats.

But, once in a while, you’d use them to protect the beautiful finish on the table as well as enhance your preferred design of the dinner setting.

It only makes sense that you keep a wide range of cotton, linen, and vinyl placemats to suit every occasion.

You can also switch between them depending on your mood and even the festive season at hand.

If you expect splashes and messy eating from kids on your dinner, it only makes sense you choose cork or vinyl placemats to help you cut on the amount of cleaning work thereafter.

Conversely, if you are expecting a few adult guests, you may do away with cheap less tacky vinyl placemats in favor of more stylish leather pro similarly luxurious placemats.

Six Placemat Material Options

From durable plastic placemats to elegant but vulnerable linen designs, the perfect placemats for your table will depend on an array of factors, including

  • how often you plan to use them
  • as well as how desperate you are to protect your table from the destruction inflicted by hot dishes and from spills.

While there are several materials to select from, each of these materials comes with benefits and setbacks and, of course, the “tackiness score”.

Anything with fabric in it is tacky, so those kinds of placemats may not be a great choice for you:

1. Fabrics

Because of their soft texture and easy maintenance, fabrics such as cotton and linen are a good choice aesthetic-wise (or if that’s your taste), but you can’t imagine the scenes on the table when a hot broth pours on them.

Fortunately, most fabric placemats you will find in the store can be thrown into the washing machine and emerge clean, ready for the next meal.

They are also phenomenal at resisting heat – place a hot bowl of casseroles on them and not even a curl or any heat-induced deformation will form. However, they pick stains quite easily after a short period.

For that reason, most people save them for special occasions.

Fabric placemats are still an interesting lot – you will bump into denim products with cute pockets on the side for your cutlery and spoon!


Velvet options feel soft under the palm, and their natural color doesn’t grab the attention away from the crockery or food, but they are still tacky!


2. Corkboard

Corkboards and plastic placemats (more on plastics later) are the least tacky of all placemats. Corkboards are impressively sturdy and spill-proof and that’s exactly what you want in a placemat.

And if you combine them with a beautiful protective finish, they can provide superb heat-resistance and still look nice on your table.

This option is perfect for those who would like something elegant and durable.

They come with two setbacks though – they are too stiff and don’t support machine washing.

But they are lightweight, easy to scrubs, and recyclable.


3. Plastics

Besides being the least tacky placemat you could buy, plastic placemats are stain-resistant and offer remarkable protection from most kinds of spills.

In the event of an accidental spill, just grab a towel or a piece of cloth and wipe it and keep going with your meal.

They are durable and crumb-resistant, too. If you are looking for a product that supports carefree use on a daily basis, or you have children at home, plastic placemats would be the right choice.

However, some vinyl placemats perform poorly when it comes to heat resistance – most of them would deform under anything at 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

This means they aren’t appropriate for hot dishes.


4. Leather

One of the reasons why leather placemats aren’t very common is the luxurious nature of leather.

They are an option you would only bring out for important meals with your guests.

Leather is sleek and superbly waterproof. It is also easier to clean compared to cork and fabric options.

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of leather placemats is their anti-skid build and impressive heat resistance. Unless you use a very sharp knife or forks, leather placemats are hard to scratch.

Leather isn’t sustainable or environmentally friendly, but you can opt for faux leather variety instead, which comes with most of the qualities of genuine leather. Whether you go faux or genuine, you won’t end up with a tacky product!

5. Polyester

Polyester makes some of the most durable placemats you could find in the store.

Its products will keep delivering service for years, ensuring that they’re a great investment.

Very much like their plastic counterparts, they come in a wide range of different designs, so you are almost assured to find a product that meets your aesthetic priorities.


A simple wipe with a moist cloth is enough to remove most kinds of dirt.

6. Lace

This is a popular kind of placemat with a sophistication both an environmentally conscious and tasteful person would appreciate. They are reusable.

If you are looking for a placemat that can go with virtually any table setting of your choice, lace placemats can be the best choice for you.

They also make beautiful presents.

That one and the fact that they come in many different designs and shapes makes them one of the items you’d consider for a friend’s birthday, as a gift.


Lace placemats are almost exclusively decorative, with all kinds of embroidery patterns. They’re food-safe, and the buyer has several materials to choose from.

How to Have a Nice Experience with Placemats (Even The Tacky Ones)

Some of the problems that come with some placemats, especially those vulnerable to spills, can be removed through a few thoughtful adjustments.

1. Accompanying Your Placemats with Table Runners

As with tablecloths, homeowners often compliment placemats with table runners.

Some people have even gone a mile further to stack elements with a tablecloth, placemat, and a runner simultaneously.

How a person applies their placemats depends almost entirely on the occasion at hand, the specific look they are trying to achieve, and their tastes.


However, the main reason why most people would use a placemat and a table runner at the same time is to prevent spills from getting past the placemat to the rest of the table.

2. Accompanying Your Placemat with A Table Cloth

Still a bit unorthodox but allowed – you can combine a placemat with a tablecloth.

Place your pad beneath the tablecloth so that whatever tablecloth you choose to use falls smoothly on the table.

Put a tablecloth that’s a suitable size and shape over the table – if the event is formal or romantic, they should at least be fabric tablecloths complete with a drape in the region of 8 – 12 inches.

Now place your dinnerware or any similar items directly on your tablecloth.

However, there’s no set rule in this entire endeavor, and some diners use placemats right on top of their tablecloths.

If this is your case, use cloth table mats with a rhyming cloth tablecloth.

So, remember to place your delicately patterned mats on nothing but solid-color tablecloths; solid mats on their rhyming patterned tablecloths, etc.

Conclusion

Can placemats be considered tacky?

Yes.

But it depends on the type of material you choose. Some of them are designed to resist water, soups, and a few other kinds of spills that may occur.

If you are talking fabric-based placemats like those made from linen and similar materials, then yes they are tacky.


You are going to regret it if you spill a drink or water on them.

Such accidents are prone to occur, sometimes too frequently, especially if you have small clumsy children at home.

If you are thinking plastic or vinyl placemats, then no – they are far from coming across as tacky. It only makes sense that you keep a wide range of cotton, linen, and vinyl placemats to suit every occasion.

Scroll to Top