WASHINGTON • Even if you have a no-shoe policy in your house, there will be times when you need to dash in with your shoes on for one last thing, or times when a handyman or repair person needs to wear work boots indoors.
For these situations, doormats are essential.
"With a good brush and stomp, doormats can prevent debris, wet snow and dripping rainwater from entering your home," says Ms Lindsey Handel, a buyer for the garden and home store Terrain in Pennsylvania.
Doormats may help with a comprehensive allergy-fighting plan, too, says Dr Stephen Kimura, a board-certified allergist in Pensacola, Florida. "If you're going to wear your shoes in the house, at least wiping them is going to help some. We've got pollen season now year-round, so these measures are important."
The right doormat depends on whether it will be completely exposed or under a covered porch.
For exposure, Ms Handel recommends coir; for covered exposure, she says you can go for a less-durable jute-and-coir mix. The best thickness depends on whether the mat is inside or outside.
"It's nice to have a softer and thinner rug inside and a more bristly, durable one outside," says Ms Joy Cho of California design studio Oh Joy.
Although Ms Cho, who has two children, has a no-shoe policy at home, she considers doormats a "decorative and fun way to greet guests" and help catch dirt, water and snow before shoes are placed inside the door.
If you have one main entry, she says to go "with one you really love that makes a statement or has a fun greeting".
For secondary entries, she suggests coordinating the mats' look: "They could be exactly the same for consistency or have a similar vibe."
For interior entryways, she recently designed some washable rugs for rug specialist Lorena Canals.
For exterior doors, she likes vinyl Chilewich mats, which are mould-, mildew-and chlorine-resistant, with a water-blocking, slip-resistant vinyl backing. The company's latest design, Simple Stripe, has a functional stripe made of PVC yarns that scrape away debris.
Terrain's Ms Handel says in most climates, the fibre coir, made from coconut husks, is best for exterior doormats that are exposed to the weather.
"The thicker and scratchier the doormat you can find, the better" for scraping off dirt, she says. She prefers a knot-patterned weave doormat for its classic look.
For a multi-season mat that can handle whatever weather is thrown at it, try a lobster-rope mat, says Ms Lisa Myers, owner of home-goods store Capers in Seattle. "They work to shed the water and they have a little bit of coarseness to the rope that takes the dirt off," she says.
Ms Myers highlights the Rope Co's doormats, handmade in Maine by fifth-generation lobstermen. "They're super durable. I had a similar one for many years and I just hosed it down and it keeps looking great."