I have two squares of neoprene rubber as non-slip mats.

Needing a larger area, I bought a large piece off of a metre-wide roll. On arrival, instead of the slightly tacky shiny finish of the smaller mats, it has an oily residue over its entire surface, both sides, and is matte in appearance. Have I bought different materials or is the newer larger piece "unfinished"?

If unfinished, how would I go about preparing it to have similar non-slip qualities as the older, smaller pieces? I have considered washing it in soapy water in hopes the residue is only on the surface, but not sure if this is the correct or wise approach.

  • Hi Paul, since your question is about customizing a generic household item, and there is no artistic angle to it or any type of craft involved, it is off-topic on Arts & Crafts. If you want to, I or another moderator can migrate the question to Home Improvement/DIY SE.
    – Joachim
    Sep 26 '20 at 7:30
  • 1
    @Joachim, this wouldn't be on-topic there. Home Improvement is limited to things related to the structure, infrastructure/utilities, and to a limited extent, major appliances that typically convey with the house. The OP doesn't describe what the mat is for, but such non-slip mats are often a tool/accessory for crafting work. Creating a mat and preparing it for use (selecting material, etc.), seems like it would be within the site's scope from that perspective. Also, neoprene is a common crafting material, so the material characteristics seem relevant.
    – fixer1234
    Sep 26 '20 at 8:17
  • @fixer1234 Good points, and thanks for the info on Home Improvement.
    – Joachim
    Sep 26 '20 at 9:04

There are lots of variations on neoprene. It can have different additives that affect characteristics like softness and surface appearance. Sometimes it is bonded to a fabric. There are variants that are very soft and a little tacky that will grip a surface for extreme non-slip. But as long as it's rubbery and soft enough to conform to the surface, it will act as a non-slip material.

An oily residue could be either oil of some kind used in the manufacturing, or an additive that's leaching out. Many rubber and plastic materials will release some additives, either mostly right after manufacturing or much later, as the material ages. In some cases, it's designed to work that way to serve a purpose, like acting as a mold release.

Neoprene doesn't receive a "finish". Whether the surface is shiny or matte, that's the characteristic of what was made. You can't change that, or the tackiness, later (although you could apply some temporary adhesive to make it tacky if that's required).

Oily residue, though, can be cleaned off. It's a contaminant, not part of the neoprene. There are a few solvents that will damage neoprene, but soapy water or alcohol will be safe for cleaning it.

  • Thanks for taking the time to comment. I washed a small square and indeed the "residue" appears to come off, leaving a slippery finish, without a hint of tackyness (which is moderately annoying). Do you know if there are there different types of neoprene with a specific descriptive term I should look for (other than "non-slip" or "grippy")? Te sheet is 2mm thick but slightly more rigid than the existing smaller peices.
    – Paul Eden
    Sep 26 '20 at 15:15
  • @PaulEden, even if the pad feels slippery because it's very smooth, if it is soft and rubbery, it won't slide around, and it will work for keeping items on it in place if there isn't a lot of vibration. If there's vibration, like from using power tools on the same surface or in a car, you would need a version that's super soft and a little tacky. I'm not aware of a use for that other than non-slip pads or sound deadeners, and those are the only forms I've seen it sold in. So "non-slip" seems like the key search term. "Elastomeric" is sometimes used. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Sep 26 '20 at 18:24
  • The really soft, tacky material is often butyl rubber rather than neoprene. When it's used in sound deadening pads, it typically has a liner so stuff doesn't stick to it. You could try making your own pad from silicone caulk. Thin it with mineral spirits to make it liquid, then spread it into a sheet. Give it several days to dry and cure. It won't be tacky, but it will be very soft and will work for this purpose. You can make it on a stippled surface or duct tape so it has some texture. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Sep 26 '20 at 18:25
  • Another thing that works pretty well is sold as a non-skid rubber mesh or netting. It's used under rugs and to line tool drawers so tools don't slide around.
    – fixer1234
    Sep 26 '20 at 18:25
  • "non-slip shelf mat" might be what @fixer1234 is referring to. That's good stuff though fairly easy to damage with sharp metal tools
    – Chris H
    Sep 27 '20 at 19:25

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