Did you know that there are two different types of cutting mats? There is the self-healing and the self-sealing. I think most people are familiar with the self-healing mats because these are commonly found at crafts stores. The most common brands are Omnigrid and Fiskars. Personally, I use a Salem mat which is also a self-healing mat. I have been using this brand of cutting mat for about 30 years and still have the first mat that I purchased.
What are the differences between the self-sealing and the self-healing? The self-healing mat is generally a little thinner, softer mat with some being pinnable. The self-sealing mat is a thicker mat with a harder surface. The self-sealing mat is harder to find. The self-sealing mat is better to use with a knife because the surface will not damage the blade. It is not recommended to use a knife on a self-healing craft mat because they are thinner and you might cut through it.
I found a buying guide at cutting-mats.net - http://www.cutting-mats.net/choose-cutting-mats.html
Cutting mat care - http://www.heirloomcreations.net/sewing-tips/rotary-cutting-mat-care-tips/
I also found a youtube video that talked about cutting mat care -
Here’s a good video from olfa regarding care - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOWov9-02Qg
Here’s a blog post on Olfa cutting mat care -
Only you can decide whether to get a self-sealing mat or a self-healing mat but there are other features to look for:
1. Surface Texture
2. Gridded or not
3. Translucent or not
I couldn't find any information about whether the harder surface would dull you blades faster. The only mention that I found regarding the blades was to change them often to extend the life of your mat. A dull blade means that you are working harder to make a cut and most likely pushing down harder on the mat.
So, do you have more than one mat? Are they different types? I have two mats -- a large 2’ x 4’ and as small mat. Do you have any specialty mats? Like a rotating mat or a mat and ironing pad combo? I would love to hear about your experiences with these two type of mats. Are they worth the money to purchase?