How does a puzzle mat work

How a puzzle mat works is in principle quite simple. Below I will explain to you all the possibilities of a puzzle mat. And what the advantages and disadvantages of a puzzle mat are. A puzzle mat is useful if you spend several days on a puzzle, and you want to clean up your puzzle in between. Without having to explain all the pieces again. That is the advantage of a puzzle mat: you roll up your entire puzzle in the puzzle mat, including the puzzle pieces that are still on the puzzle mat. Even if you have only completed your puzzle for 10%, for example, you roll everything up in its entirety in your puzzle mat. You put or put your puzzle mat somewhere else in your house. And: after a few days you can take your puzzle mat again and roll it out and you can immediately continue puzzling! Works very well! However, I've noticed that some people swear by the convenience of a puzzle mat and others don't. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a puzzle mat? I have made a possible list below, but it seems that there are almost two camps: the puzzle mat camp and the puzzle suitcase camp. See or experience what you prefer!!

Puzzle mat topics on this page:

Advantages of a puzzle mat

I've made several inventories of things people mention, the benefits below are not my benefits, but could be potential benefits:

  • Puzzle is easy to move
  • Puzzles nicely clear: all puzzle pieces are on 1 mat
  • Puzzle mat is easy to grab to puzzle for 10 minutes and also very easy to store: both very little effort
  • You can move your puzzle activity over several days by storing the puzzle
  • Easy to store, because it takes up little space, can be stored standing up
  • You don't have to put all your puzzle pieces in the puzzle box again, which saves quite a bit of time
  • Puzzles fine on a kind'felt'-substrate
  • Puzzle pieces are easy to slide on a puzzle mat
  • Bumps – if any! – are relatively easy to get out with ironing the puzzle mat
  • Puzzle mats are not expensive, available from 15 euros. Depending on the size of the puzzle mat you need
  • If pet hair gets on it: You can easily clean a puzzle mat with a damp cloth

Disadvantages of a puzzle mat

I have made several inventories of things people mention, the disadvantages below are not my disadvantages, but could be possible disadvantages:

  • Some puzzle pieces may fall out of the puzzle mat when you roll up the puzzle mat
  • Some puzzle pieces can fall over when you roll up and unroll the puzzle mat, forcing you to turn over an (x-) number of pieces before you can start puzzling again
  • Puzzle pieces get 'damaged' when you roll them up in a puzzle mat
  • Puzzle can fall apart when rolling up or down
  • Puzzle pieces snag behind loose threads
  • Puzzle mat may come out of the box/packaging bumpy in some cases when you buy it
  • Puzzle pieces are not easy to slide on a puzzle mat
  • If you have pets, pet hair can come on a puzzle mat

What's in a box with a puzzle mat?

The box of a puzzle mat usually contains a cardboard tube which you assemble yourself in several parts. There are also a few elastic bands in (2 or 3), which you put around the puzzle when you have rolled your puzzle around the cardboard tube. With this you fix the puzzle mat, as it were, around the cardboard tube. For example the content of this JUMBO puzzle mat:
jumbo_puzzelmat_voor_puzzel_van_1000_1500_2000_en_3000_stukjes_alles_uitgepakt-600x444

JUMBO Puzzle mat for puzzle of 1000, 1500, 2000 and 3000 pieces.

What material is a puzzle mat made of?

That of course depends on the brand and type of puzzle mat you buy, but it is usually made of some kind of felt-like fabric. The fabric that one person thinks is a fine fabric to puzzle on and which the other thinks is not a fine fabric.

Assembling the cardboard tubes from the box

Usually there are 2 or 3 hard cardboard tubes in the box, and you have to assemble these cardboard tubes. Usually this is quite easy. I made a video where you can see what these cardboard tubes look like and how to assemble them:

Rolling up a puzzle mat: how does that work?

The advantage of the puzzle mat is that you can roll it up very easily. My tip: make sure that the pieces are not too close to the edge, because if you roll up your puzzle mat, the pieces will fall out. You can see that in the video below (you can see this puzzle mat in the video):

Another video on how to roll up a puzzle mat:

Fastening the elastic bands of the puzzle mat

Depending on what size puzzle mat you have bought (for a puzzle of 1000 or 1500 or 2000 or 3000 pieces), there are 2 or 3 elastic bands, which you turn around the cardboard tubes that also contain your puzzle mat. I didn't realize how those elastic bands worked at first, because I tried to get them around and take them off, as they were included in the packaging / box. By default, the elastic bands are always in the box with the ends attached to each other.
Two videos showing how difficult it is to use the elastic bands incorrectly - so here's how NOT to do it:
Video 1: the elastic bands are very difficult to get around the puzzle mat when roll up. See for this when you roll up the puzzle mat:

Video 2: And a video how difficult it is when you put your puzzle mat unrolls and you want to take off the elastic bands:

So the video how to use the elastic bands - what I didn't know / understood for a long time:

Unrolling a puzzle mat: how does that work?

Unrolling is easy. You take your puzzle mat from where you stored it. Put it on the floor and unroll it. As you will sometimes see, pieces still fall from the puzzle mat. That's because some pieces will have been too close to the edge when you roll up your puzzle mat. See also the previous video. So if you place pieces too close to the edge of your puzzle mat, pieces will fall out of your puzzle mat when you roll it up AND when you start to unroll it. See the following video (you can see this puzzle mat in the video):

Another video about unrolling a puzzle mat:

Store the puzzle in the puzzle mat

I have only briefly described it as 'storing the puzzle in the puzzle mat', but in fact you put the puzzle in the hard cardboard tubes that come with the puzzle mat. And on the end of these cardboard tubes are two plastic caps. You can remove these caps, and if you want to store your puzzle, you can easily put your puzzle pieces in the hard cardboard tube. Disadvantage: you have to sort all the pieces again and then explain them again. Advantage: you are very flexible and can easily clear up your entire puzzle.
I made a video showing you how to put your puzzle pieces into the hard cardboard tubes and then seal it with the plastic cap:

Storing a puzzle mat: how does it work?

Storing your puzzle mat somewhere is very easy, it takes up little space and you can put it upright or put it on the floor. A few pieces may slip when you put it upright, but my experience is that this is not so bad. For example:
puzzle-in-puzzle-mat-rolled-up-against-wall-600-800

Which puzzle mat should I choose for my puzzle?

That remains a difficult question and difficult to answer. It just depends on what you like as a puzzler. And of course which puzzle of how many pieces you make or want to make on a puzzle mat. For the sake of convenience, I will assume a puzzle of 1000 pieces, and that you need a puzzle mat for that. You have two options here:
1. You like it NOT I'm sorry if all your puzzle pieces DO NOT fit on the puzzle mat - and read my explanation and advice below (!)
For example, it would look like this:
puzzle-mat-jumbo-puzzle-roll-puzzle-mat-puzzle-roll-500-to-1500-pieces
2. You like it WEL I'm sorry if all your puzzle pieces DO NOT fit on the puzzle mat - and read my explanation and advice below (!)
For example, it might look like this – you make sure that your puzzle mat is big enough for ALL 1000 pieces:
Puzzle-1000-pieces-Jan-van-Haasteren-Eurovision-Songfestival-puzzle-pieces-explained-and-box

Choice of puzzle mat for situation: '1. you find it NOT bad if all your puzzle pieces do NOT fit on the puzzle mat'
As an example, you can see this situation in the video below. I have a puzzle made of 1000 pieces (vertical – dimensions of 49×68 cm) and I use the Qualico puzzle mat for 1000 AND 1500 pieces (dimensions 122 cm wide and 66 cm high). As you can see, you can NOT roll up the puzzle pieces in the puzzle mat (while you can even make a 1500 piece puzzle on this puzzle mat):

In this case you can buy a puzzle mat marked on the box, for example 500-1000 pieces. Maximum dimensions are then, for example, 118 centimeters (length) x 66 centimeters (height). If you choose these dimensions of a puzzle mat, not all of your 1000 pieces will fit on the puzzle mat! You can certainly make your puzzle from 1000 pieces on your puzzle mat, no problem. Works very well. However, in this case you do not mind if you roll up your puzzle in the puzzle mat, that you will NOT be able to roll up the majority of your puzzle pieces in your puzzle mat. You then put these back in your box (or puzzle sorting trays) and you have to explain those puzzle pieces again (turn them over) if you want to start puzzling again and you unroll your puzzle mat again. If this is okay with you, a puzzle mat with the dimensions of 1000 centimeters (length) x 118 centimeters (height) will suffice for a puzzle of 66 pieces. For example you can buy:
Puzzle mat Jumbo 'Puzzle & Roll Puzzle mat Puzzle roll 500 | 1000 | 1500 Pieces'

Choice of puzzle mat for situation: '2. you find it WEL bad if all your puzzle pieces do NOT fit on the puzzle mat'
As an example, you can see this situation in the video below. I have a HEMA photo puzzle of 1000 pieces (size 50×70) made on a JUMBO puzzle mat for puzzles up to 3000 pieces. Dimensions of this puzzle mat: size of 152 centimeters (width) x 100 centimeters (height). Watch the video – you roll up all the pieces in your puzzle mat:

My advice in this: do you want to make a puzzle of 1000 pieces – buy a puzzle mat for 3000 pieces (check for yourself the size of the puzzle mat and your puzzle!).
In this case, you usually buy a puzzle mat that is suitable, for example, for puzzles of 1500 – 3000 pieces (preferably a puzzle mat from 3000 pieces, but check the sizes yourself!). I find these kinds of sizes perfect for a 1000 piece puzzle, for example the size of these puzzle mats is 152 centimeters (length) x 100 centimeters (height). I myself have a puzzle mat for my 1000 piece puzzles that is 160 centimeters wide and 90 centimeters high. Very nice, gives you some extra space (check out this extra space and see how a puzzle of 1000 pieces is on such a puzzle mat) If you buy this size of a puzzle mat, all your 1000 pieces will certainly fit on it! So if you roll up your puzzle mat, you really roll up all your 1000 pieces in the puzzle mat and the next time you want to start puzzling again, you immediately roll out again when you unroll your puzzle mat. So ideal. If you like this situation, choose at least a puzzle mat with dimensions of 152 centimeters (length) x 100 centimeters (height). For example you can buy:
Puzzle mat Jumbo 'Puzzle & Roll Puzzle mat Puzzle roll 1000 | 1500 | 2000 | 3000 Pieces'

How big is a puzzle mat?

I have made an overview of the dimensions of all puzzle mats AND an overview of all dimensions of the puzzles. Can you see exactly which puzzle with how many pieces fits on which puzzle mat! Please see the page 'How big is a puzzle mat'

Are there alternatives to a puzzle mat?

There are certainly alternatives to a puzzle mat, which could be the following:

No. What Description
1. Living room table You just keep puzzling on your living room table. Or you should be able to leave your puzzle on it OR finish your puzzle in 1 go
2. Puzzle folder Puzzle folder or puzzle case or portapuzzle: all words that mean the same thing.
3. Wooden Puzzle Board Wooden puzzle boards also come in many different types and sizes and sizes. You can make them if you're handy. Some are even with interlocking systems.
4. Tray You can also buy a number of trays very cheaply and put your puzzle pieces on them. Then stack these trays on top of each other.
5. Puzzle sorting trays Another option is to use puzzle sorting trays in various shapes. These are also quite cheap and easy to stack.