Desk pads, or desk blotters, may not be as common a sight in offices or on desktops as they once were but they are still a great option to consider whether you’re looking at them for practical or stylish purposes. They provide a better surface to write on than the hard surface of your desk — either used on their own or paired with traditional blotter paper — and they can protect your desk in the process — or cover up any damage it may have already incurred.
Even if you aren’t writing on them, they can serve as an effective substitute for a mouse pad, and they can come in sizes large enough to make for a great non-slip base for your laptop or keyboard.
Here are some of our favorites.
Best All-Around Desk Pad
If you’re looking to keep things simple and streamlined on your desk, then Satechi’s Eco-Leather Deskmate might be just what you’re after. It’s available in your choice of blue, black or brown, and is a good choice for smaller desks (or larger desks you don’t want to cover up too much) at 23″ x 12.2″ in size. You can use your mouse on the desk pad itself, but Satechi also makes some separate matching mouse pads that you can pair with the desk pad if you find that things are getting a little too cramped.
Best Leather Desk Pad
Dacasso is one of the bigger names when it comes to desk pads, and the company makes a wide range of options to suit just about anyone’s needs. This leather desk pad with a felt backing is available in black or brown and in a range of sizes, and can add a higher-end touch to your desk as well as providing a great writing surface. If you’re looking to go fully old school, you can opt for a model with side rails and add some of Dacasso’s blotter paper in your choice of color.
Best Budget Desk Pad
If you're looking for an affordable option, this clear desk mat is about as cheap as they come. A few retailers like Ikea go even lower, like this $5 option, but unless you're already making an Ikea order, the cost of shipping will likely eat into those savings.
Best Felt Desk Mat
You can't swing a dead cat without hitting 18 desk mats that are made out of leather, so why not switch it up with something a little more unique? Grovemade's wool felt pads add a bit of texture to a desk that might otherwise lack it, both in terms of feel and in terms of color.
Best Desk Pad for Writing
If you're looking for a desk pad that you can do some more analog work on, the House of Doolittle Doodle Pad is great for writing on. It comes with 50 paper sheets included, and is refillable when you burn through those.
Best Smart Desk Mat
Desk pads are pretty low tech by design, but you can sneak a little gadgetry in there. If you're looking for a pad that can also help you keep your other high-tech tools topped off, this pad with an integrated wireless charger makes it easy to keep your smartphone or headphone up near 100 percent without sacrificing desk space to a dedicated charger.
Best Mouse Pad
If you're looking for something smaller than a full desk pad, either for real estate or cost considerations, this mouse pad from MROCO is a great choice. Conveniently the size of a standard piece of paper, it's easy to know whether it will fit your setup, and its classic black vibe will fit any desk and with no risk of getting visibly dirty, all for a very low price
Best Large Desk Mat
If you are looking for a truly large desk mat, Grovemade's Extra Large option should have you covered. At 26.5" x 49", it's one of the larger options out there. The Matte option is the most affordable, but you can also get this gargantuan pad in felt or leather if you are prepared to pay $200+.
If you're looking for a desk mat with a little more functionality than just sitting there, Orbitkey's offering has a few features that might catch your eye. Complete with a flap for hiding documents underneath its vegan leather surface, it also has a special magnet-and-track along its top edge that helps corral any wires that may be connected to your various devices.
Ikea offers some basic, no-frills desk pads for less than $10 if you’re just looking for something to protect your desk, but it’s worth shelling out a little extra cash for the company’s RISSLA Desk Pad if you want a bit of a more complete package. It’s fairly large at 33 7/8″ x 22 7/8″, and it has both a lip along the front edge to hold it in place on your desk and a handy flap on the left side that you can tuck papers or other belongings under. The synthetic leather material is also made from 80% recycled paper, although you’re out of luck if you had your heart set on a color other than black.
They might not be able to match Dacasso’s desk pads as far as fit and finish goes, but Staples’ faux leather desk pads should fit the bill for anyone looking for a traditional style desk pad at a more affordable price. They’re available in black, brown or blue, and come with side rails that can accommodate blotter paper, or simply be used whenever you need a place to tuck away business cards or other papers.
A desk mat may seem unnecessary and frankly, it is. Your desk will be able to hold objects just fine without a mat. But a nice mat is a functional and aesthetic upgrade that is well worth the investment.
Protection: A desk mat will help defend your desk from the wear and tear of keyboards, mice, and your own arms. It's a layer of protection that's equally valuable if you have a nice desk you would like to keep nice, or a cheap desk that requires all the help it can get.
Grip: If you have a slick desk surface, you may find various desk implements running away from you when you are using them or when you're not looking. A desk mat will add a field of higher traction for keeping things like a keyboard in place, and many also come with elements that will keep more traditional writing implements or styluses (or vape pens, or what have you) from rolling away as well.
Cleanliness: A desk mat will not only help you keep the surface of your desk clean, but also serves to create a distinct space on your desk for various tools to belong. If you have a tendency to generate mess that expands to fill the space available, a desk mat may help you create a smaller space for at least part of your mess. Pads with a place to hide documents go a step further.
Better mouse performance: Optical mice have come a long way and work relatively reliably on many surfaces, but some desks and mice just do not get along. Unless you want to switch to a trackball, a desk pad will give you all of the benefits a mousepad would, but with the additional advantages of extra real-estate.
Sound dampening: If you're a keyboard nerd, you might benefit from a softer desk surface that can help slightly mitigate the thudding of a mechanical keyboard, if that's a goal.