Desk pads, or desk mats, 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.
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Why Use a Desk Pad?
A desk pad may seem unnecessary and frankly, it is. Your desk will be able to hold objects just fine without a pad. But a nice pad is a functional and aesthetic upgrade that is well worth the investment.
Protection: A desk pad 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 pad 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 pad 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 pad 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.
What to Look for
Material: Desk pads come in a wide variety of materials, with leather, felt, vinyl and plastic being some of the most popular. The matters mainly because you are going to be touching it every time you use your computer — and you want something that feels and looks good.
Size: Desk pads come in several different sizes. Some can cover your entire desk. Some are specifically designed to fit either standard or full-sized keyboards. And some are also designed to function as a mouse pad, as well. The larger the pad, the steeper the price.
Why You Should Trust Us
We've been writing about and reviewing products for near-on a decade. We also work with major brands and talk to experts within the computer, audio and accessories industries. The below selections of desk pats are a combination of products that we've had hands-on experience with as well as products made by brands we trust.