A flat cutting mat is essential for craft projects that use your digital cutting machine or rotary cutter. But when your mat becomes warped, it won’t load properly, and your designs will be miscut and skewed. There are a few reasons that your mat might be warped.
Your cutting mat is warped because of heat and improper storage. Because cutting mats are so thin, they bend very quickly when you store them unsupported, vertically instead of flat. They’re also highly susceptible to heat, so even leaving a mat out in the sun could cause warping.
You shouldn’t use a warped mat, as it could damage your cutting machine and ruin your project. Before you reach for your wallet to buy a new mat, though, read this article to see how to fix your warped mat. A little patience and a few heavy books could be the solution to your problem.
Warped Cricut Mats and Silhouette Mats
Cricut and Silhouette cutting mats aren’t built to last, but it’s usually the stickiness that wears out first. However, a warped mat is just as useless as a mat that’s lost it’s adhesive. The best way to prevent a mat from warping is to store it flat.
Since these cutting mats are very thin, and the creases can easily be permanent, you should never roll or bend your mat intentionally. If your craft space doesn’t have enough table space to store your mats flat, consider hanging them flat on the wall.
Cutting mats are an important part of using your digital die cutting machine, learn how to care for them properly in my article, How To Care for Cutting Mats for a Longer Shelf Life.
Why Is Your Cricut Cutting Mat Warped?
Your cutting mat doesn’t move through the machine on its own; it’s pushed through with the help of rollers. Over time, the rollers can start to curl the edges of your cutting mat. These curled edges can cause problems when you try to load the mat into your machine, leading to your cuts coming out crooked.
Loading your mat into the machine incorrectly can also warp it. When you put the mat in improperly it could also damage your machine, so make sure your mat is facing the right way, the rollers are in the correct position, and the mat is straight. Otherwise, you can warp your mat and wreck your cutting machine all at once.
Another common way people warp their mats is by peeling them backward to remove designs. Many people recommend pulling the mat off your design rather than pulling the design off the mat.
This releases the design better and prevents tearing and stretching in your design. However, to use this method, you have to bend your mat a little.
To pull your mat off your design, flip the mat over after cutting and peel up the edge away from the project you just cut out. If you always peel up in the same direction, you could warp your mat over time without realizing it.
If you use this method, try to peel in different directions or bend your mat back in the opposite direction afterward to straighten it out.
How To Fix a Warped Cutting Mat
Most of the time, you can fix the warp in your Silhouette or Cricut cutting mat by hand. Simply bend the mat gently back in the opposite direction from where the curve is and then lay it out on a flat surface. Making sure the protective film is covering the adhesive, you can also lay heavy objects like books or storage boxes on top of the mat.
If there’s a particular area of the mat that’s damaged, such as curled edges, you can concentrate the weight over that area. Leaving the weights on overnight should flatten it out since gravity and time are the magic ingredients to flatten a warp out of these cutting mats. If your mat is still warped when you take it out from under the books, it might be time for a new mat.
I don’t recommend heating or ironing a Cricut or Silhouette mat. They’re very thin, and it’s very easy to accidentally damage them more with heat or melt off the adhesive and create a sticky mess.
If you need to clean your cutting mat check out my article, How to Clean and Restick a Cutting Mat.
Sometimes the bend or crease in your cutting mat is too much for you to fix. It’s time to buy a new cutting mat. You can get a large multi-pack from Cricut or check out Craft-e-Corner for bundles and sales on Cricut Mats and products. As always Amazon carries both Cricut brand mats, Silhouette brand and off-brand but I can’t speak to the quality of the non-name brand mats.
- Cricut Maker And Explore Air 2 Cutting Mat 12"x 12" Variety Pack 3pc
- Cricut Maker And Explore Air 2 accessories work with either machine to provide specific solutions and time-saving performance for your unique crafting projects.
Warped Self Healing Cutting Mats
Unlike the sticky cutting mats for Cricut and Silhouette machines, self healing cutting mats are designed to last for years and years of repetitive use. Self healing mats are also typically thicker than a Cricut or Silhouette mat, and they don’t have adhesive. Both of those properties make them easier to flatten without damaging them.
As with Cricut mats, to keep your mats from warping in the first place, it’s best to store them flat or hanging up on a wall. If a mat is just propped vertically against a wall it can bend and warp under its own weight. This is why a vertically stored mat needs to be well supported or hung.
Why Is Your Self Healing Cutting Mat Warped?
Self-healing cutting mats are made of plastics or rubbers, topped with a layer of vinyl, making them susceptible to warping in extreme heat. Like Cricut and Silhouette mats, these mats are usually thin and flexible. If your mat becomes misshapen or bent when it’s hot, this can cause mild warping.
These mats also come in substantial sizes, so it can be challenging to store them flat. Storing self-healing mats vertically will warp them, however. They aren’t rigid enough to stand up unsupported.
If you lean them against a wall or tuck them into a shelf, a vertically stored mat will bend. The weight of the mat will bow it, creating a curve. Hanging your mat is an option to store it vertically while still providing proper support.
You should also be mindful about storing your mat near heating vents or other areas that are frequently warm. Even if your mat is stored flat, nearby heat can warm it up enough for it to buckle or warp.
How To Fix a Warped Self-Healing Mat
Fixing a warped self-healing cutting mat is easier than fixing a warped cutting machine mat. Since there is no adhesive to worry about, there are more methods to flatten this kind of mat.
The first method is the same as for Cricut mats: lay the mat flat and cover it with heavy objects for a few hours. If this isn’t enough, you can try gently heating the mat first.
There are a few ways to warm up your mat. In warmer seasons, you may be able to leave your mat in the sun for a few minutes to soften it up. You want your mat to be warm to the touch but not hot.
When it’s too cold for that to work, you can iron a self-healing cutting mat without damaging it. Lay your mat down between two damp towels on a flat surface.
You don’t want to put your iron directly onto the mat, as that could melt it too much or damage the grid pattern printed on the top. The towels will protect the mat and produce a little steam.
Using a low-to-medium heat setting, gently press your iron on the top towel until the mat is warm to the touch, focusing on the warped area. When it’s warm, place heavy objects over the mat to coax it back into shape.
If you have another large flat object, like a piece of plywood or plexiglass, you can place that on your cutting mat. Then place the heavy objects onto the second flat object. This will help evenly distribute pressure over the mat to get it as flat as possible.
If your cutting mats get warped, you don’t have to panic and throw them away! The best way to fix a warped cutting mat is with gentle pressure, gravity, and a little time, no matter what kind of mat it is. The longer you keep the pressure on, the more likely the mat will flatten out.
Storing your mats flat and away from heat sources will help you avoid warping in the first place. Hanging them up is a great alternative for crafters without enough table space to store them flat!