Vinyl vs Silicone vs Mousepad Chessboards

Vinyl vs Silicone vs Mousepad Chessboards: Which Should You Get?

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In this article, we’ll explore the different chessboards commonly used in tournaments and seen a lot in chess clubs.

We’ll also see their advantages and disadvantages so you can pick the one that suits you best. 

The three primary types of chessboards we’ll look at are vinyl, silicone, and mouse-pad materials.

Vinyl Chessboards: A Portable and Cost-Efficient Choice

First on our list is the vinyl chessboard.

Most roll-up chessboards that you’ll encounter in tournaments or scholastic events will be the ubiquitous vinyl variety.

Renowned as an inexpensive yet practical choice, vinyl chessboards are often favored among frequent travelers. 

Apart from its affordability, a big selling point is its smooth surface. 

It allows easy sliding of chess pieces, which may offer an effortless experience for those veering towards comfortable gameplay.

The added bonus? These boards clean up easily, thanks to their spill-resistant properties. 

So, don’t fret if you spill some coffee or soda on it, a quick clean will leave it as good as new.

However, one disadvantage that you might come across is what is known as the ‘memory effect‘. 

The board tends to retain the shape in which it is frequently kept. 

That means if you have the habit of folding it or keeping it rolled up, you might end up with creases and bumps on it. 

Well, your trusted chess pieces will do their job to hold it down just fine. But, personally, the curled corners do interrupt my immersion in the game somewhat.

On the plus side, vinyl boards are budget-friendly and easily available. 

They offer numerous customization options regarding print and color. 

You can find ones with nature or cosmos-themed backgrounds, and even beach themes.

If you’re looking for something you can carry about, and isn’t pricey, then I suggest getting your hands on this board. 

Silicone Chessboards: A Sturdy and Long-lasting Option

The second type is silicone chessboards, which were introduced as a response to the ‘memory effect‘ that vinyl boards face.

They are devoid of any backing material and hold up pretty well under most conditions. 

They offer more flexibility and can be stretched, folded, or rolled without retaining any of the creases or bumps.

However, the silicone board does come with a couple of downsides. 

You’ll find that sliding pieces along these boards can be a bit tricky due to their rubbery texture. 

Additionally, silicone boards tend to attract more dirt easily, so you’ll have to clean them more frequently.

Mousepad Chessboard: A Perfect Blend of Ease and Durability

To amalgamate the benefits of both vinyl and silicone, the mousepad material chessboard was introduced.

The board’s design is similar to that of a mouse pad, with a thin cloth covering that allows the pieces to slide easily.

Thick, durable, and considerably resistant to creasing, mouse pad boards offer a great gaming experience.

Unlike the vinyl boards, these won’t retain the memory regardless of how you store them.

That’s what I love about them. Once it’s unrolled, they stay flat, ready for a game. 

No more pre-game exercise of wrestling the corners to stay down. Plus, their vibrant colors add a nice aesthetic touch.

However, the polyester top could stain if spills aren’t handled immediately. 

Also, the glued polyester and mousepad material can fray over time at the edges.

In terms of portability, mousepad boards can tend to be big, bulky, and difficult to roll up, making them a hassle to carry around. 

However, if you have a special carrying case designed to contain their size, it could help alleviate some of these issues.

The thicker mouse pad boards are quite heavy, but their quality is truly worth the price.

Taking Your Pick

So, which one should you choose?

If you need something budget-friendly and portable, go for vinyl.

If you prefer a durable board that doesn’t retain any creases or bumps, silicone is your best bet.

But, if you want the benefits of both worlds and don’t mind a little extra maintenance, the mouse-pad material is an excellent choice.

Regardless of which type you choose, they are all excellent options depending on your needs and preferences. 

Happy playing!

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