Yes, some rug pads can harm floors but not all rug pads. The internet is littered with stories about how a rug pad damaged, stripped, or stained their floor finishes (see pictured above). Unfortunately, today's rug pad market today (more than ever) is flooded with inferior rug pads that can harm floor finishes.
The rug pads that can cause floor damage are typically imported PVC & plastic rug pads. The problem with most imported PVC pads they are coated with adhesives to enhance grip, which can often wreck havoc on your floors. The other issue with PVC rug pads is they contain a combination of chemicals which can off gas and result in floor staining.
Unlike many imported PVC pads, a natural rubber rug pad will not stain and discolor hardwood floors
Natural rubber, on the other hand, is a low VOC, non-adhesive based material, designed to grip floors not stick to floors.
Here's a list of our natural rubber pads which are 100% safe on hardwood floors & finishes:
Or, view our full list of hardwood safe rug pads.
Rug Pads to Stay Away From
Why do some PVC Pads Stain Floors?
You typically want stay away from Vinyl and PVC rug pads. The vast majority of rug pads on the market come from overseas manufacturers and often contain chemicals, oils, or adhesives that may react with the chemicals in your floor finishes.
A perfect example of this is the use of phthalates in many PVC rug pads. Phthalates are a class of chemicals used to make plastics tougher and harder to break. However, a simple Google search will show that phthalates are also very toxic and can actually be used as dissolving agents. As you can assume, you probably don’t want something that is listed as a dissolving agent on your brand new polyurethane finished hardwood floors. Phthalates, are just one of many reasons to typically avoid PVC pads.
The problem with imported PVC rug pads is that they are manufactured to be as cheap as possible for US consumers, they aren’t designed to be safe with your floors. This makes sense, as many consumers want a cheaper solution and are unaware that these types of pads can hurt your floors. This is why you’ll never see a PVC pad with a long warranty or any type of non marring warranty.
Another issue with some of these imported PVC pads is that they are made with an adhesive coating designed to enhance stickiness and non slip grip. Unfortunately these pads just end up “sticking” to your floors, rather than gripping your floors in the long term. There is also no way of knowing if the adhesive coating will react with your floors, and the pad usually just ends up sticking to itself (as shown above).
I do want to mention that this is rather contrary since we offer two vinyl (PVC) pads of our own. Our pads on the other hand are made in the USA and have been carefully designed to avoid staining and marring floor finishes. You’ll notice that our vinyl rug pads look and feel nothing like the traditional vinyl pads imported from overseas. These pads also serve as an alternative to natural rubber with vinyl & vinyl plank floor finishes when flooring manufacturers recommend using Vinyl over rubber.
Low Quality Latex Pads Can Break Down Prematurely
Our felt and rubber pads are made with natural rubber, not synthetic latex. We reinforce them with a hardened coat of natural rubber to improve their durability. They are made with what we call a “washable” backing vs a “non washable” backing. Most felt and rubber rug pads are made with a non washable latex backing, its far cheaper to produce and looks the same out of the box. Its only after a few years of wear and tear will the pad will begin to decay. Try to stay away from lower quality latex padding. Some manufacturers will use a more clay fillers in place of natural rubber to reduce costs. This causes the pad to prematurely shed and turn to powder, rendering the pad useless. This is especially true with rugs that receive more foot traffic or if your in hot and humid climates as the pad will dry out quicker. Again this takes a few years to show signs of wear, and by that time you’ve probably already forgotten where you bought your rug pad. Honestly, most consumers don’t rearrange rugs or refinish floors often, thus this issue often goes unnoticed.
That’s not to say our pads won’t break down, all latex pads have a shelf life. But we take the extra steps to try to prevent this from happening early one.
Wait for proper floor curing times:
One of the main causes of damage happens when a customer does not wait for the recommended allotted time (30 days) of curing when refinishing floors. If the polyurethane finish hasn’t yet cured, a rug pad can cause significant damage to the floor, as shown here by this pissed consumer. This goes with any floor finish for that matter. Flooring manufacturers offer varying finishes.
Image Source - PissedConsumer.com
Choosing a Safer Rug Pad For Your Hardwood Floors or Hard Surface Flooring
Rug pads provide a sound foundation for your rug or carpet. They make an entire surface softer and more comfortable. However, the most important thing a rug pad should provide is protection for your hardwood floors and hard surface flooring, which can be quite vulnerable when it comes to staining and stripping.
Investing in a higher quality rug pad will benefit you in the long term – as the cost to replace or your floors vastly outweighs the savings cost from an inferior rug pad. A quality rug pad should anchor your rug for many years, and not just in the short term. It should protect your floors rather than destroy them. A quality rug pad should be odor free and never stick to your floors.
Natural rubber is our top recommendation with hardwood floors. It’s perfectly safe to use with all hardwood flooring and finishes. Natural rubber has very strong gripping power and won’t stick to your floors.
Natural rubber pads are also far more eco-friendly than pvc pads. This is important because PVC pads often contain chemicals that can off gas. This off gassing is actually what causes the rug pad to eat away at your floors. Natural rubber is an eco friendly alternative to PVC and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals or plasticizers that can harm your floors. Natural rubber is actually derived from white sap that comes from the hevea brasiliensis tree.
Natural rubber is superior in regards to rug pad protection, non-slip grip, eco-friendly materials, and floor safety. Natural rubber is particularly suitable for hardwood floors and poly finishes that are prone to staining.
This sustainable and eco-friendly material can be used with all types of carpets and rugs while outperforming its synthetic and plastic counterparts.
Felt + Rubber
The combination of felt and natural rubber using a gentle heat-pressing technique creates a rug pad that lends unyielding, non-slip traction with thick, cushioned support. It is essentially a thick layer of felt combined with a thinner non slip natural rubber pad. These two materials create a very durable and long-lasting pad that will extend the life of your rug and floors. Felt + rubber is ideal for flat-weave rugs, because the needle-punched felt surface will cling to the bottom of your area rugs to anchor it to its surface. Felt offers great support & insulation under your rugs.
100% Recycled Felt
Our 100% recycled felt rug pads are manufactured in the USA using natural jute fibers and recycled felt materials. Ideal for large area rugs that do not require a non-slip grip, our 100% felt rug pads provide that extra layer of comfort and support that non-slip rug pads do not.
Larger rugs and carpets tend to be anchored down by their weight or by furniture around the house and therefore do not require a rubber backing that would help keep the rug in place.
The thicker the rug pad, the more soundproofing, insulation, and cushioning you will get.