Yes, some rug pads can harm floors... but not all rug pads. The internet is filled with stories about how a rug pad damaged, stripped, or stained floor finishes (see pictured above). Unfortunately, today's rug pad market is saturated with inferior rug pads that can cause serious harm to floor finishes.
The rug pads that can cause floor damage are typically imported PVC and plastic rug pads. The problem with most imported PVC pads they are coated with adhesives to enhance grip, which can often destroy your floors. The other issue with these pads is that they contain a combination of toxic chemicals which can "off-gas" and result in floor staining as well as fill your home with toxins.
Unlike many imported PVC pads, a natural rubber rug pad will never stain or discolor hardwood floors.
Natural rubber is a low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), non-adhesive based material designed to grip floors without sticking to them.
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.
Why Do Some PVC Pads Stain Floors?
You typically want stay away from Vinyl or PVC rug pads. The vast majority of these pads on the market come from overseas manufacturers and usually contain chemicals, oils, or adhesives that may negatively 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, they are also extremely toxic and can 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.
The problem with imported PVC rug pads is that they are manufactured to be as cheap as possible for American consumers --- they are not designed to be safe on floors. This makes sense because many consumers want a cheaper solution and are unaware that these types of pads can hurt your floors. This is why you will rarely see a PVC pad with a sizable warranty.
Another issue with imported PVC pads is that they are made with an adhesive coating designed to enhance their non slip grip. Unfortunately, these pads just end up literally sticking to your floors rather than gripping them. Also due to this adheseve process, the pad usually ends up sticking to itself. (As shown above)
We must mention that this may seem contradictory because we offer two vinyl (PVC) pads at RugPadUSA. Our pads are different because they are made in the USA and have been carefully designed to avoid staining and marring floor finishes. 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 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. Inferior pads are made with a "non-washable" backing and decay at a much faster rate, usually only after a couple of years.
Also some manufacturers will use clay fillers in place of natural rubber to reduce manufacturing costs. This causes the pad to prematurely shed and turn to powder, rendering the pad completely useless while causing a mess and damaging your floors. This is especially true with rugs that receive more foot traffic, or those in hot and humid climates as the pad will dry out much quicker. It will take a few years to show signs of wear, and by that time you’ve probably already forgotten where you bought your rug pad. Also, 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 eventually break down because it is impossible for latex pads to last forever. But we take the extra steps to try to prevent this from happening prematurely. We also offer a 20 year warranty for all of our rug pads.
Wait for proper floor curing times:
One of the primary causes of damage happens when a customer does not allow their floors to cure for 30 days after refinishing them. If the polyurethane finish hasn’t yet cured, a rug pad can cause significant damage to the floor.
Choosing a Safer Rug Pad For Your Hardwood Floors or Hard Surface Flooring
Rug pads provide comfort and a sound foundation for your rug or carpet. However, the most important thing a rug pad should provide is protection for your hardwood and other hard surface flooring, which can be very 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 from an cheap rug pad. A quality rug pad should anchor your rug for many years, and not just be a short term solution. A quality rug pad should also be odor free and never stick to your floors. A quality pug pad should protect your floors, not destroy them.
Natural rubber is our top recommendation for hardwood floors. It’s perfectly safe to use with all hardwood flooring and finishes. Natural rubber also has very strong gripping power but will never 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 floor finish. Our rubber is derived from white sap from the hevea brasiliensis tree, is 100% natural, and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals or plasticizers that can damage floors.
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 and 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.
100% Recycled Felt
Our 100% recycled felt rug pads are manufactured in the USA using natural jute fibers and recycled 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 own weight or by furniture on top of them 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 enjoy.