Can cheap rug pads ruin your expensive floors?


As a savvy shopper, you’ve likely put a lot of thought into buying new rugs. You’ve not only chosen the look and feel you want, but done your research on how well your rugs have been made, from what materials, and how they will wear over time. But when it comes to choosing what comes between your rug and your floor, quality and materials are just as important—assuming you care as much about your floors as you do about your rugs.

Once you’ve shopped around and finally chosen just the right rugs for your home or business, choosing a rug pad can feel like an afterthought. But if you choose the cheapest options available, you might want to think again.

Rug pads provide comfort and a sound foundation for your rug or carpet, but the most important thing a rug pad should deliver is protection for your hardwood and other hard surface flooring, which can be very vulnerable when it comes to staining and stripping.

The internet is filled with stories about how a rug pad damaged, stripped, or stained floor finishes. Unfortunately, today's rug pad market is filled with inexpensive but truly inferior rug pads that can cause serious harm to floor finishes.

The rug pads that cause floor damage are usually imported plastic rug pads, and they are everywhere in the market, usually offered at appealing price points. But the actual cost of using these pads can be steep, as they can ruin the finish on your valuable wood floors.


The main problem with most imported plastic pads is that they are coated with adhesives to enhance grip, which can destroy your floors. These pads contain a combination of toxic chemicals which can "off-gas" and stain floors. Even worse, they can fill your home with toxins. 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 plastic 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 (or even old ones!)

Another issue with imported plastic 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 adhesive process, the pad usually ends up sticking to itself (as shown below) creating lumps under your rugs and not actually functioning to keep your rugs in place.

  • Imported rug pads with too many clay fillers deteriorate leaving a mess on the floor beneath.
  • PVC pads made with additional adhesives stick to floors (and themselves)


Unlike many imported plastic 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. Investing in a higher quality rug pad will benefit you in the long term – as the cost to replace or refinish your floors vastly outweighs the savings from a cheap rug pad. A quality rug pad will anchor your rug for many years, be odor free, not disintegrate and never stick to or stain your floors; it will protect your floors, never destroy them. View a full list of hardwood safe rug pads.

Natural Rubber Carpet Pads

Natural rubber is the best overall option for hardwood floors in terms of both safety and performance. 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 plastic pads. This is important because plastic 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. The rubber used by reputable manufacturers 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 terms of non-slip grip, eco-friendliness, and floor safety and protection. 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, vastly outperforming its synthetic and plastic counterparts.

The best NATURAL RUBBER pads for hardwood floors & finishes:

Felt + Rubber felt and rubber rug pads

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’s 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 both your rug and your floors. Felt and rubber is ideal for flat-weave rugs because the needle-punched felt surface naturally clings to the bottom of rugs to anchor it to its surface.

The best FELT + RUBBER rug pads for hardwood floors & finishes:

100% RECYCLED FELT felt rug pads

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, 100% felt rug pads provide that extra layer of comfort and support that non-slip rug pads do not.

Larger rugs and carpets, like 8x10 and 9x12 rugs, 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. These eco-friendly, ultra-soft pads are totally safe, not only on wood floors, but on all natural and synthetic floor surfaces.

The best 100% RECYCLED FELT rug pad for hardwood floors & finishes:

Shop Rug Pads for Hardwood Floors >