Rug pads for hardwood floors are a hot topic because so many unsuspecting hardwood floor owners end up with "stained" or severely discolored floors due to a chemical reaction between the rug pad material and the floor finish.
The following information pertains strictly to polyurethane-coated solid hardwood floors.
Area rug pads for hardwood floors are frequently mislabeled or even misrepresented. You will see many marked as "for use with wood floors" or "for use on hard surfaces" ... and you assume it's okay for your hardwood floor.
But remember, your hardwood floor has a polyurethane coating and that's the surface which comes in contact with the rug pad material - not raw wood.
Rebond Rug Pads
For an inexpensive option, we recommend the Rebond Padding made from recycled scraps of foam between 3/8" and 7/16" in thickness.
Cut the pad an inch or two smaller than your area rug and use carpet tape on the seams to hold the two together.
Poly Rug Pads
Another good option is Polyurethane Padding. It is reusable and has a lot of cushion.
Poly rug pads are made from a mix of small fibers pressed into a thin roll of fiber material.
Fiber Rug Pads
One last suggestion is Fiber Padding made from recycled polyester fibers.
This type holds up well and works great under area rugs to prevent movement, but it isn't as comfortable.
Choose from synthetic fiber or recycled textile fiber.
Steer clear of most rubber, foam-backed, latex, plastic-matted or non-ventilated rugs and padding.
Some rugs are made of PVC (vinyl) that contains plasticizers which can discolor the finish or the wood. The damage is permanent and it's not a pretty sight. Your floors need to breathe.
In particular, there is a popular anti-skid synthetic rubberized product also used for lining shelves and drawers that leaves an un-repairable and very distinct crisscross, grid, or egg crate pattern on your hardwood floor.
You might find that even carpet or general flooring stores will recommend it! Yikes! We say ... don't take the chance with this type of pad if you're not absolutely sure.
We've seen the irreversible damage they cause for unsuspecting hardwood floor owners and a simple buff and recoat won't repair it. The "stain" has to be sanded off, which generally means sanding your entire floor.
Similarly, there are bathroom-style rugs with a certain type of rubber backing known for yellowing linoleum and vinyl flooring. They also permanently discolor hardwood floors.
And last, do not use a stiff pad with hard cleats or grippers. Many people like to use these near outside entrances, but they can cause indentations in the wood.
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