Do Rug Pad Damage Hardwood Floors?

Rug pads are essential household items as they protect the hardwood floors from scuff marks. But without proper maintenance and safety precautions, even the softest rubber pads can prove to be harmful. So, do rug pads damage hardwood floors? And if so, how?

Cheap-quality rug pads can interact badly with the components of the hardwood sealants and cause significant damage to the expensive flooring segments. Oil-based cleaners can easily corrode and dissolve the chemicals in the protective layers. Hence, by getting the wrong type of rug pads, you can manage to cause irreversible damage to hardwood floors.

But there are ways to prevent such unfortunate outcomes. Today’s article will help you to figure out why rug pads damage hardwood floors so you can protect the lavish floors.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Do Rug Pad Harmful for Hardwood Floors?

Rug pads protect the glazed hardwood surfaces from scuff marks and visible blemishes. But they aren’t as foolproof at all times, especially with the wrong build. 

For instance, nowadays artificial rubber pads are quite popular as they’re cheap and ‘get the job done’. But did you know that artificial rubber is really bad for hardwood floors?

From imminent discoloration to corrosive damage, artificial rubber can cause hardwood sealants to break down and eventually become ineffective. Here are a few other mediums how rug pads can badly damage hardwood floors.

Plastic Rug Pads

Plastic rug pads are, in general, very bad for hardwood floors as they interfere with the polyurethane in sealants.

Oil-Soluble Material

Some rug pads require oil-based cleaners for thorough clean-ups. The oil in these cleaners can break down sealants.

Synthetic Rubber/Latex

Poor quality latex prevents proper ventilation and thus, it’s harder to get rid of the dampness under the rugs or mats.

PVC Rug & Mat Pads

PVC pads are another big no-no as they react with abrasive cleaners and cause damage to the floors in the process.

Low-Quality Adhesion

Cheap rug pads will use additional adhesive tapes or layers, which will stick to the floors and damage the sealants.

Flammable Components

Synthetic latex, in addition to being carcinogenic, is also highly flammable. Brief contact with the fireplace or even a candle can immediately set fire to the rug & ruin the floors. 

What Kind Of Rug Pad Is Safe For Hardwood Floors?

If you don’t want to spend thousands on new floors, purchase these rug pads for hardwood floors –

Natural Rubber Pads

Nothing beats 100% natural rubber pads in terms of both quality and comfort. They’re every bit as soft and spongy as they’re durable and sturdy. Moreover, they have natural anti-slip properties even in the absence of actual adhesion.

Recycled Rubber Pads

Recycled rubber pads are the next best thing if you find natural rubber pads too expensive. Popular brands like Ruggable, Waterhog, etc. are famous for incorporating at least 20% of recycled components into their rug pads.

Felt Rubber Pads

Felt is really good for inducing a cozy and warm feeling. These pads are comparatively denser and work well in low-temperature regions as they provide extra cushioning.

Composite Material Pads

You can also get composite felt pads with thin rubber layers to get the best of both worlds. The felt segment provides a carpeted feeling while the rubber helps via anti-slip facilities.

How Do Rug Pads Protect Hardwood Floors?

If you’re using the right type of pads, they can protect and preserve the quality of hardwood floors as well. Such as –


Felt rug pads can retain excess vibration and help to reduce the noise levels inside the house.


High-caliber rug covers have water retention capabilities while the rug pads are waterproof. The waterproof pads ensure a safety layer between the damp rugs and the floors.

Retaining Heat & Moisture

Natural rubber and felt rugs can retain both heat and moisture to keep the floors safe during heavily humid weather.

Preventing Discoloration

Even if you spill corrosive liquids on the floor, the dense rug pads will not let them seep into the floor.

Keeping Heavy Furniture In Place

The heavy tables, sofas, etc. can leave harsh scratches on the floors if they’re in motion. By using rugs underneath, you can keep the furniture grounded and the floors safe from damage.

What Rug Backing Is Safe For Hardwood Floors?

Smooth backing rug pads are the safest options for hardwood floors as they don’t incur damage to sealants. 

Rug backings with gripping facilities or adhesive tapes often include toxic chemicals. So, it’s best to avoid them altogether and use all-natural smooth backing rug pads instead.

Using The Wrong Rug Pads: Warning Signs & Solutions

Warning SignPotential ReasonPotential Solution
crisscross discolorationcheap synthetic rubber padschange the cheap pads
spot discolorationchemical dispositionstop using oil-based cleaners
molten plastic-like feelpermanent floor damagetake reconstructive steps
extra slippery rugslack of adhesionuse heavier rubber pads
white scuff markstoo much frictionsand the protective layers

What To Put Under Rug On Hardwood Floor: Alternatives

If you don’t want to go for any of the aforementioned options, here are a few alternative rug pad ideas for hardwood floors!

DIY Rug Pads

You can weave your own rug pads with leftover rubber or felt segments. Make sure to make the pads slightly smaller than the actual covers so you can tuck in the edges!

Fabric Pads

You can integrate several layers of soft fabric to curate DIY fabric pads. Some use cotton or wool-filled pockets to make the pads even softer!

Wool Woven Pads

If you’re good with spinning and weaving, then you can create wool-woven pads in different styles and designs.

Memory Foam Pads

Memory foam pads are great for on-floor relaxation hours! Use unused memory foam mattresses to make these pads.

Second-Hand Carpet Pads

Just like the memory foam pads, you can also use unused carpets to curate sturdy rug pads. Make sure to clean the carpets thoroughly before making rug pads with them.

How To Choose The Best Rugs For Hardwood Floors?

You should always look for the following factors while choosing rug pads for hardwood floors –

  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Anti-Slip Properties
  • Non-Toxic Components
  • Water & Heat-Resistant Properties

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a pad under an area rug on hardwood floors?

Yes, it’s best to use rug pads with custom area rugs to keep the rugs in place at all times. Plus, using pads separately enhances the longevity of both the floor and the custom rugs.

Do rug pads ruin hardwood floors during summertime?

Rug pads with latex or similar chemicals can cause irreversible damage to hardwood floors during summertime. High temperature acts as a progressive catalyst between the components of the floor sealants and the latex.
The pads can then cause severe discoloration and even corrode the fragile areas. So, it’s best to not use these types of rug pads on hardwood floors, especially during summertime.

Do I need a rug pad on hardwood floors with soft mats?

You can use rug pads if you want to keep the mats grounded on the hardwood floors. However, many like to spread the soft mats like an open blanket on the floors.
In that case, you can get by without using the heavy rubber pads to weigh the mats down. But it’s recommended to use rug pads with some rugs to prevent scuff marks on the floor. 

Do I need rug pads for hardwood floors if the floors have been already laminated?

Laminating or using sealants to finish hardwood floors can make the floor surface quite slippery. Hence, your rugs will most likely not stay in their places on the laminated floors.

Rug pads can weigh down the designer rugs and mats to preserve the integrity of both surfaces. Plus, high-quality pads will ensure the safety of the protective layers as well.

What kind of rug pad to use on hardwood floors during winter for extra comfort?

For extra comfort, you can go for thick rug pads to keep yourselves warm during wintertime. Alternatively, you’ll also need to make sure in advance that none of the components in the heavier pads impose any detrimental effects on the laminated hardwood floors. 

Final Verdict

So, do rug pads damage hardwood floors? Well, as you can probably realize by now, the answer is both yes and no.

While good-quality natural or composite rubber rug pads will elevate the standards of your hardwood floors, cheap and low-quality rug pads will do the exact opposite. 

That’s why you should always go for the high-caliber rug pads even if they cost a little bit more. Proper rug pads will save your floors from stains, scuff marks, scratches, splotches, chipped cracks, and many other hazardous affairs.

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