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Can Area Rugs Damage Hardwood Floors

Updated: May 26

Solid hardwood flooring is expensive, and rugs make a fine accent for your home, as do area rugs that grace them on floors. Can rugs damage hardwood floors? The short answer is it's possible; area rugs can sometimes damage hardwood floors without precautions. Let's discuss a few ways in which area rugs might cause damage to hardwood floors and how to mitigate them.


dusty wood floor
can rug pads harm wood floors


How Do Area Rugs Damage Hardwood Floors


Scratching and Abrasion: If an area rug doesn't have a non-slip backing or padding, it can move around on the hardwood floor due to foot traffic. The back of some machine-made area rugs is scratchy, and walking across them can cause scratching and abrasion of hardwood floors over time. Additionally, soil can work its way through or under some types of area rugs, causing unsightly scratches and dulling the sheen and luster of your hardwood floors.


Moisture Trapping: Area rugs are absorbent; a liquid spill or pet accident can saturate a rug to the foundation, and back moisture underneath the rug can lead to problems like warping, cupping, and staining of the hardwood floor. This can also happen if the rug is not properly dried after spills or when cleaners attempt cleaning in place on hardwood floors. One reason you never want to clean rugs in-home


Chemical Reactions: Some rug materials, such as carpet adhesives and rubber adhesives, used in the back of tufted rugs can react with the finish on hardwood floors. This reaction can result in discoloration or damage to the floor's finish.

Fading: Direct sunlight exposure can cause hardwood floors to fade or in some cases darken. If an area rug covers only a portion of the floor, the uncovered areas can fade differently, leading to uneven coloration.


What Kind Of Rugs Don't Damage Hardwood Floors


Certain types of rugs are safer for hardwood floors than others.


Natural Fiber Rugs:

Rugs made from natural fibers like wool, silk, cotton, jute, sisal, and bamboo are generally safe for hardwood floors. These materials are made without chemical-based adhesives that can off-gas, and their fibers on the back are softer and less likely to scratch or damage the floor's finish.



oriental rug and rug pad on a floor
Hand woven rug and rug pad


Oriental and machine-loomed rugs are woven and don't use adhesives in their construction. So avoiding rugs with rubber or latex backings, as these materials can react with the finish on hardwood floors and cause discoloration or damage. Also, rugs held together with adhesives, like tufted rugs, don't last as long as woven rugs.




Are Rug Pads Worth It


Rug pads protect wood floors. However, choosing the right type of rug pad is essential; all padding is not equal. Choose rug pads explicitly made for area rug use and from materials safe for hardwood, such as felt or vinyl backing. Rug pads provide cushioning, prevent slipping, and allow air circulation to avoid moisture buildup. In short, rug pads are worth the investment to protect hardwood floors. Make sure to choose a rug pad engineered for use on wood floors.



  • Choose the Right Material: Opt for rug pads made for area rugs and hard surfaces that are safe for hardwood floors. Felt and vinyl are commonly recommended materials for rug pads. These materials provide cushioning and prevent slipping without causing damage to the hardwood floor's finish.

  • Avoid foam Rubber or Rubber derivates: These pads can trap moisture, react with floor finishes, and dry out and leave powdery pad residue on your floors, potentially causing discoloration or damage to the hardwood floor.

  • Proper Sizing: A rug pad should be smaller than the rug to prevent it from sticking out from the edges of the rug. For most rugs, this is about 1" inch around. This helps to maintain a neat appearance and prevents tripping hazards.

  • Regular Maintenance: Periodically lift the area rug and vacuum the rug pad like you would your rug. If you turn or rotate your rug do the same with your pad to even out wear.


Can Rug Pads Be Cleaned

Most area rug pads can be cleaned just like your rug; however, area rug pads don't need to be cleaned very often unless a spill goes through to the pad, like pet urine or food spill. It's a good idea to roll your rug up and vacuum a rug pad once a year; Some rug types and soil can filter through your rug and to the rug pad.



Can You Use Rug On Carpet

When placing an area rug or oriental rug on a wall-to-wall carpet, they often need specialized padding designed for rug-on-rug application to keep rugs from moving or rippling on the carpet. The performance aspects of rug-to-rug padding differ from that of a hard surface, and results vary depending on the carpet's thickness and padding. Should You Put Rug On Carpet? Ultimately area rugs and oriental carpets were never intended to be used on carpets, and their use on them can be problematic and chronic. A rug on a carpet can bunch up and ripple and this can be a chronic issue not always fixable with an area rug pad.



When To Replace Rug Pads

Over time, rug pads deteriorate, compress, lose resilience with foot traffic, and become less effective. When to replace rug pads; if you notice signs of wear or the pad no longer provides adequate cushioning, griping, or slip protection. Replace with quality rug-specific area rug padding


If you see rug pads leaving residues on your hardwood floors or if your pad is sticking to the floor it's time to replace it. While you can use an old pad with a new rug It's best to replace padding when replacing the rug to make sure the pad is sized right to the rug, rug pads wear and have lower cushion in high-traffic areas.



The right rug pad can be a valuable asset in preserving the beauty and integrity of your hardwood floors, area rug and add aesthetics, comfort, protection, and safety. Ensure you choose a high-quality rug pad made from suitable materials to reduce and avoid any negative impact on your hardwood floors.




Renaissance Rug Cleaners serves Portland, Oregon, for area rug and oriental rug cleaning services.




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