You've just purchased the perfect area rug to complement your hardwood floor. You know that using a rug pad underneath it can make it softer to walk on and less likely to slip around on the floor. But you've also heard that some rug pads can damage hardwoods. So, what are the best rug pads for hardwood floors? We've done the research, and we have the answers for you!
The best area rug pads for hardwood floors are manufactured from 100% natural ingredients, such as felt and natural rubber. The 6 best area rug pads include:
- RugPadUSA Super Lock Natural
- Ninja Low-Profile Hardwood Floor
- RugPadUSA EcoPlush
- Mohawk Home Ultra Premium
- RugPadUSA Rug Pro
- Mohawk Home Supreme Dual Surface
Each of these pads has unique qualities that make it best for specific circumstances. In this article, we'll discuss the benefit of using pads under your area rugs, the factors that affect your choice of rug pad, and the advantages and disadvantages of each of the six superior pads listed above. Keep reading to learn more!
The Benefits Of An Area Rug Pad
There are four major benefits to placing rug pads under your area rugs; we'll discuss them below.
Area rugs, especially the thin-weave runners and throw rugs that are common in hallways and entries, tend to slip or bunch. This poses a safety hazard, especially for senior citizens and for active children and pets. Using non-slip rug pads in high-traffic areas greatly reduces these risks.
Protection Of Floors
Many area rugs are manufactured with hard, scratchy plastic backings that can scrape the floor; they may also contain chemicals that react with the finish on hardwood floors, resulting in discoloration or stripping of the wood. A high-quality rug pad constructed of felt and/or natural rubber protects the floor.
Preservation Of Area Rugs
The fibers in area rugs, especially in thin-woven rugs without backing, are crushed against the floor when people walk on them and/or when heavy objects -- including furniture-- are placed on them. Padding preserves the rug and extends its life.
Thick padding beneath an area rug adds to the comfort of walking, sitting, or lying on the floor. This is particularly important in living rooms, family rooms, and other areas where household members might spend substantial time on the area rugs.
Best Area Rug Pads For Hardwood Floor
Not all rug pads are created equal, especially for use on hardwood floors. Most cheaper pads are manufactured with plastics that contain phthalates -- chemicals that make the pad tougher but can also dissolve the sealant and stain from a hardwood floor. Low-quality rug pads may also contain adhesives that can stick to the floor or clay fillers that stain hardwoods. To protect your floors, select rug pads that contain only 100% natural materials: the best are made of felt and/or natural rubber.
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This is a hardwood floor that's damaged by low-quality rug pad.
There are three categories of rug pads, each designed for use in specific areas of the home:
- Non-slip pads are thin (1/16" to 1/8") and made of natural rubber, with no padding. Their primary purpose is to keep runners and throw-rugs in hallways, entries, and other high-traffic areas from slipping.
- Cushioned pads are made of thick felt and are intended for use under large rugs (8'x10' or larger) in living rooms, dens, and family rooms. They make the rug more comfortable to walk or sit on. Because they are typically anchored by heavy furniture, cushioned rug pads do not need a non-slip layer.
- Cushion + grip pads include both a thick felt layer for comfort and a non-slip layer of natural rubber for grip. Cushion + grip pads are ideal for use under area rugs in bedrooms and other small rugs not anchored by furniture.
Below, we describe the top two rug pads in each category.
1. RugPadUSA Super Lock Natural: Non-Slip
At 1/8" thick and with 16 ounces per square yard of natural rubber, this pad has more cushion and more durability than other non-slip rug pads. It is excellent at preventing slippage and bunching, and its open-weave construction allows the floor to breathe. Made of all-natural materials, it emits no VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) and is highly eco-friendly.
2. Ninja Low-Profile Hardwood Floor: Non-Slip
At 1/16" thick, and with gripping elements on top and bottom, the Ninja rug pad is ideal for holding thin-weave runners and throw-rugs in place. Although it cannot compete with the Super Lock Natural in grip, comfort, and eco-friendliness, it is substantially less expensive and still a top-quality rug pad.
3. RugPadUSA Eco Plush: Cushioned
Eco Plush rug pads are constructed of 100% felt made from recycled materials, and are highly durable. Available in 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" thicknesses, they provide a luxurious feel underfoot while protecting your floor.
4. Mohawk Home Ultra Premium: Cushioned
This rug pad is manufactured of 100% felt and comes in thicknesses of 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2". The softness of the 1/2" pad is similar to that of the Eco Plush, and it is equally durable and comes in a wide range of sizes. At just over half the price of Eco Plush, the Ultra Premium rug pad is an excellent choice for homeowners on a budget.
5. RugPadUSA RugPro: Cushion + Grip
This pad features 100% felt cushioning backed with a thin layer of natural rubber for gripping the floor. It comes in 1/8" thickness, making it ideal for use under low-profile rugs and runners. Despite its relative thinness, it provides outstanding cushioning.
6. Mohawk Home Supreme Dual Surface: Cushion + Grip
Made of recycled felt and non-slip latex backing, this rug pad features an excellent grip. Its 1/2" thickness provides more cushioning than the Rug Pro offers, and its price is about half that of the Rug Pro.
Do Area Rugs Ruin Hardwood Floors?
Many area rugs can damage hardwood floors, in the same ways cheap rug pads can. For example, some rugs have a backing that contains hardened plastic and can scratch the floor. Others are manufactured with chemicals that off-gas and react with the floor's finish, stripping or staining the hardwoods. These area rugs can be used on hardwood floors, but only with a high-quality, all-natural rug pad between the rug and the wood.
Should A Rug Pad Be The Same Size As The Area Rug?
Rug pads are typically a bit smaller than the area rugs they protect: a general rule of thumb is that the rug should extend past the pad by about 1" on all sides. So, for example, if you purchase a rug pad for an 8'x10' rug, the pad will actually measure about 7'11" x 9'11". This overlap conceals the rug pad and reduces tripping hazards.
What Can You Use Instead Of A Rug Pad?
If a high-quality rug pad that won't damage your floors is beyond your budget, you may want to consider one of these less-expensive alternatives:
Double-Sided Carpet Tape
Some types of double-sided carpet tape can be used to provide grip, anchoring an area rug to the floor all around the perimeter of the rug. If you choose this option, make sure that the tape is safe to use on finished hardwood floors. This option will provide grip, but no cushioning.
Rug anchors, small Velcro-like adhesive tabs, can also be used to anchor area rugs. One tab is positioned at each corner of the rug; for larger rugs, additional tabs can be used at intervals along the sides to keep the rug stable. Although rug anchors can reduce slippage and curling, they are not as effective as carpet tape or rug pads, and they provide no cushioning.
Do-It-Yourself With Carpet Padding
If you want cushioning and grip but without the cost of purchasing an area rug pad, you may decide to make your own. You can purchase memory-foam carpet padding at a craft or home improvement store, cut it to the proper dimensions, and use it under your area rug.
How Thick Should An Area Rug Pad Be?
The ideal thickness of an area rug pad is determined by the function of the rug it is protecting. Rugs in high-traffic areas such as hallways and entries tend to be thin, and should have 1/16" to 1/8" non-slip rug pads beneath them to provide grip without raising the profile of the rug enough to increase the danger of tripping.
Thick (1/4" to 1/2") cushioned pads should be used under large rugs in living rooms, family rooms, and other areas where comfort is important. Smaller rugs and those in bedrooms, kitchens, and offices should have 1/8" to 1/4" cushion + grip pads to provide grip and softness.
Choosing a pad for your area rug does not have to be a complex or confusing process. To avoid damaging your hardwood floors, select a high-quality pad made of all-natural materials. Then consider the purpose and placement of your area rug to determine which type of pad to purchase, and how thick it should be. Follow the guidelines above to get the best area rug pad for your project!
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