Which Area Rug Pad Should I Choose For My Hardwood Floors?

A great way to make your beautiful hardwood floors pop is to lay down an area rug that complements the space. One thing that’s often discussed is the rug pad that goes underneath the area rug. If you just refinished your hardwood floors, will a rug pad smudge the finish? Let’s take a look at the best types of rug pads for your particular hardwood flooring and which types to avoid.

Why Choose an Area Rug Pad?


The most important reason to purchase an area rug pad is for safety reasons. Rug pads will keep the rug in place, preventing any slips or falls caused by movement. Kids, pets, and adults can all benefit from having a rug pad in place under every area rug in the home.


A rug pad can prevent damage to the floor caused by the underside of the rug. Some rugs are made with an abrasive backing material which can cause scratches and wear down the finish on your floor—especially if the rug moves a lot. A rug pad can also prevent dye transfer from the rug to your floors.


Adding a rug pad underneath your area rug can add thickness which makes it feel plusher underfoot.

The reality is that many area rug pads can be damaging to your floors. Imported, cheaply made pads are made from chemicals which can chemically bond to the polyurethane on your hardwood floors if left in place for a long period of time.

Some inexpensive latex or synthetic rubber pads are made with clay fillers which work well initially, then break down and crumble into pieces. Selecting a quality rug pad is essential and can prevent problems before they happen.

How to Choose the Perfect Area Rug Pad

Polyvinyl-based (PVC) – Vinyl and PVC rug pads are widely used and are the most affordable rug pads that you can buy. However, they may not be safe for all hardwood floors, especially with regards to vinyl, acrylic, lacquer, and oil-based finishes as they can permanently discolor the floor.

In addition, most lower cost pads haven’t been analyzed for non-toxic content or VOC emissions.

Synthetic latex – These pads perform well for a short period of time. Clay fillers are often blended with the latex which reduces the price; however, clay has a tendency to dry out, leaving behind flakes and dust.

Rubber – At a medium price range, natural rubber rug pads are a great choice for your hardwood floors. 100% natural rubber pads are made from tree sap, an environmentally-friendly alternative to the lower quality PVC rug pads. True rubber pads offer a solid grip to the flooring surface without causing damage.

Felt – Felt pads are a great way to add additional cushion to your rug. Felt pads work best on larger rugs which can help to anchor the pad down as it lacks a strong grip. Often made from recycled materials, 100% felt pads are also an environmentally-friendly option.

Felt/rubber hybrid – Felt and rubber rug pads are the highest quality and offer the best of both worlds. You get the benefit of a plush cushion underfoot, plus the gripping attributes of the rubber. And, of course, it’s an eco-friendly option.

When choosing pads for your rugs, always try to go with a high-quality option to prevent expensive, or even permanent, damage to your hardwood floors.