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The Best Area Rug Pads for Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are great but many times we like something soft under our feet. Area rugs are a great option for having that softness and hardwood floors without having to do wall-to-wall flooring. But area rugs will need a pad underneath when used on a hardwood floor. Today we will examine what the best area rug pads for hardwood floors are and why.

Hardwood floors are a big investment so what you choose to go on top of them is very important. Yes, that means the area rugs but also the area rug pads which will come in direct contact with your hardwood floors.

You can save yourself a lot of time (and money) by choosing the right area rug for your hardwood floors.

A piano foot pedal on a colorful area rug with text overlay.

*This post contains affiliate links. For more details see my full disclosure.

If you are impatient and don’t want to read any more about rug pads then you can go right to my favorite rug pad that is available on Amazon.

Why do you need an area rug pad?

Safety– This is the most important reason to use an area rug pad. Some rugs can slip around on hardwood floors and the rug pad will keep it in place so no one will slip and fall. For this reason alone you should definitely have a rug pad under that area rug.

Protection – Area rugs can damage some hardwood floor finishes so if you plan to use one it’s a good idea to protect those hardwoods and use an area rug pad.

Rug Preservation – An area rug pad can protect the area rug by keeping the backing of the area rug from breaking down from wear and tear. This is especially true on hand-knotted rugs.

Comfort – This one is a given. Adding a rug pad makes the area rug thicker and gives you more comfort when walking on them.

Types of Area Rug Pads

Polyvinyl-based (PVC) – Most inexpensive area rug pads are made with inexpensive materials, especially PVC products. These products sometimes don’t react well with floors that have a polyurethane coating and can cause discoloring in the floors. They also can give off odors that are not safe for indoor air quality.

Synthetic Latex – These types of rug pads work great at first but are made with clay materials that can break down. So for the long term, this type of rug pad is not ideal.

100% Natural Rubber – These rug pads are more mid-line priced and are a much better product than those made with PVC. Many offer a non-stick grip to keep area rugs from sliding.

100% Felt – These are often made of recycled materials so are an excellent eco-friendly option. They don’t have a non-stick grip so work best in larger area rugs which will weigh down so they won’t slide. This option offers the most comfort as it is the thickest area rug pad.

Felt/Rubber Hybrid – This is the best of both worlds. The felt in the pad offers maximum comfort under foot but the rubber offers the non-stick grip so the rug won’t slide around.

Can cheap area rug pads ruin hardwood floors?

Cheap area rug pads are often imported from overseas. While you might be temped by their inexpensive price tag don’t be fooled by the inferior product.

Often these products from overseas are made with inferior products that can give off toxic fumes which can be harmful to you and your family.

These cheap products also have a slip-resistant coating which might sound great but they don’t react well with the sealer on hardwood floors. They can cause the floor coating to become foggy or discolored.

Since the real investment here are the hardwoods then it really makes sense to spend a few extra dollars on a quality rug pad to keep from having a major mess on your hands. Saving money on a cheap rug pad might result in you having to have your hardwood floors refinished down the road and that can cost a ton!

So in this case, you get what you pay for. Go with the higher quality to protect those floors!

A rug pad on hardwood floors with text overlay.

What is the best material for area rug pads if you have hardwood floors?

Make sure you choose a material that is made for area rugs and not wall-to-wall carpeting. There is a difference in what they are made of and you will want to make sure you choose the right one.

There are three types of area rug pads you should choose. We discussed them earlier but I will mention them again.

  • Felt
  • Natural Rubber
  • A combo of felt and natural rubber

As long as your rug pad is made of one of these materials then you should have a pad that will be comfortable, keep your area rug from sliding, and won’t hurt your hardwood floors.

What size area rug pad should you choose?

This depends on how big your area rug is. I highly recommend making sure your rug pad is one or two inches smaller than your area rug and no smaller. You will notice by feel if the pad is smaller and the area rug can cause damage to your hardwood floors along the perimeter if there is too much space between the two.

For example, if your area rug is 8×10 then your rug pad should be at least 7’10″x9’10”.

If you make your rug pad the same size as your area rug then you might get frustrated trying to make sure they line up exactly. You won’t want that rug pad showing so make sure it’s slightly smaller on each side.

What thickness rug pad should you choose?

This is really personal preference. I like to have a nice rug pad under my area rug so that there is more softness underfoot. But it’s totally up to you.

Best Area Rug Pads for Hardwood Floors

The best area rug you can choose is a combo of felt and natural rubber. You can purchase this type of area rug pad from most rug stores but I personally love to get mine from Amazon.

Amazon carries pretty much anything anymore and the Gorilla Grip Felt and Natural Rubber Rug Pad is the perfect area rug pad. It has the perfect combination of materials for keeping your area rug from damaging your floors, is cushy under your feet, and it won’t slip and slide around.

Another thing I really like about this product is it’s made in the USA so you can feel better about the materials being used in the manufacturing process.

Gorilla Grip Felt and Natural Rubber Stay in Place Slip Resistant Rug Pad, 1/4” Thick, 5x8 FT Protective Padding for Under Area Rugs, Cushioned Gripper Pads, Carpet Runners, Hardwood Floors Protection
  • THE ORIGINAL CUSHION + GRIP: unlike other brands that only have felt, our rug pads also feature a durable rubber backing; constructed with ultra thick...
  • SLIP-RESISTANT NATURAL RUBBER BACKING: ultra durable natural rubber underside helps prevent rug bunching and sliding, even over frequently visited areas of...
  • THICK AND SOFT CUSHIONING: thick cushioning adds extra comfort helping to make rugs cozier and softer under foot; incredibly plush, pad makes even the...
  • SAFE FLOOR PROTECTION: perfect for most hard floors including hardwood, tile and cement; our pads help protect floors from damage and everyday wear and...
  • CUSTOMIZABLE AND WORKS WITH MOST RUG TYPES: available in most popular sizes for easy installation, pad can also be trimmed for unique sizes and shapes;...

Another great thing about this product is you can get it in a variety of different sizes to fit whatever area rug you have. Also, it’s shipped right to your door, and who doesn’t love that!

Other flooring and rug posts you might like:

A teacher and students sitting on an area rug in a classroom with text overlay.

As a licensed Real Estate Agent and an avid home decorator, I strive to give my clients the very best I can when it comes to staging, selling, and decorating their homes. I have lots of experience with paint color choices and love to DIY my home so I can have everything just the way I want it. I share my ideas and projects with the world in the hopes that I can help others have their homes just the way they want as well.

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