Will Rubber Backing Rugs Harm a Laminate Floor?

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Rugs can add aesthetic appeal to a laminate floor, but can cause stains if they have the wrong backing.
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A good rug can quickly redefine a room with minimal effort or cost and maximum results. Rugs come in a wide variety of materials, shades, textures and heights to choose from. That doesn't mean all rugs are good for putting down on the laminate flooring in your home. A carpet pad for laminate flooring or another floor protector can save the material from getting warped, scratched or otherwise damaged.

Laminate flooring is a common flooring choice because of its affordability and the wide range of options available. The flooring often replicates hardwood or stone and can be installed in squares, sections or simulated wood planks. Because laminate flooring is made of composite materials, it gives off gases and must breathe; rugs placed on laminate flooring must also breathe, or the rug back and the laminate floor surface may bond together.

Tip

A felt or carpet pad will protect a laminate floor from getting scratched or stained by fibers and dyes in rugs.

Rubber-Backed Rugs

The right area rug can add warmth and differentiate living areas in small spaces. But throwing a rug down with a rubber backing and leaving it on the laminate indefinitely can harm the flooring. Overtime, the rubber can leave little waffle marks on the laminate, according to RugKnots.

Rubber-backed rugs are coated with natural or synthetic rubber. Rubber is elastic and slip-resistant. Rubber creates a waterproof barrier between two surfaces, protecting the surface above the foundation surface.

Rubber-backed rugs are relatively easy to wash and create a safe, nonslip surface, but can harm a laminate floor. The rubber backing on rugs can undergo a chemical reaction when placed on top of a laminated floor, trapping gases beneath the rubber and discoloring the laminate surface.

Latex-Backed Rugs

Latex and rubber are often referred to as if they are the same material, but they aren't. Latex is a synthetic liquid that contains chemicals known as plasticizers. Rugs are often backed with latex to create a slip-resistant, waterproof surface beneath the rug.

This same waterproofing eliminates the rug's ability to breathe. Latex-backed rugs can adhere to a laminated or vinyl floor surface and leave behind a mess of sticky residue or chunks of rug backing when you try to remove the rug.

Waterproof Rugs for Laminate Floors

Rugs on the laminate can be a great way to soak up water that is tracked in from outside or the accidental spill. However, placing a rubber- or latex-backed rug on a laminate floor traps wetness beneath the rubber. This can cause a bubble to form on the floor because moisture gets trapped between the synthetic materials forming the "wood" or "stone" and the coating or finish with which the floor is laminated.

The backed rugs prevent the floor surface from drying naturally. In addition to moisture bubbles, rubber- or latex-backed rugs can cause white or yellow discoloration resulting from chemical reactions between the rubber or latex and the laminate on the floor. Waterproof rugs for laminate floors should include a felt or carpet pad to ensure that the laminate is protected from the rubber or latex along the back of the rug or woven into its layers.

Alternative Rug-Backing Solutions

The best rug pad for laminate floors consists of natural fibers, such as jute, grasses, bamboos, cotton or wool. Home Depot suggests only using laminate-approved vinyl rug underlays. Any rug can be used, regardless of the factory backing, if you place a dense felt pad between the rug and the laminate floor.

Placing a felt pad beneath rubber- or latex-backed rugs and beneath any nonnatural fiber rug allows air to circulate between the rug and the laminate flooring. Felt rug pads are available at carpet and home improvement stores in a variety of precut sizes or can be purchased from a bolt and cut to your measurements.

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Louise Harding

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.