Will Rubber Backing Rugs Harm a Laminate Floor?

Laminate flooring has become a common flooring choice because of its affordability and the wide range of options available. Laminate flooring is a composite of synthetic materials glued together with adhesives. 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 will bond together.

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Rugs can add aesthetic appeal to a laminate floor, but can cause stains if they have the wrong backing.

Rubber-Backed Rugs

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, non-slip 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.

Laminate Floor Damage and Staining

Placing a rubber- or latex-backed rug onto a laminate floor traps wetness beneath the rubber, allowing 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.

Alternate Rug-Backing Solutions

The best rug choices for laminate flooring consist of natural fibers, such as jute, grasses, bamboos, cotton or wool. 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.