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It is a well-known fact, in the flooring business, that rubber backing rugs, area rugs and mats will discolour many flooring types. This well-documented bit of Intel is rarely known outside the flooring business. Homeowners need to know the dangers of purchasing rubber, rubberized or “latex backed” floor décor.
Rubber, whether man made or “natural latex”, is a common anti-slip additive to many forms of area rugs and mats. These rubber products contain “plasticizers” that leach into the floor causing discolouration. The floors are risk for this discolouration are the most common: hardwood, vinyl, linoleum (brand name: Marmoleum), epoxy coatings and cork.
Rubberized products leave behind dark yellow/orange stains that are often described as “tabacco” or “nicotine” stains. They are often permanent. Some hardwood floors (solid hardwood) can be repaired by performing a full sand and refinish, but this is an expensive lesson most people would prefer not to have to learn.
As consumers, we forget or are unaware of our floor’s performance concerns. To us, they are “floors” and should perform like stone or concrete without any concerns for decades. Sadly, this is not always the case (unless of course you have ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles). The common floor finishes require some form of pampering and forethought. The most common area of complaint is floor rugs.
Not all area rugs are created equal. Low-end, bargain priced floor rugs can be fun to own, but they carry a heavy price if they damage a floor. Consumers should look for the “Acceptable for Use with Hardwood” tag. This tag is seen in mid to high end flooring and décor stores. The tag indicates the rug has been produced without the use of “plasticizers” (aka. “rubber”).
To homeowners, we say “Know Thy Floor”. To retailers, “Tag your rugs”. As the owner or keeper of the floor, it is up to the consumer to look for the tag that indicates the area rug or mat is acceptable for use with hardwood. Without this tag, you run the risk of incurring expensive repairs or, in the case of vinyl, cork, linoleum and epoxy coated flooring, full replacement.