Let’s start with the tape backing felt furniture glides, or more commonly known as “sticky felts”. The main reason why sticky felts are so popular is that they fit right under the furniture footing and are relatively well dissimulated. The problem is that very few adhesive felt pads actually stay onto the furniture leg to protect your floors. The issue is that most of them use very low quality double face tape as an adhesive. As many of you know, when a single sticky felt falls off it will either leave adhesive streaks on your ceramic tiles or leave big gauges in your hardwood floors. The fact is that if a felt falls off you now have 33% more weight being applied to that feltless leg because the chair is now lopsided due to the missing felt.
Another downside is that essentially all felt pad floor protector products out there (until now) have used either low density polyester or some other type of synthetic fiber. Now why should you care about that? Well other than the fact that they are not very environmentally friendly, the fluffy low density polyester felts pad down very quickly to a paper thin disk. Within a few weeks you no longer have a felt floor protector but a plastic glide under your chairs (if they are still on). Do you remember what plastic glides do to your floors?
It may seem like I’m saying self-stick felt pads are bad, I’m not, I’m just saying you can’t use them on everything. The double face tape performs very poorly on porous materials such as wooden legs. They also perform poorly on uneven surfaces. Here is a bit of physics for you. Do you remember this “the smaller the surface contact area the higher the shear force”? Needless to say the double face tapes don’t resist to well to shear forces and fall off easily.
So to make a long story short no adhesive felt pad on the market will stay on a ½” diameter bar stool leg very long. However, common sticky felts would do fine on a large 3” diameter sofa leg that never moves. The other important fact to note about felt floor protection, as with anything else “you get what you pay for”. It doesn’t make sense to get the cheap dollar store felts to protect a 25,000$ hardwood you just put in. I will discuss later the differences between my adhesive felts and the rest of the sticky felts currently available in retail.
Finally time to discuss the felt based floor protectors. There are 2 major types of felt floor protectors, actually there are a lot more than that, but for the purpose of this categorisation, we will agree that are two main categories of felt floor protectors and I will further break these categories into sub categories.
The first category is the adhesive type felt protectors (the classic sticky felt that everyone knows) and the non-adhesive type. In the non-adhesive type we have 2 sub categories, the ones which are installed using hardware and the one that do not.
Which is better and what should you use for which application. As you already know I invented a new felt floor protector product line called Flexi-Felt and Flexi-Felt Clear. Now that is not to say that everything else out there is no good. There are a lot of really disappointing products out there, but some are pretty good. As I said before you just need to know what to buy for which type of furniture and flooring you have. I will navigate through the pros and cons of each type of felt floor protector. I will also walk you through the though process that got me to invent the Flexi-Felt, as you will see there is nothing else like it in its category.
Let’s discuss the rubber floor protectors. These types of floor protectors as you may have guessed are not used to help slide your furniture. In fact they do quite the opposite. They are very effective in keeping furniture from moving on slick surfaces. They are used for cane tips or crutches to prevent catastrophes on hard marble flooring. You may have a coffee table that you wish would stay in its place, or folding chairs that easily slides from under you. Along with their anti-slip properties, rubber floor protectors are also used in environments where vibrations might be an issue.
You would see these under an air compressor, table saw, etc. Remember that you want to get a floor protector that is proportional to the size and especially weigh of the object it is supporting. You might also need to consider vibration or type of vibration to get the proper footing. A low density rubber will dampen vibrations quite well however it will not be as durable as a high density rubber.
Of course aesthetics is not a major concern in an industrial application however for home use it might be an issue since rubber chair leg covers are rarely in a color that matches your furniture. They are typically found in beige or black color.
I have seen some people buying metal glides wanting to get something more durable than the plastic glides. The plastic glides are softer than metal glides and as such wear down much more quickly. Before you chose to buy metal glides make sure you have considered all the variables. There is a much smaller selection of metal glide so it is more difficult to get the right size for the right furniture. You cannot use metal glides on all kinds of carpeting. On low pile commercial carpeting metal glides are great, they glide better than cheap plastic glides and they are much more durable. HOWEVER, there are a few caveats before you decide on getting metal glides. Most of them are steel glides and will rust very quickly if the carpet gets wet or if they are in a high humidity environment. That being said, metal glides should not be used in a restaurant unless the carpet is rust colored. You can get some that are made of stainless steel but they are much more expensive and typically not available at a local hardware store. NEVER ever use metal glides for any other surface even ceramic as they will mark and scratch your floors with the very first slide. The other issue with metal glides is that they are notoriously prone to rip through carpeting once they use through the thin metal base. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you inspect the glides in high traffic areas regularly and replace them if they are no longer perfectly smooth.
I wanted to officially start off my by sharing some information that I’ve learned regarding floor protectors. There are 4 categories of floor protectors: plastic, metal, rubber and felt. They are all great when used in the right environment. The problem is most people use the wrong protectors for the wrong flooring.
Each category or material has distinct features. I will provide a more comprehensive description of each throughout the next few weeks and today, I will talk about the plastic floor protectors. The plastic protectors are typically used to help furniture glide better on carpeting. You should avoid using plastic protectors on wood floors for furniture that is heavy or frequently moving as the plastic protectors are very hard and will damage your flooring. Although they won’t scratch ceramic tiles they will leave a plastic mark or streak if the furniture you are moving is heavy.
Going back to carpeting, you have to keep in mind that the heavier the furniture and the thicker the carpet the wider should be your glide. The wider glide will distribute the weight of the furniture more evenly. If the glide is too small it will simply dig into your carpet and be pretty useless. Using a proper sized glide will make your furniture much easier to move and also prevent your carpeting from being permanently padded down where your furniture footing is.
If you intend on moving your furniture frequently you might want to look into getting Teflon glides as they offer less friction on carpet. Although they are typically blue in color make sure to look for Teflon on the package as there are cheap knock offs that are blue without Teflon. If you are unsure remember that you get what you pay for, if the price is too good to be true it probably is.