The many prob­lems with floor pro­tec­tors

It can be tough to find a prod­uct that stays in place, but it’s worth the ef­fort

Ottawa Citizen - - HOME LIFE - JEANNE HU­BER

Here’s some ad­vice for a reader on what to do about floor pro­tec­tors that won’t stay in place.

Q We have pro­tec­tive cov­er­ings for the bot­toms of the legs of our kitchen chairs, but the prod­uct we use does not stay in place even with an ad­di­tional cush­ion un­der­neath. We tried glu­ing the pro­tec­tors in place, but that pre­sented an­other prob­lem when the slid­ers still came off and the glue stuck to the hard­wood floor. Also, the slid­ers are made of felt and have caused wear to the hard­wood. We have thought about us­ing a rug un­der the kitchen ta­ble but that would make clean­ing more dif­fi­cult. Do you have any ideas?

A Felt floor pro­tec­tors are a great — maybe the best — way to keep chair legs from scratch­ing a hard­wood floor, but only if the felt stays on and hasn’t picked up a lot of grit. Man­u­fac­tur­ers have come up with var­i­ous ways of hold­ing the felt in place: ad­he­sives, nails and other fas­ten­ers, and even flex­i­ble slip-ons. Each type has its ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages.

From the pic­ture you sent, it’s dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine your cur­rent so­lu­tion. The leg shown ap­pears to have a nail-on glide made of me­tal or with a me­tal band around plas­tic, topped with a felt or fuzzy pad. But fuzzy bits also ap­pear to be stuck to the bot­tom of the leg. Per­haps at one point your chairs were out­fit­ted with ad­he­sive­backed felt pads.

Mul­ti­ple lay­ers of pad­ding in­crease the risk that the lay­ers won’t stay on, so pick just one type.

Ad­he­sive-backed felt pads, the most com­mon op­tion, have the ad­van­tage of be­ing eas­ily re­place­able­when­the­felt­pick­su­palotof grit. When the pads don’t stick, there could be sev­eral rea­sons. Ifthe­bot­tom­so­fy­our­chair­legs have ad­he­sive residue or are gritty or oily, clean the sur­face first with de­na­tured al­co­hol. If the wood is splin­tered, per­haps be­cause a nail-on pro­tec­tor was once pried off care­lessly, use wood filler and sand it smooth once it dries. Old, dried-out pads and some cheap op­tions don’t stick well; try ones made by a com­pany noted for its re­search into ad­he­sives, such as Scotch ($6.48 for 16 square pads at wal­mart.ca; or $6.49 through ama­zon.ca). On chairs with square legs such as yours, square felt pads give a ti­dier look than round pads, although ei­ther shape func­tions just as well. If you use round pads or glides, the di­am­e­ter should be slightly smaller than the leg.

Some­times felt pads won’t stay on a spe­cific leg, even though they stick well to other legs. In this case, the chair also prob­a­bly wob­bles be­cause the prob­lem­atic leg is a bit too short or it’s cut so that it doesn’t sit flat against the floor. Re­move all of the pro­tec­tors and push a wooden shim un­der the er­rant leg un­til the chair no longer wob­bles. Then trace around the leg and cut the shim to fit. Glue it in place. Once the glue dries, add ex­tra mus­cle by in­stalling nail-on floor pro­tec­tors on all four legs. The nail and pad also will help hold the shim in place on the prob­lem­atic leg. When chair legs an­gle out (not the case on your chairs), swivel-type glides with felt pads work best. (A four-pack of oneinch di­am­e­ter nail-on felt swivel glides from Shep­herd Hard­ware Prod­ucts is $6.91 at ama­zon.ca.)

Nail-on pro­tec­tors come in two main types: with nails and with a short bit of round tub­ing that you ham­mer into the bot­tom of the chair leg. It’s im­por­tant to pre-drill for the nail type so that you don’t split the wood. In­stall the tub­ing type with a few taps of a ham­mer; no drilling. If you’ve pre­vi­ously used one type but the pro­tec­tors don’t stay on, try switch­ing to the other type. Or first fill the pre­vi­ous holes with wood filler strong enough to hold nails and screws once it cures. If even that doesn’t al­low you to at­tach nail-on pro­tec­tors se­curely, switch to a dif­fer­ent type. When nail-ons come loose, they can def­i­nitely scratch wood floors.

The third type of pro­tec­tor, slipons, are de­signed to get around the prob­lems of ad­he­sives and nails. De­pend­ing on the brand, these con­sist of a flex­i­ble sil­i­cone or PVC plas­tic sock with a felt pad as the sole. If you get slip-ons sized to fit your chair legs, they should stay on flaw­lessly.

All Glides sells PVC caps; ones for square legs 1¼-inch di­am­e­ter are $1.18 each. Among the sil­i­cone types, the MelonBoat Pro­tec­tors for square legs of 1¼ to 13/8 inches cost $26.99 for a pack­age of 16 on Ama­zon.

What­ever your so­lu­tion, you need to keep the felt free of grit or your floor will get scratched. Sweep, dust-mop or vac­uum the floor fre­quently. It also helps to reach un­der the legs pe­ri­od­i­cally to de­tect grit.

And if you con­clude that noth­ing short of cov­er­ing the wood will pro­tect your floor? One el­e­gant so­lu­tion that’s also easy to clean is an oil­cloth-type floor mat big enough to fit un­der your ta­ble and chairs. Search on­line for “floor cloth” and you’ll find di­rec­tions for mak­ing one your­self, or you can or­der one from artists who have re­vived the craft of mak­ing floor cov­er­ings from can­vas or other ma­te­ri­als and paint.

What­ever floor pro­tec­tor you choose for the legs of your chairs, clean the floor un­der the ta­ble fre­quently and check with your hands for dust and grit to pre­vent scratch­ing.

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