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My wife's office has solid hickory hardwood floors, and I'd like to protect the floor from her rolling office chair. What can be done to protect the floor?

Should I even be concerned about the chair damaging the floor?

  • 2
    They may not look fantastic, but have you considered a chair mat? – Doresoom Aug 13 '14 at 19:40
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    Are these really HARDWOOD floors? Are they laminate? Are they softwood? Laminates are pretty tolerant of rolling chairs, and are cheap & easy to repair. Softwood won't tolerate rolling chairs or high heels without getting marks. Hard real hardwood floors will tolerate either very well, but the finish may look scuffed with time. – TDHofstetter Aug 13 '14 at 20:17
  • If the chair wheels are too hard, or small diameter, a layer of duct tape around their circumference will lessen their impact on the floor. Replacing hard plastic or metal wheels w rubber is also an option, but will obviously be far more labor/cost intensive than tape. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 14 '14 at 14:46
  • @WayfaringStranger I think in this case, duct tape is not the answer. – Tester101 Aug 14 '14 at 15:52
  • @Tester101 Quite possibly, but some chairs do have wheels that are made of harder stuff than is desirable. If that's the case here, wheel modification could be helpful. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 14 '14 at 16:25

11 Answers 11

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In two old homes now I've shredded the wood floor under my chair, monster splinters eventually emerging. I work at home in semi-rural New Hampshire. I think they're very old pine floors, so softwood. I plan to try Shepherd Brand Urethane Casters after putty and repainting.

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From the manufacturer's site, "Nylon tread for carpeting, and urethane tread for hard floors." Much buzz on Amazon about these.

Edit: After months with the new casters there are no new paint flakes or splinters. I haven't repainted the floor yet, but it appears these casters will do the trick.

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I live in a house full of wood floors (engineered hardwood). If the floors are kept clean and the wheels of the chair also are kept clean, every little damage will ever happen to your floors. If your floors are perfectly smooth and any imperfection will bother you, I do recommend either a low pile or woven rug under the desk and chair. I say this, because if some sand or small rock gets between the chair caster and the floor it will mark it. You can always fill the small imperfection but a rug is a small insurance plan for that area of floor.

  • Well, the clean part is the hard part. I have cats and I am outdoors a lot, so there are enough sand and grit particles that it can cause a problem. Also, once the sand gets embedded in the plastic wheel of a chair its hard to get it out. – Tyler Durden Aug 14 '14 at 15:16
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Replacing your chair's casters can help. Most chairs come with hard nylon casters, but softer rubber/polyurethane/neoprene casters are less likely to scratch or damage your floor.

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I was initially worried about this, but I've had my office chair on hardwood for about 2 years without issue, with generally at least an hour to 4 hours use every day (and more when I occasionally work from home). It's a pretty typical chair with fairly hard plastic castors.

  • Same for me, I have my chair right on the oak floors and have seen no damage. That said using a mat or rug is better but I wouldn't say necessary. – James Aug 13 '14 at 20:25
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I would either get some sort of "mat" or area rug. There are some plastic mats that are sold without the plastic spikes. There are also 'floating vinyls" or fiber floors that come in rolls (often at Home Depot) and they can just go on top of floor without adhesive. You can cut them to size. Usually, their weight holds them down.

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I use something like this: http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/459806/Realspace-Bamboo-Chair-Mat-36-W/ Of course I have bamboo floors so it blends in.

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I would not use a plastic mat, as I did because a tiny piece of something got under it and I must have rolled over it a dozen times and it left a bunch of annoying marks in my beautiful hardwood floor. :(

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I would use some sort of sacrificial mat, either a pre-made mat or a section of some laminate flooring material to cover the area that you will be using the chair.

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The trouble is, no matter what you put down there, if it's a sunny room, your floor will age unevenly. I had one of those clear plastic mats down and when I removed it after a couple of years, a huge light spot was left behind. I have recently refinished the floor in this room and I'm reluctant to put anything down on the new floor--though maybe with the modern tools & chemicals it's fade-proof I don't know. But I think I have to expect some change of color over time. It's a very sunny room. Kept hoping I'd find something like casters with felt coated wheels. I had no luck. Maybe I should invent such a thing, Lol. Bet they'd sell well. My office chair is also terribly loud rolling across the floor.

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If you're really really into a solution here, you want a Flexible Glass Chair Mat.

It's that: glass you lay on the floor to protect it.

Just Google that term. The first results lead to solutions.

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The chair mat is the way to go. You have to use roofing tacks hammered into the corners to hold it down, otherwise it will slide around and be annoying.

Getting a mat is a good idea. If you don't do this what will happen is that dirt and sand particles adhere to the wheels of the chair and grind ruts in the wood creating bare spots.

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    Wait, to protect floors from damage, hammer tacks into the floor?!? – gregmac Aug 13 '14 at 23:15
  • If you don't the mat moves around. The tacks make a pretty small hole. – Tyler Durden Aug 13 '14 at 23:18
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    Caution. I used a plastic chair mat to "protect" my new hardwood floor from the chair wheels and the unavoidable dirt and grit. The underside of the mat was covered in little "knobby" grippers made from the same hard plastic. The result was my floor was protected from the chair; however, when I pulled up the mat to relocate my desk, the hardwood was totally damaged from each and every plastic knobby. Make sure the mat you purchase doesn't have grippers underneath. Also, make sure it is the right type of material. Over years, many types of rubber will "melt" and/or stick into the floor. – user24498 Aug 14 '14 at 14:04
  • Yes, it has to be a flat mat. Also, you want to get a thick one. – Tyler Durden Aug 14 '14 at 15:09
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    @Breezan, your mat was designed for carpet. They also sell mats for hard floors as well that are smooth on both sides. – diceless Aug 14 '14 at 15:13

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