Latex Rug Backing Stuck to Floor

I recently had a client call me for advice.  She had purchased a seagrass carpet (not from us).  She explained that the latex backing on the rug had disintegrated and had stuck to the floor.  My thinking was this was a relatively minor issue that might require that some dust be swept or vacuumed.  Was I ever wrong!  Here’s a picture of the damaged floor:

Latex rug backing damaged the wood floor.

The latex backing on this seagrass rug has damaged the wood floor.

The wood floor is absolutely gorgeous, except where it is damaged.  What a shame.  The rug is beyond saving.  I immediately had two thoughts:

  1. How do we fix this wood floor?
  2. What can be done to prevent this from happening.

If this should happen to you, this is what I suggested

Removing the Latex Backing that is Stuck to the Wood Floor

  1. Use a plastic scraper to remove as much latex as possible without vigorously scraping.  I have a plastic scraper we use to clean dinnerware at home that has rounded edges.  Something like that sounds perfect for this.
  2. Apply a solvent to the latex rubber to soften it.  When we find a solvent that softens a material, the material may be softened for a while, but then the solvent evaporates and the material will reharden.  So leaving a solvent on for “several days” does no good.  Usually about 15 minutes or so is good.
  3. Assuming we’ve found a solvent to soften the material, use the plastic scraper again to remove the latex material.
  4. So, which solvent should you use?  Mineral spirits are usually (but not always) safe for floors.  I’d start with that.  If that does not work, then I’d try denatured alcohol next.
  5. BEFORE USING ANY SOLVENT, always test the solvent in an inconspicuous area of the floor first, to be certain it will not affect the finish.  We do not want to remove, soften, or haze the existing finish.  Do not proceed until you are certain that the solvent you are considering will not damage your floor.
  6. Once the latex material has been removed, one last swipe with a clean rag or towel and a little of the (tested for safeness) solvent can help restore the floor’s luster.

All of this may be for nought.  We’ll know fairly soon if we are successfully removing the latex backing that is damaging the floor.  If not, then the floor may need to be sanded and refinished.

How Do We Prevent This?

The Wood Floor Covering Association (WFCA) does not recommend putting anything over your wood floor with a solid rubber or latex backing.  They don’t breathe, and condensation can accumulate under the non-porous material and damage the finish.  Non-slip rug paddings are made with ventilation so this is not an issue for non-slip products.

A quality felt rug padding would have been a small investment to protect the floor.

Our client acknowledged this and added in response: “As you see, this is an incredible mess. In reading the labeling that comes with the carpet, it recommends using padding, but it doesn’t explain why the recommendation is made. I thought padding was to make it softer to walk on and prevent slippage. Do you think the average person would expect this type of disintegration would happen without a more specific warning?”

No.  The average person would not expect that type of disintegration and damage.  I’m in the rug business, and I wouldn’t expect that either.  Even given the recommendation of the WFCA.  Even given the label on the rug that “recommends” a rug pad.  (It does not say a rug pad is required).  This is a defective product.

This seagrass rug is the type of product that is commonly sold by catalog retailers that import cheaply made Chinese products.  The initial savings can potentially cost hundreds of dollars in damages, stress, and aggravation.  Our client probably did not buy this product for price, but looks. And if she knew that there is a difference in quality, and what the difference is, the small additional cost for a quality product would be negligible to her.

So how do you, a consumer, know the difference?  You can’t be an expert in everything.  So here are some guidelines:

  • If you want to buy a rug, purchase it from someone who sells rugs.  They are specialists in that.  Catalogs and store that sell “everything under the sun” can not possibly be experts or knowledgeable about everything they sell.  This is true for any product.
  • Manufacturers of quality products are proud to put their name on it.  Cheap imports often hide behind the anonymity afforded by being in a foreign land, using a different language, and not putting the manufacturer’s name prominently on the product.  This does not mean that products that are not made in the U.S.A. are not good quality.  There are many quality manufacturers around the globe.  But see if they put their name on it.  That’s often telling.

I don’t know the brand of this seagrass rug.  I didn’t ask if it had one.  There is always the possibility that it was made by a maker with a good reputation that just had something go wrong.  But again, a maker with a good reputation will stand behind the product.  If you don’t even know who made it, it can be more difficult to get service.

Close up of defective latex backing.

Closeup of latex backing stuck to a wood floor.

 

 

20 thoughts on “Latex Rug Backing Stuck to Floor

  1. Kerri-Ann

    Hi Lee, we experienced the exact same issue with our latex backed seagrass area rug backing which somehow, over the course of a few years appeared to have bonded to our natural oak wood floors (note the floors have 9 coats aluminum oxide finish). Fortunately we were able to restore them back to their original condition: We pulled up the whole rug and the backing stayed completely adhered to the hardwood, just like your pictures. To restore the floor involved two steps. Step one involved using a paint scraper (plastic at first but once we realized the metal one wouldn’t scrape the wood we switched to that) and holding a hair dryer about 3-4 inches above the floor, the latex melted and peeled off. It was tedious work and I recommend ventilating the room well and wearing a mask since the fumes from the melted latex may not be healthy. Once the latex was peeled off, The glue residue remained and made the wood floor appear as if the shine was ruined. Step two, we were able to scrub the glue off with soap (no water, just soap straight up) using a lot of elbow grease and a plastic iron-handle scrub brush. Note that for scrubbing the glue residue, we tried numerous products like goo gone, mineral spirits, floor cleaners, soaps etc… Low and behold the product with best results was an Eco friendly dish detergent. Any leftover soapy film was easily wiped away with warm water soaked cloth. Our wood floors look brand new and was such a relief to not have to replace or repair them.

    Reply
    1. Terry Malone

      Kerri-Ann,

      That is encouraging to read your post! We have the exact same issue. How have the floor held up since then? Did the “pad impressions” ever make their way back or were they gone forever after using the dish soap? By dish soap you mean the liquid Dawn/Joy (eco equivalent) or dishwasher soap?

      Thanks for the help and encouragement! I thought we were going to have to resurface the entire floor, but I will certainly try your method!!

      Terry

      Reply
  2. Michelle

    Thank you for posting solutions for removing latex from hardwood. I am trying to remove the sticky glue that is left. I am going to try mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. The two seagrass rugs I purchased were from Pottery Barn. I have sent an image of the damage to their corporate office and I’m waiting for their response. In the meantime they sold me one of their standard rug pads which I am apprehensive about using as the felt is backed with some kind of rubber/latex. I am looking for some advice on rug pads.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Lee Pelletier Post author

      Hi, Michelle. A rug pad sold for the purpose of padding a rug should not be a problem. We have rug pads with rubber backs that do not damage the floor. So far, we have found only people that have natural fiber rugs like seagrass or sisal with latex backings have been affected by the rubber adhering to the floor. We have never personally experienced this, and we have a LOT of clients. Good luck.

      Reply
  3. Laura

    What a nightmare. This is exactly what has happened in my living room. Mine is a seagrass & sisal rug from Pottery Barn. The store has offered to replace or refund in store credit, once I bring in the defect rug. However, the time, effort and expense in cleaning the floor (actually both living and dining room floors, as I had moved the rug a couple years ago, didn’t deal with it then, as I figured it would be an easy clean up some day down the road) are far and away much higher than the value of the rug. I have tried Krud Kutter, w/minimal effect, and better results with WD-40, but still requiring substantial elbow grease in scraping. It is going very slowly. I will try these other solutions mentioned above as well. Unfortunately, my wood floors are pine, and they dent and gouge very easily. The next owner of this old home will probably want to completely refinish them. Hoping I won’t have to – yet.

    Reply
  4. Martha

    Hi,
    I had the same issue with a rug from Pottery Barns. The rug melted into the wall to wall carpet and I am not able to clean it. I contacted Pottery Barn since I bought the rug from them and they claimed they don’t sell that product and refused to pay for the damage or to replace the rug. Not only that but the insurance company representative was very nasty towards me. This product is hazardous and could probably ignite. I am going to begin an investigation and involve the local consumer TV channel consumer investigators..

    Reply
  5. Stacey Anderson

    We are facing the exact same issue and damage from the same type of rug we bought from Pottery Barn! Ugh! Ruined our wood floors!

    Reply
  6. Mark

    Me to Potter Barn Seagrass Sisal = 100% chinese crap Off to buy some mineral spirits and plastic scrub brushes. I am worried about the floor looking like the time my son surprised me by washing our new car with a Brillo pad. He was so proud and I thanked him for a job well done. In this case Pottery Barn sucks I have read the label 3 times and there is no warning about this issue.

    Reply
  7. Mark

    Update: Goo Be Gone handles the soft latex but hours and hours of elbow grease and replacing rough textured white rags frequently. Thats only layer one. The next layer was a hardened glue or shellack type substance. I am talking 20 pimples of it per square inch. I used straight Acetone. I used rubber gloves and more white rough rags and worked at it manually square inch by square inch full elbow grease and in a well ventilated area. Acetone smell was over powering so ventilation was required. Then I washed everything down with wet mop type swifter, afterward I used a dry swifter and sprayed a laminate cleaner polisher. All back to norma like newl. I think the investment in the high end laminate we bought saved the day. I was surprised the Acetone did not hurt the laminate. BUT I am one worn out 63 y/o. Now the honey dew list is done and tomorrow is Sunday football and I will enjoy seeing the nice luster of my wood floor. I do not to replace the area carpet but seems it is a decorating thing. Any suggestions for a 12 X 12 area rug in a seagrass type look. This is in our beach house in Hawaii and I think the humidity may have been the a contributing factor. The buyer for Pottery Barn should be fired and I can’t imagne Pottery Barn isn’t aware of this. As I said I have the label off the carpet and it never says anything but do not steam clean. I wont complain to Pottery Barn but they have lost a customer for life and this will come up in search engines. I know it is just profit driven like Matel let China use leaded paint on kids toys or baby formulas with poison. Makes me wonder what other gasses this carpet was releasing while we owned it. I am sure some of you have read about the laminate flooring form Lumbar Liquidators….if not see what that manufacturing process does to peoples health Vs the floor. Supposedly our laminate was of Canadian manufacturing.

    Reply
    1. "kath"

      Mark … I have the same hardened glue issue, and it led me to these informative posts ~ thanks Lee, Mark & all others! placed a small wooden (bamboo?), slatted (approx 1″ slats) stenciled rug on a stained concrete floor and now also have tiny dots of very hard glue all over the concrete in mid-room. The adhered glue dots pulled along some stretched fragments of a cloth backing off the rug as I pulled it. These dots are 1/4″ to 1/2″ apart in this damaged area. These blue dots stuck where any weight was placed on the rug, such as walking by or sitting in the chair where rug was situated. I have three other of these slatted rugs, but none have this backing, or the problem. There was NO WARNING about using (or not) on any type of flooring.
      I have unsuccessfully tried a number of several of the products noted by those above, but do want to give your acetone, Kerri-Ann’s warm air method, and/or Lee’s light steam suggestion a try, as well.
      My problem seems small when learning about all these others. Thankfully I have some of my contractor’s liquid wax to re-apply if remedies dull it, and can also mix colors & paint small scuffed/damaged color areas. (I always have various paints as I am an “artist/painter” … ).

      Reply
  8. Mark

    PS thank for letting me vent. Next time I want flooring or carpetin I will use a professional carpet or flooring company.

    Reply
    1. Lee Pelletier Post author

      My advise for tile does not change. I would try other solvents (mineral spirits, denatured alcohol), but be sure to test each one on an inconspicuous area first to be sure it does not affect the glaze (or the grout). If that and elbow grease is not doing the trick, then I would suggest contacting a local company that does tile and grout cleaning. The steam from their steam cleaners may be enough to soften this material so they can remove it.

      In any case, we are sorry to hear you have this problem. It is amazing how many people have been affected by this.

      Reply
  9. Marie

    Im dealing with this exact same thing and I’m so afraid of the health issues that might be caused from cleaning the dust from the deteriorated latex and everything.

    Reply
    1. Lee Pelletier Post author

      About 8 to 17% of people have latex sensitivities. And that sensitivity is only to natural latex (which contains proteins that people react to) and not synthetic latex. There is no telling what type of latex was used on your rug.

      If you are concerned, you can wear a painter’s or dust mask to prevent breathing in the dust or particles. You can also wear gloves so you do not come into direct contact with the material.

      Reply
  10. "kath"

    Thanks so much, Lee/Pelletier Rug for hosting these very informative posts regarding removal of latex/adhesive/hardened glue from various floor surfaces. Your expertise and suggestions are very much appreciated.

    Reply
  11. Rita

    I have not noticed anything about laminate flooring. Had the same problem and got most of it off with a plastic scraper, however, there are still some spots that just will not scrape off. This is in my living room. I will have to say that I bought a rug (sisal) from Pottery Barn for hallway which is well traveled, more so than living room, and have not had a problem. But is there any product that I can safely use in the living room laminate to remove the residue.

    Reply
  12. Mata

    My Ralph Laren sea grass rugs are not sticking to the hardwood floor but flaking a lot. Guess I’ll have to throw all 3 out unless I can get the backing off. The funny thing is that my Silver tea service tarnishes in a week and I found out desinagrating latex will cause that problem.

    Reply

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