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 adhesive-backed 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 replaceable when the felt picks up a lot of grit. When the pads don’t stick, there could be several reasons. If the bottoms of your chair legs 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 ($3.98 for 16 square pads at Lowe’s). 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 one-inch diameter nail-on felt swivel glides from Shepherd Hardware Products is $1.88 at Home Depot.)
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, slip-ons, is 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.
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 “floorcloth” and you’ll find directions for making one yourself, or you can order one from artists who have revived the craft of making floorcoverings from canvas or other materials and paint.
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