Inspection of a metal glide reveals a metallic coating that becomes easily and permanently damaged by surface scratches leaving chards of metal protrusions that act like razor blades and slice into the floor’s surface with every twist, shift or move of the chair or table. Moisture from routine cleaning further complicates the problem leaving permanent rust stains on the floor’s surface when the cleaning water migrates under the protector and dwells for an extended period of time.
Plastic glides are hard and fragile resulting in broken remnants that contribute to severe flooring damage. Dirt and debris press into the surface of plastic protectors that can be more damaging than coarse sandpaper when the chair is repeatedly moved across the floor’s surface.
The rule for floor protector selection is simple: Hard floor protectors (plastic or metal) for soft-surface (carpeted) flooring and soft protectors (felt) for hard-surface floors.
Hard plastic and metal protectors quickly degrade resulting in permanent damage on hard surface floors that can seldom be reversed. In my opinion, neither of these are viable options. Felt is the best as it provides a soft material that glides easily across the floor and dirt and debris that becomes embedded in the felt, buries into the soft texture of the glide minimizing and often avoiding permanent or severe damage to the floor.
Since furniture floor protector pads are on the floor continuously, they can quickly degrade. Like automobiles they require routine care and maintenance to perform their best. Two situations arise with felt furniture floor protector pads that require ongoing attention from the end user.
First, embedded dirt and debris must be routinely removed and cleaned by vacuuming! Second, heavy moisture, as typically used for cleaning hard surface floors, becomes absorbed by felt protectors leaving the felt pads hard and coarse when dry. This coarse texture can scratch a hard surface floor. To avoid replacing felt furniture pads that become crusty due to moisture, take an extra step after vacuuming and briskly brush the pads with a small wire brush to soften the texture of the felt. These simple steps will add months of life to felt furniture pads before they require replacement.
Most important is a point person at the end user facility who is responsible for floor protector maintenance. This involves routinely checking felt pads and cleaning or replacing on a routine basis as needed. This schedule varies with the traffic and use in each, different, facility.