Stiletto Heels Ruin Floors

Stiletto heels might ruin your flooring.  We visited a Tampa investment firm today and saw the best (or, worst) example of the damage caused by stiletto heels.  The company's break room had a hand-scrapped hardwood which was severely dimpled in every walk path.   Skyscraper high heels may add appeal to the woman, but not to some flooring products.  Stiletto boots or stiletto pumps cause the same damage if their heels tapper to a small point.

Stiletto heels left an evident walk path in the hardwood around the corner.

Stiletto heels left an evident walk path in the hardwood around the corner.

Physics

Merriam-Webster defines a stiletto as "a slender dagger with a blade thick in proportion to its breadth." This historical definition gave birth to the description of stiletto heels near the early 1900s because of the thin dagger-shaped heel.  A 125-pound woman creates about 4 pounds per square inch (PSI) when standing on one flat foot.  But, the concentration of her weight increases to 2,000 pounds per square inch when fully resting on a 1/4-inch stiletto tip.  The risk to flooring increases by multiples if the stilettos have metal heel tips.  Shockingly, the 125-pound woman's distilled weight on a narrow heel far surpasses the naturally dispersed weight of a fully grown elephant.  The risk apparent from excessive PSI is also created by the concentrated weight on stools or rolling chairs with narrow tips or small points of contact.  (For this reason, most manufacturers of most flooring products require the use of chair mats.)  The same risk is created by heavy equipment resting on narrow legs.

Close View of Dimples and Dents Left by Stiletto Heels

Close View of Dimples and Dents Left by Stiletto Heels

Solution.

Sanding and refinishing would eliminate some of the lasting impressions sustained by the investment company, but sanding the hardwood floor would also eliminate the hand-scrapped contours and may cut through the hardwood's wear layer.  Full replacement is the only sure solution to the damage caused by strutting the office.

Ladies created a traffic pattern through a door by their stiletto heels.

Ladies created a traffic pattern through a door by their stiletto heels.

Flooring Selection

Just remember that a 6-inch lift may leave a 1/8-inch indentation if walking on some flooring types.  So, how do flooring products respond differently?

  • Carpet usually suffers no damage from stilettos, unless the metal tips have barbs which snag the yarn.
  • Ceramic tile, porcelain tile, and natural stone usually suffer no damage from stilettos, unless the concentrated weight of the heel (especially if a metal tip is present) chips or cracks the tile.
  • Hardwood floors respond differently depending upon the specie.  Hardwood floors milled of domestic teak with a Janka hardness rating of 1,155 will dent much easier than hardwood floors milled of Brazilian teak with a Janka hardness rating of 3,540.  (See Janka ball test.)  Hardwood never rebounds.
  • Resilient flooring products are by definition resilient ... at least to some degree.
    • Rubber flooring will usually resist long-term compression.  (The same is true of the more resilient sheet vinyls and luxury vinyls.)
    • Top-tier commercial LVT and LVP products have reached a static load resistance of 1,500 PSI, but most luxury vinyls fall far short of this specification.
    • VCT commonly possesses a static load tolerance of only 125 PSI.
    • Commercial-grade homogeneous sheet vinyl may offer 750 PSI static load resistance.
In summary, sky-high heels worn for a night on the town may leave unsightly dimples in the morning.  Ladies, you might want to traipse barefoot in your home if you own a more vulnerable flooring.

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