Do Tap Shoes Ruin Hardwood Floors? (Can You Practice At Home?)

Tapping is a type of percussive dance, in which a performer makes musical sounds with shoes or other objects on the floor. In order to do that, you need metal taps affixed to your shoes. But will they ruin your hardwood floors?

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To avoid damaging wood floors, tap dancers often practice on rubber pads or other durable surfaces. These pads are available at most dance supply shops and can be used in place of a hardwood floor when practicing at home.

Do Tap Shoes Ruin Hardwood Floors?

Tap shoes won’t ruin hardwood floors if worn sparingly. Tap shoes are designed to not damage hardwood floors, but the metal plating on the bottom of the shoe will eventually cause scratches, nicks, and other types of damage.

Walking in tap shoes on a hardwood floor shouldn’t cause damage, but tap dancing is more detrimental. Other factors, like the hardness of the wood used for the floor, the type of tap shoes, and if the hardwood floor is sealed or not, can affect how much damage tap shoes will do to the floor.

Tap shoes are not overly hard on your floors. If you are worried about your floors, there are a few things you can do. Let’s find out what they are…

Where Can I Practice Tap Dancing at Home?

You can tap dance on just about any hard surface, but the best places to practice tap dancing at home are on hardwood or vinyl floors. However, over a period of time, you may ruin the floors by doing so.

  1. You can improvise by using a sheet of plywood available from your local hardware store. Use plywood that is at least half an inch thick, and attach foam mats to the underside to prevent slipping and provide cushioning for your feet and knees. You can either dance directly on the plywood or finish it with laminate or vinyl.
  2. If you have an old rug lying around that needs new life breathed into it, lay it on top of your floor before you start tapping away. This might dull the sound a little bit more than you’d like, but it can also help to protect your floor.
  3. You can also buy dancing pads that work for all types of dancing including tap dancing and they protect your floors.

Dancing Disc Professional Marley Competition Floor for Dancer on The Go 3 Sizes 30 Inches 24 Inches 16 Inches

Can You Practice Tap Without Shoes?

While having proper tap shoes can help improve your performance, you can learn the basic techniques of tap in almost any kind of shoe.

Tap Techniques Don’t Require Tap Shoes: Tap shoes have particularly weighted and placed metal plates – the taps – which make a uniform sound when clicked against a hard surface. That being said, you don’t need tap shoes to learn basic tap dancing moves.

You can learn to tap dance using a regular dress or jazz shoes (depending on your preference) and transition to proper taps later on. You can even improvise “tap” shoes by attaching coins to your regular shoes (although this isn’t going to produce the same kind of sound).

Can Any Shoes Be Tap Shoes?

Tap shoes are a different style of shoe than most shoes. They are not just any shoes that you dance or exercise in. Some shoes can be used while tap dancing, but they aren’t ideal. When you are learning to tap dance, you want your shoes to be made specifically for dance, and most athletic shoes aren’t designed for this purpose.

Tap footwear needs a different kind of arch support than a standard casual shoe does–it’s actually a pretty tough arch for the amount of flexibility it needs. Without proper arch support, your feet won’t be able to handle the amount of repetition and stamina necessary for this dance form.

Tap shoes should be comfortable, durable, and flexible so that the dancer can achieve proper technique. After all, there is no sense in learning to tap dance if it is painful or uncomfortable. You want to focus on your dancing, not on your feet or your shoes.

Tap dancing shoes have a metal plate attached under the toe so that when the dancer taps their toe on the ground during a routine, a clicking sound is produced. The clicking noise is what gives tap dancing its name because it sounds like someone tapping on something with their fingernail. The plate under the toe also helps the dancer create stronger and more accurate click sounds while they’re dancing.

What Are the Advantages of Using Tap Shoes?

Tap shoes give your feet more support than regular shoes do, which makes it easier to keep time and maintain proper technique.

 

Capezio Women's Tap Shoes, Black Patent, 8.5

 

Tap shoes are traditionally made of hard leather. A good pair will last you several years. That’s because they don’t bend much. A tap shoe is made stiff so that the toe and heel won’t curl up when you tap on the floor, and so you can get the toe effect by tapping with your heels as well as your toes.

Because tap dancers do a lot of work on concrete floors, it’s important to have a shoe that won’t wear out too quickly or get damaged by the floor.

Some people use soft-soled dance shoes for tap class. These are often cheaper than leather tap shoes. But they’re not very good for dancing on concrete, and they can damage the floor of your dance studio if you’re not careful. Some dance studios won’t allow them at all.

Do Tap Shoes Hurt?

Properly fitting tap shoes don’t hurt to wear initially, but because of the lack of shock absorption in the shoes plus the metal plates on the bottom, extensive wear of tap shoes can cause foot and ankle pain.

Tap shoes are not meant for everyday wear, or to be worn outside. These specialty shoes should only be used when tap dancing, otherwise, the risk of foot pain or ankle pain is elevated.

Tap dancing can cause stress fractures in the foot, so wearing high-quality, well-fitting tap shoes is imperative. Look for padded tap shoes to minimize pain.

What Shoes Should I Wear to Tap Class?

Ideally, you’ll want to wear the tap shoes specified by your instructor to your tap class. In the event that you can’t get your shoes on time, regular jazz shoes can work temporarily to help you practice.

Many tap classes have specific requirements for the shoes needed, down to the color and specific kind of tap. Check with your instructor to see what their specifications are and if they have any recommendations for suppliers. If they do, be sure to have your shoes fitted professionally before class begins.

If you can’t get your shoes on time – for instance, if they have been ordered but haven’t arrived yet – then you can opt to wear light, appropriately-fitting jazz shoes to class in the interim. They won’t have the same feel but will be much closer and easier to transition from than regular shoes.


In summary, while tap-dancing shoes are actually designed to be used on hardwood floors there is the possibility of damage and it is best practice to use something to protect your floors such as the dancing pad mentioned earlier, or an old rug, or a piece of plywood.

You may also be interested in… Why Can’t I Wear Flats? (Why Do They Hurt So Much?) and How Young Is Too Young for Pointe Shoes?