Choosing the right knee pad for contractors isn’t easy – there are lots of choices, and confusion, because pads are used so many ways. Many flooring installers just starting out may be tempted to buy whatever knee pad catches their eye – or even use those old skateboarding pads from the garage.
That’s a mistake – knee pads for floor installers are designed for the type of use and movement that is repeated hundreds of times of day. The proper knee pad will provide a combination of support, comfort and protection, while kneeling upright or leaned back with weight also on the shin and ankle. Contrast that with sport-style knee pads, which are designed for impact protection, or protecting the knee during falls.
Contractors need working knee pads – pads that are designed specifically for tradespeople who are on their knees throughout the day and frequently move from one position or location to another. Unless you are on a low budget, stay away from multi-purpose knee pads. They are better than nothing at all, but won’t be comfortable in the long run.
So what do you look for in a knee pad? Consider the following:
Knee Cap – do you want a soft knee cap (the outside that covers your knee), or a hard-shell cap? Hard shell caps are better for sliding across sub-floors, but not recommended for finished surfaces that can be scratched, like vinyl and wood. They can also have hot-spots along the edges that limit shin support.
Padding and Cushioning – This is where comfort counts. If you are on your knees all day, you want padding that will distribute your weight evenly to protect your knees and lower back. Cushioning is more than thickness – you want wide, large pads that have lots of surface area. Pads like the Traxx TTX-6440 Pro and the industry-leading ProKnee 0714 are designed specifically for floor installers and include shin support for even greater protection and comfort.
Straps and Fit – Adjustability is key for long-term comfort. Adjustable straps let you modify the fit to account for different clothing – heavier pants during the winter and lighter weight pants or even shorts during the heat of summer. Ideally, choose a pad that comes in different sizes and use the manufacturer’s fit guide to find the right option for your needs.
Product Support – Quality knee pads are an investment, so look for a manufacturer that stands behind their products, and provides parts, replacements or even rebuild kits. For example, ProKnee offers a parts kit and a rebuild kit for its pads, significantly extending the life and making the pads a great long-term value.
Staying healthy is an important part of making sure you can work in the trades for years to come. Protecting your knees is no place to “tough it out” and knee pads are crucial to being able to perform at the top of your craft day-in and day-out.