Chris Traver of Bozeman, Mont.-based Ramsey Hardwood Floors Inc., tried the new Non-Marring Performance Knee Pads by Milwaukee.
I wear knee pads any time I do anything on the job where I'm on my knees; usually I wear leather knee pads by Troxell USA. My first impression of these Milwaukee knee pads left me skeptical because they seemed bulky and a bit heavy, and I usually don't like knee pads with two straps. When I tried them, I really liked that they have way more cushion than my knee pads. With their gel, I can barely feel the floor at all; I told my coworkers that they felt like kneeling on a cloud. They would be particularly good for kneeling on concrete all day—with my leather knee pads, my knees get sore by the end of the day on a glue-down job.
These do tend to rock side to side on my knees a little bit, so I had to get the straps pretty tight. When I need to move around the floor quickly, they don't feel stable enough, so I found the situations where they worked best were things like scraping corners, where you can kneel for a while before having to move. I tried using them for trowel-filling, but that didn't work as well because I had to move quite a bit and felt like I had to adjust the knee pads as I moved. Edging was a little iffy, because with two hands on the edger, I felt they were rocking side to side.
The straps weren't the most comfortable, but I think I could get used to them. The top strap, in the knee pit area, seems to be getting crushed and compacted instead of staying in its flat strap shape. It's still functional but isn't as comfortable. I've found in the past that knee pads with the plastic clips on the sides like these can dent the wood floor if you rock too far to the left or right, but that didn't happen with these. They also have a covering that is soft enough to not scuff the floor at all. I used them when sanding a reclaimed fir floor, which is probably one of the softest floors to sand, and I couldn't see any marks from the knee pads.
I've had gel knee pads in the past that have worn out and leaked, but that hasn't happened with these, and I've used them quite a bit. In fact, with my usual leather knee pads I have to buy two pairs a year, but I get the impression I could use these for at least a year or possibly more.
These aren't going to be my go-to knee pads, but I'm going to keep using them. I expected that these knee pads would cost more than $34.99; I would definitely buy them for that price.
Retail price: $34.99