How To Make Your Rubber-Soled Shoes Last Longer

I wear shoes on a daily basis (not sneakers). And, I walk about four to six miles a day in my shoes. Add to that the fact that my shoes take a beating. I walk on concrete, gravel, and wet surfaces in all weather. My heels and soles wear down quickly no matter what type of shoe I wear. For all of the above-said reasons, I do not invest in expensive leather-soled shoes for day-to-day wear. I prefer rubber-soled shoes because they offer greater comfort and require less expensive maintenance.

Rubber Soled Shoes Maintenance
My Bostonian Strada Rubber-Soled Shoes

Rubber-soled shoes can be nearly as comfortable as sneakers while offering a more stylish, ‘dressy’ appearance. Generally, you can find moderately-priced good-looking dress shoes with rubber soles from brands like Rockport (a personal favorite), Bostonian, G.H. Bass, and Nunn Bush that if well-polished and maintained can look every bit as nice as more expensive leather-soled dress shoes when worn with a well-tailored suit or sportscoat.

Here’s a great way to extend the life of low-cost rubber-soled dress shoes . . .

Most rubber-soled dress and casual shoes that sell for less than $100.00 or so have glued construction and are not intended to be resoled. Once the heels and soles are worn down you throw them away.

Rockport Shoes - Rubber Heel Taps
Rubber heel taps glued and tacked to my Rockport Shoes

Many times, however, the rubber heels and soles wear out rapidly while the uppers continue to look great. My rubber heels and soles wore down after about six months of wear while the uppers showed few signs of wear. I needed a way to get more longevity from my shoes. True to my frugal nature, I found a way to extend the life of the heels and soles of my shoes inexpensively. You may benefit from these low-cost tips for extending the life of all of your glued construction rubber-soled shoes.

wing tip shoes - thrift shopping

First, I add rubber taps to the shoe heel on the edge that wears the fastest. The taps are purchased on eBay direct from the factory in Shanghai, China for less than $4.00 for 20 pairs (including shipping). They do a great job of preventing the rubber heel of the shoe from wearing down. These taps were glued to the heel with Loctite Vinyl, Fabric & Plastic Adhesive. This glue is waterproof, flexible when dry, and dries quickly. Finally, I use 5/8 inch wire brads to nail the rubber tap to the heel. Because the heels are rubber, it does not require much pressure to secure the nails. Just be sure the heel depth is thick enough to accept nails without piercing the inner sole of the shoe. Be sure to remove all nails each time you replace the rubber tap.

A set of rubber taps can last 4-6 months (they are are about 2 months old in this photo). I replace them before they wear down to the shoe heel. A pair of pliers is all that is needed to pull off the old rubber tap before gluing down a replacement. By doing this, I can double and even triple the life of my rubber shoe heels!

Make rubber soles last longer

The next step is extending the life of the shoe sole. If the shoe soles have a textured surface, I allow it to wear down a bit first (don’t let them wear through) for better glue adhesion. I use a pair of anti-slip rubber sole shoe pads purchased from Shanghai, China via eBay (5 pairs for $1.27 including shipping). First, remove the layer of adhesive from these pads (it is easily peeled off with your fingernail) as it is not very good. You want just the bare rubber pads without adhesive. These pads are placed over the part of the sole showing the greatest amount of wear (usually around the ball of the foot) and glued down with a thin coat of Shoe Goo Black Shoe Repair Adhesive (you can find it on Amazon for about $6.00 per tube). I also brush a light coating of Shoe Goo over the edges of the pad to ensure that they do not separate from the sole with wear. Because Sho Goo is highly flexible and dries to the consistency of shoe rubber, it holds up very well on rubber shoe soles subject to constant flexing.

By replacing the rubber heel savers and sole pads as they wear down you prevent wear from reaching the rubber soles and heels, greatly extending the usable life of your rubber-soled shoes.

These two steps have allowed me to double and triple the life of my rubber-soled shoes. As long as the uppers look good, you can redo these two steps to keep your soles and heels from wearing down even with heavy use. The photo below shows all of the easy-to-use tools needed for this task.

maintain rubber-soled shoes

This bit of maintenance will extend the life of inexpensive rubber-soled shoes without costly visits to the shoe repair shop. Plus, it does not require any specialized or expensive tools or supplies. For frugal tips on polishing your shoes, check out this post.

maintain rubber soled shoes - shoe trees

Finally, always put wooden shoe trees in your shoes after each day’s wear. This will preserve the shape of your shoes, minimizing any creases. Also, the wood will remove odors and dampness. If you own one pair of shoe trees just place them in whatever pair of shoes are worn at the end of that day. They only need to be in the shoes for a day to maintain the shape and eliminate moisture that can cause odor.

Instead of throwing out a pair of rubber-soled shoes with worn-down heels after six months of wear, I can extend their usable life two or three times that (or more) with a bit of inexpensive maintenance. Save money and look good! -SplurgeFrugal!