Ladies, take care of your shoes and you'll take care of your floors.

The fashionably high heels (and even styles with wedge heels) contain a steel spike;

the equivalent of a blunt 10-penny nail – to strengthen the heel. If the leather or plastic cap is allowed to wear down, or all the way off as frequently happens, the nails holding it and the center spike can become exposed.

The shoe then can cause indentations and scratches, not only in wood flooring but also in less dense resilient materials. Even carpet, terrazzo, ceramic and metal surface can be damaged.

It has been projected that a two-ton car exerts only 28-30 pounds per square inch of pressure on its supporting surface, a full grown elephant 50-100 PSI, but a 125-pound woman as much as 2,000 PSI when taking a normal step. That's because the lady's heel measures only about 1/20th of a square inch in size. Her weight is concentrated in a tiny area and therefore its effect is multiplied many times.

Hardwood flooring manufacturers do not accept damage to floors caused by such heels as incurring a warranty obligation, nor do flooring installers. Such damage is not the result of manufacturing defects or installation method. Hardwood is a product of nature and therefore susceptible to abuse or mistreatment, and no type of finishing material will, as some people seem to believe, toughen the surface of the wood. In fact, finishes are softer than the wood and thus magnify the damage.

The solution is really quite simple. Just check your heels frequently. When they show signs of wear visit your local shoe repair shop and have new caps or taps (or "lifts" as they're called in the shoe manufacturing and repair industries) put on. The cost is relatively small whereas the cost sanding and refinishing a wood floor to remove indentations or completely replacing some other type of floor covering is not.

And if that's not a good enough reason for keeping shoe heels in good repair, here's another, the exposed nail heads or heel spikes increase the chances of slipping and falling, with the potential for ankle, back or other injury.

So treat your shoes right and you'll help maintain the original beauty and durability of your floors and, perhaps, avoid a painful accident.