Fashionable 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 can then cause indentations and scratches, not only in wood flooring but also in less dense resilient materials. Even carpet, terrazzo, ceramic and metal surfaces 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/stair manufacturers do not accept damage to floors caused by such heels. 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.