Carpet Padding: Information Guide and Products

Although carpet padding is largely out of sight and out of mind, it is the unsung hero of any carpet install. The right carpet pad protects your carpet from wear, adds unmatched comfort to any room, acts as insulation, and can even extend warranties.

Carpet padding is usually a foam underlayment specifically designed for installation under the broadloom carpet. It serves a number of uses such as insulation, acoustics, support, and comfort. Most carpet padding is comprised of polyurethane foam – the same stuff that’s in furniture, mattresses, and even car seats. This foam offers support to your carpet, allowing it to last longer in your home.

Carpet padding is less about matching looks to home and more about matching a carpet pad to your daily needs. It is the technical side of shopping for carpet. It is also completely necessary, so there’s no way around it! Carpet padding is responsible for keeping your new carpet durable and comfortable for years to come.

Regardless of any other traits, density — or how much weight it has for a given thickness — is the key to a carpet pad’s usefulness. If your padding isn’t dense enough, it won’t adequately protect your carpet — if the pad can be completely compressed, your carpet absorbs wear with each impact. In fact, a carpet pad’s density is rated according to the force needed to compress it in this way.

Types of Carpet Padding

Rebond Pad

This is the most common type in the residential setting. It is made from recycled materials, mainly from recycled urethane foam and is multicolored. It is available everywhere and in almost every thickness and density. It does a good job supporting your carpet and is reasonably priced. This is the most economical choice for your home, rental or office as well. 6 to 10-pound density is common. 8-pound gives excellent support for homes with active kids too.

Not all rebond padding is of high grade or top quality. Every padding manufacturer offers several grades of rebond padding to their distributors. Retailers have a choice of which grade of rebond padding to offer to their customers. The main difference will be the type of recycled materials used to manufacture the padding and the density rating. The higher the quality of the recycled materials used, the better the rebond pad will perform.

Bonded foam carpet pads are distinguished by their multi-colored appearance, which is the result of several types of scrap foam being bonded together. These offer the most value for your dollar and come in several different thicknesses and densities.

Foam Padding (Urethane)

This type of carpet pad is often very inexpensive and lightweight. If a retail store tries to give you a free pad with your carpet purchase, this is usually what they give you. This type will not tolerate much traffic. It will soon become completely flat as a pancake after a year or so and is not a good choice for a residential setting. This is often used in apartment settings where the carpet life span is less than 3 years.

Urethane foam is the material commonly known as foam rubber, which is produced by blowing gas into a heated, liquid chemical mixture. When it dries, the foam rubber is porous and spongy, and the gas trapped within the urethane foam gives it great insulative properties. This same material is used as cushioning for furniture, mattresses and car seats.

Prime Urethane Foam

This type of carpet pad is called prime or virgin urethane which is not made from recycled materials. It is a better grade of foam pad that could be a good choice for the home. It is made of very dense urethane. It is designed primarily for commercial applications but is becoming more common in residential applications. The cost is more than a standard Rebond and not a common choice among homeowners.

It is made from large pieces of foam sliced into sheets. While this type of foam rubber padding makes your carpet soft and comfy, it is not recommended for high traffic areas like stairways or halls. Foam rubbers cushioning comes from its air pockets, but as with waffle rubber, the air doesn’t always provide enough support to limit carpet movement and protect your carpet from wear.

Memory Foam Pad

Memory foam is made of frothed foam with viscoelastic gel infused. It is a great pad material. The viscoelastic part is where memory foam gets difficult to judge.

Wool or Fiber Pad, Synthetic Fiber Pads

These types of natural wool or synthetic carpet pads are used primarily for Berbers and commercial carpets. They are very dense, breathe well, and are not spongy at all. They are made from recycled or shredded fabrics or natural wool. They are designed to support and allow looped Berbers and commercial carpets to wear well in heavy traffic situations and to prevent these types of carpets from stretching out and developing wrinkles. A synthetic fiber pad is also a great choice for basements with concrete floors as it breathes well, resists mold and mildew and has anti-microbial properties.

Rubber Pad (Waffle) or Rubber Slab (Flat)

Rubber slab padding is often used in commercial applications over concrete. Rubber padding density is usually rated in ounces instead of pounds. Best of all, waffle rubber is usually inexpensive and widely available. This type of padding also gives carpet the soft, cushiony feel that some homeowners prefer.

Specialized Carpet Pads

(Moisture barrier pads, odor eating pads, pet odor pads, baking soda pads)

These enhanced types of carpet padding are typically much more costly than a standard Rebond padding. They may offer certain unique benefits for some applications, but in most Specialty Pads are a wise or necessary choice for most homeowners. There is not a measurable way for a homeowner to effectively determine if a specialty pad is having any worthwhile, positive or beneficial effect over the lifespan of the carpet.

Some carpet salespeople may try to convince you to upgrade your order with a specialty pad that has claims of being able to eliminate odors or have a moisture barrier surface that will help with pet accidents. These types are not recommended and it is suggested that you should avoid the extra expense. It will just cost you more money and not solve or diminish your pet accident problems. Spending more money on a specialty pad will likely not reduce the severity of your pet accident problem.

Why Do You Need Carpet Padding?

Extending the Life of Carpet

Carpet padding helps maintain the look of your carpet as well as its overall life. The truth is, carpet installed without a pad just doesn’t last as long. That’s because there is nothing behind it absorbing the shock of everyday wear and tear. Having carpet padding helps reduce fiber crushing and keeps your carpet thicker, longer.

Providing Comfort

A big selling point of the carpet is that it is comfortable and soft. The truth is, no matter how thick or tall your pile height is, a carpet pad is required to make that carpet as comfortable as possible. Carpet padding absorbs the impact of your footsteps, making it comfortable to walk on. It also helps reduce walking fatigue with its shock-absorbing properties.

Improving Acoustics

It helps improve the acoustics of a home. Sound-absorbing materials are necessary for apartments, condos, and two-level homes. After all, nobody wants to hear other people stomping around! Using carpet padding significantly increases impact noise ratings and results in measured noise reduction.

Thermal Insulation

Carpet padding helps provide some insulation to your home. If you live in a cold environment, carpet padding will help retain some of your home’s heat. If you live in a hot environment, carpet padding will prevent cool air from escaping. The insulating properties of carpet padding keep your energy bill down and your home well insulated.

Thickness (Height) and Density (Weight)

Thickness (Height)

The thickness of carpet padding affects certain uses and types of carpet.

  • High traffic areas: For heavy traffic areas, such as commercial settings, thicker carpet padding is not ideal. For these situations, you will want a thinner carpet pad with a heavier weight.
  • Living rooms, bedrooms, and dens: These residential areas of the home are the perfect place to splurge on a thicker carpet padding.
  • Berber carpet: A thick pad can actually damage thin carpet types, such as Berber. That’s because the thick carpet pad has too much “give” for a short-pile carpet. For this reason, you will want a thinner carpet pad.

Density (Weight)

This measurement is usually calculated by pounds per cubic foot, and most carpet pads fall in between a 3-10 lb. measurement. For the best bang for your buck, we recommend at least a 6-lb. pad for a residential carpet. For the best in durability and comfort, an 8lb pad will do the trick.

How to Select the Right Carpet Padding

The main purpose of a carpet pad is to protect your carpet. The pad keeps the underside of your carpet from wearing against the bare floor. It also absorbs the impact of footsteps and furniture, lessening the stress on the carpet. In one study, carpets without cushioning lose, on average, 19 % of their pile height from wear compared to a five to 10% loss for the same carpet with a separate pad.

The carpet pad serves a variety of additional purposes:

  • It creates a softer “walk” or softer feel to the carpet. Many homeowners think this is the whole point of a pad, but it is not. In fact, the best pad for a particular carpet may provide less foot comfort than an inferior one.
  • A carpet pad makes cleaning your carpet more efficient. When you have padding, your vacuum cleaner can raise the carpet slightly and remove more dirt, which helps reduce allergic reactions.
  • It provides thermal insulation. A carpet pad stops the drafts that can seep through some porous carpeting. Padding has higher R-value — which measures a material’s ability to keep heat from passing through it — than carpet, keeping the room warmer.
  • Carpet padding dampens sound. This is especially important for upstairs rooms, but even in a basement, a pad reduces sound more than a carpet alone.

Installing the wrong carpet pad can sometimes void your carpet’s warranty, so you should always look at the carpet manufacturer’s recommendations. And think twice about the free carpet pad offered by carpet retailers. Some retailers order padding by the truckload and push only one kind. You should decide on the carpet pad you want and ask the store to order it if they don’t have it in stock. If you are replacing the carpet, don’t be tempted to save by using the existing pad. It almost always needs to be replaced.

Before choosing your carpet pad, you should look at where you will use it. Think about what kind of activities or traffic the room sees, and choose a pad that can take a beating if you think you will be rough on it. If you stand a lot or have kids who will play there, consider thicker padding for increased comfort. Does someone in your home use a wheelchair? They don’t roll well on soft padding, so take that into account, too. Regardless of everything else, when choosing your carpet pad, it all comes down to your particular needs, so don’t let a salesperson who’s more interested in installing the most expensive product sway you.

What Carpet Padding is Best for Your Floor?

Residential Carpet: Residential carpet installations are all about comfort. For this reason, you can purchase a thicker carpet pad.

Commercial Carpet: Commercial carpet installations usually focus on long-term durability. Because of this, a thinner, but a denser carpet pad is recommended. Remember, looped and Berber carpets require specific carpet padding.

Looped Carpet: Looped carpet refers most often to Berber carpet styles or other short pile commercial carpet types. For these installations, most manufacturers require synthetic fiber pads.

High Traffic: Typically high traffic occurs in commercial settings, such as stores and offices. For these types of installations, a thin and dense carpet pad is preferable.

Can Carpet Padding be Reused?

It depends completely on the type and condition of the carpet padding. Most padding will become worn, dirty, or smelly after several years of use. However, if your carpet padding is relatively new you may be able to reuse it.

Dirt and Odors Cannot be Removed

Because carpet padding is very fragile and can easily fall apart it is almost impossible to clean. If you find that the padding has spots, stains or an unnatural odor, it should be tossed. After all, the dirt and stains you see are only a portion of the germs that will be embedded deep in the fibers. Spraying a dirty pad with Lysol will not kill all of the germs and the smell will likely come back very quickly.

Consider Wear and Tear

The purpose of carpet padding is to pad the floor under your carpet. If you have had the same padding for 10 years there is probably very little bounce or pad left in the material. You may want to take a tape measure and measure how thick the padding is. You should also look for thin spots or areas that are thinner than others. Make sure you have at least one-quarter inch of padding consistently across the floor. If your current padding does not provide this it is time to replace it.

When Should You Replace Carpet Padding?

There are several reasons why you should consider replacing carpet padding. Some of these are personal decisions, such as whether you mind voiding a new carpet warranty, and some of these can affect your health, like mold and mildew. Weigh the costs and benefits of carpet padding replacement before making a final judgment.


A good rule of thumb for carpet padding is to replace it every 5 years. Your carpet may be in better or worse shape, though, so you will have to do an inspection to decide what shape it is in. If your carpet sees a lot of traffic, it may wear out sooner, but if it is in a less-traveled area, it may last significantly longer. One way to quickly test the condition of your carpet is by walking over it. If you hear crackling or notice it’s uneven or worn in places, it’s time to change the padding.

Carpet Replacement

If you are getting new carpet, there are two reasons you might want to change your carpet padding. First, a lot of manufacturers will void the warranty if you do not use new padding when you install a new carpet. While a void carpet warranty may not seem to matter, the premise behind it is sound and actually leads to the second reason: carpet padding has to be carpet specific.

Discoloration from Gases

Gases in certain padding can creep up and start discoloring carpet. This typically happens with older rubber pads and pads that contain formaldehyde. Not only does off-gassing emit a strong smell, but it sometimes can turn white carpets yellow. If you notice discoloration and cannot identify the source, it could be from your padding.

Stains and Odors

If you have spilled something on your carpet, chances are you can eliminate the stain and forget about it. But in some cases, whatever you have spilled may leak into the padding and either create a mold scenario or cause a strong smell. Liquids like gasoline, milk, vinegar, and bleach give off strong odors that are not easy to rub out or mask.

Water Damage

Whether it is flooding or a big spill if a large number of water leaks into the padding, mold, and mildew can easily take over. If you are set on not replacing either carpet or padding, it is imperative that you dry both pieces as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Over the next few weeks, make sure no odor appears, as it may indicate mold or mildew. In that case, you will need to replace both carpet and padding.

Gorilla Grip Original Area Rug Gripper Pad, 5×8, Made in the USA, for Hard Floors, Pads Available in Many Sizes, Provides Protection and Cushion for Area Rugs and Floors

This product is designed to leave your floors mark-free. It is designed for hard floors only. Its open grid construction helps prevent dust build-up and bacteria from forming under your rugs. Please note this pad may not be suitable for unsealed, lacquered, acrylic, carpet or porous services.

It can certainly be easily cut to fit any non-standard sized rugs. It comes pre-cut in many sizes in order to meet your needs. For unique sizes and shapes, you can just trim the pad with a household scissor. Just put the pad down, place the rug on top and trim off any excess material. And use the extra for drawer or shelf liners and small pieces can even help with opening jars. Because of its sturdy construction, these rug pads are reversible, vacuum-friendly and ready to use right out of the packaging.

Mohawk Home Dual Surface Felt and Latex Non-Slip Rug Pad, 8’x10′, 1/4 Inch Thick, Safe for Hardwood Floors and All Surfaces

The quality is amazing for the price! It is solid and heavy and while my area rug isn’t thick and plush, it is a decent decorative floor rug and this pad is as thick as the area rug. It is very solidly constructed with a rough, kind of wool-like outer surface that the rug lays on top of, while the inside is a textured soft rubbery kind of layer, sort of like what you find on the bottom side of a bathroom rug. No more sliding area rug every time the cats tear off across the living room floor. This pad provided a “little” bit of extra comfort, but not much, and certainly not twice the price level of comfort.

There are many different varieties of rug pads available. Compressed foam, thick plain felt, rubberized non-slip foam, etc. This rug pad by Mohawk is a non-slip felt with rubberized backing. The felt is coarse and scratchy which will grip the back of the rug and keep it from “walking” off the pad. The rubberized backing keeps the rug exactly where you place it, keeping it from creeping out of place with heavy traffic.

DoubleCheck Products Non-Slip Rug Pad Size 8 X 10 for Hard Surface Floors Extra Strong Grip and Thick Padding

This one is strong and effective and won’t stain floors like some others. It completely eliminates slipping even on your long and narrow hallway runner. It is slim enough that rugs lay flat but plush enough to feel comfy under your feet. It is also easy to trim for unusually sized rugs. By adding support, allowing air circulation, and holding your rug in place it will reduce the wear and tear and add years to your rug\’s life.

It is a very nice, comfortable cushion, despite the thinness, and protects the carpet from wear very well, which is anticipated for years. Zero slippage; given that it gets a lot of traffic in the foyer, there is absolutely no movement, either between the rug and pad or the pad and floor. It is like it is all tacked down! Normally, the rug and pad are sliding about or the rug is sliding off the pad but with this pad, those issues do not exist, as, once again, it has superb non-slip against both the floor and rug.

RUGPADUSA – Basics – 8’x10′ – 1/3″ Thick – 100% Felt – Premium Comfort Rug Pad – Also Available with Non-Slip Option – Safe for All Floors and Finishes including Hardwoods – Made In the USA

First off it doesn’t look at all like the product photo. It doesn’t have such a clean, uniform, or even dark appearance. It actually looks more like a bunch of dryer lint pressed into some kind of sheet (not to say that it is, that’s just that it looks like). If you tug on it hard enough you can easily stretch it out of whack. It is, however, the advertised 3/8″ thick and relatively cushiony. It is thick enough to give a nice feel underfoot.

The pad contains 28oz of felt per square yard. Thickness is approximately 1/3″ throughout (actual thickness may vary slightly in production). Dense thick felt adds soundproofing and insulation. Non-abrasive to protect rugs and floors from scratches. Adds extra comfort underneath rugs without extra bulking. It is chemical and adhesive free. It will not stain, strip, or damage hard surface flooring. It is safe to use with hardwood, laminate, stone, tile, radiant heat, concrete, bamboo, and more.

Carpenter, 8’x10′, 1/2″ Visco- Elastic Memory Foam, Spillguard DuPont Barrier Rug Pad

It helps insulate the floor a bit, and take the edge off the coldness underfoot. It prevents the rug from scratching up the brand new flooring. It protects the floor in case your pet had an emergency. It adds some cushion to a relatively thin rug. It protects your investment by enhancing carpet performance and makes any carpet or rug feel more luxurious underfoot. Spillguard moisture barrier prevents spills and accidents from penetrating the cushion, so they can be blotted from the rug quickly and easily.

This pad is intended to provide comfort and protection. It does not have a non-slip backing, not recommended for keeping rugs in place. It arrives as two (5’x8′) pads pieced together with a 3″ wide carpet tape.

Mohawk Ultra Premium 100% Recycled Felt Rug Pad, 5’x7′, 1/4 Inch Thick, Safe for All Floors

It works rather well. It will not leave a pattern and provides some additional cushioning. The cushioning isn’t really needed. However, your floor will be well protected. It gives a lot of cushions and has actually helped hold in the dust that jute rugs inevitably leave behind. You can cut the pad in order to match the floor pad. That is very easy to do. Overall, you will be pleased with the results. This is a good product. The online information exactly matches the actual product. It slips easily on the floors so only use for large area rugs that will have furniture to hold in place. Otherwise buy the one with grip added.

When a rug is properly padded, it looks better to the eye, feels better to the feet, and will greatly extend the life and wear of the rug. This pad is thick and soft while still being appropriately supportive between the rugs and floor and doesn’t slide around. It is also easy to cut-to-size. Since it is needed to be trimmed both length and width, you can use the trimmed portions for another small rug with using duct tape (wide packing tape will make a crinkle sound when you walk over it so that’s not ideal) to hold the individual sections together. If you do the same just remember to place the tape side up so your floor isn’t scratched.

Ninja Brand Gripper Rug Pad, Size 8 Feet x 10 Feet, for Hardwood Floors and Hard Surfaces, Top Gripper Adds Cushion and Maximum Protection, Works with All Types of Rugs, Pads Available in Many Sizes

The Ninja Brand rug pad is a miracle solution. This anti-slip pad is priced lower than many of the alternatives. It provides a layer of cushion under your feet while being thin enough so you cannot see the rug pad underneath. This product has no chemical odor. It is designed to provide great protection and security, but will not leave marks nor fuse to your floor. It is kind of like that thin foam-like material that cabinet and drawer liners are made of. It stays in place very well.

To trim the pad, here’s what it is recommended: Flip your rug upside down, place the pad over the rug, aligning two sides so that the excess pad hangs over the edge of the rug, then use a utility knife to gently cut through the pad about 1″ from the edge. To secure the pad to the rug you can use any duct tape rolled into a loop so that it adheres to both the rug and the pad. This pad does not offer as much of a plush feeling. Not an issue for most of the customers but something for you to consider.

Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like history and reading about carpets. I like to play soccer too :)

Recent Content