Carpet pad is a sheet of spongy material that goes underneath your carpet. Out of sight, out of mind, the saying goes. Maybe that’s why the choice of a carpet pad -aka underlay or cushion- is often overlooked. Yet, the right pad can make or break a carpet purchase because it plays a critical role in your carpet’s performance and appearance.
The carpet padding you use is as critical as the carpet itself. Carpet padding is the comfort item that makes your cover look and feel incredible. Carpet pad supports the floor by limiting noise and amplifying warmth and can expand the life of your carpet.
So, why carpet padding is necessary? The fundamental aim of carpet padding is to preserve your carpet. Carpet pad shields the under part of your carpet against the floor and also against the impact of heavy furniture and foot traffic. Carpet padding is necessary for protecting your carpet as well as other helpful purposes. It makes walking on your carpet softer and makes cleaning easier and more efficient. At the same time, it makes sound isolation.
Which materials are used for carpet paddings? How to choose the right carpet padding? Why carpet padding is necessary? I have made detailed research on carpet paddings and I am going to answer all these questions and some more, in the following paragraphs in detail.
First, I will begin by giving general information; the history of carpet pads and materials used for making carpet pads. Then, I will continue with the detailed information for choosing the right carpet padding for your carpets. Let’s begin with the history of carpet paddings.
History of Carpet Paddings
In earlier times, carpet paddings were made out of cattle hair. Back then, cattle hair was a by-product of the leather tanning trade. It was such a resilient and enduring material that it became very limited from the ’30s-’50s when the demand for carpets increased excessively. In order to keep up with that demand, new material was used, which is called the jute plant. It had a similar feel to cattle hair. Then after the WWII, another material, rubber sponge was started to be used. It had interconnecting cells and more elasticity.
At these days, after the growth of synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and polypropylene, most carpet pads are made from synthetic foam, which is the most re-used material of the world. These fibers are needle punched together
Which Materials are Used for Carpet Paddings?
Three basic materials used for making carpet padding are foam, rubber, and fiber.
There are three different types of foam pads:
- Prime polyurethane foam is a different, firmer version of the same foam. It is found in most furniture, mattresses and even in car seats. In order to form a large mass of foam, two liquid ingredients are mixed and then sliced into thin sheets to be used for carpet pads.
- Bonded polyurethane foam (sometimes called rebound) is quite unique. To make one solid piece, chopped and shredded pieces of foam are combined in different sizes and colors. It is one of the most interesting materials that is recycled.
- Froth polyurethane foam is made with carpet backing type of machinery and it is applied directly to the backs of the carpets in a liquid form. Liquid ingredients react and become a thin foam and especially this procedure is useful for large amounts of carpeting.
There are two types of rubber carpet pads:
- Waffle rubber is produced by applying heat to natural or synthetic rubber. It forms a waffle pattern which is useful for residential spaces with its luxurious, soft feeling.
- Flat sponge rubber is usually used in large areas with loop carpetings with its firm, dense padding, and flat surface.
Unlike foam and rubber pads, fiber paddings use already existing fibers, which are interlocked into a useful sheet.
There are two basic types of fiber carpet pads:
- Natural fibers are the oldest materials of carpet padding, dating way back. These include animal hair, classic jute (which is still quite popular) and felt.
- Synthetic fibers are nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and acrylics. They are needle-punched into relatively dense cushions. They have a firm feel and, as with other types of cushion, can be at any weight. That is why they can be used under a light, medium or heavy foot traffic, which is how they’re usually classified.
How To Choose the Right Carpet Pad?
Choosing the wrong carpet pad can cancel your carpet’s warranty, so be careful and always be aware of the carpet manufacturer’s recommendations. And some retailers try to push only one kind of padding when they have high amounts of them, so think carefully when offered free carpet padding by carpet retailers. Carefully pick your carpet pad and ask the store to order it, even they do not have it in their store. If you are changing your carpet, also change your existing carpet padding since it needs to be replaced sooner then the carpet.
Before choosing your carpet pad, you should consider where you’ll use it. You need to think of the activities and how rough you will be on the carpet pad. For rooms where you stand longer or your kids will play, you may want to consider a thicker carpet padding for comfort and durability. Or if you have someone using a wheelchair, do not choose soft padding since wheelchairs do not roll well on soft paddings. There is no right answer for every carpet. When choosing a carpet pad, it is all about the particular needs of the buyer. Therefore, do not just listen to the salesperson who is probably trying to sell the most expensive product, but be aware of your own needs.
Padding thickness and padding density are crucial features for choosing the right carpet padding.
How to Choose Right Carpet Pad Thickness?
Don’t assume that a thicker pad will always be better for you. Choosing a thick carpet padding can cause wrinkles in your carpet. Most of the sources suggest a 7/16″ thickness since it is best to keep your carpet warranty enforced.
How to Choose Right Carpet Pad Density?
Density is another feature which carpet padding is rated by. Low-density rating of 3 to 5 pounds are mostly used in apartments because of its cheapness but keep in mind that these should be replaced more frequently. In residential spaces, usually, carpet paddings have a density of 6 to 8 pounds. It is also possible to find carpet paddings with 10-pound density.
Although most popular carpet padding density is the 6 pound with its softer feeling, 8-pound density provides the best support for carpets and avoid wearing especially in high traffic areas.
The higher the density, the firmer it will feel. Firmer pads mean better support for your carpet and have a lower chance of wrinkles to form.
5 Reasons Why Carpet Padding is Necessary?
Every carpet needs a carpet pad and here are five reasons why:
No matter where you use the carpet pad or which type you choose, a carpet pad keeps the carpet in place and prevent pulls and slips. You can increase safety for hard flooring surfaces like laminate, tile or hardwood, by using a carpet pad with non-slip coating on at least one side.
The non-slip coating side of the carpet pad should be placed on the side of the hard surface floor to ensure that carpet stays in its place and does not slide on the floor’s surface, causing a potential tripping or falling hazard.
Using a carpet pad extends the life of your carpet since it protects the fibers of your carpet. The carpet pad acts as a soft supporter between the hard surface underneath and the carpet above.
Soil particles erode a carpet’s texture after some time. Debris that is caught between the carpet and the floor will affect the materials of the carpet when footsteps make weight, which will lead traffic paths on the carpet and limit the life expectancy of the carpet. By creating cushioning, padding underneath a carpet protects against these harms and helps you keep up the value of your carpet.
Very important! A carpet pad protect against staining, scratching and dye transfer to the floor and if you choose the right carpet padding, you will experience less wear.
After years of usage, the dyes and tints of carpets may wear off on the floor underneath and a carpet pad acts as a buffer between the carpet and the floor surface. Thus, it helps to keep the floor at its original color. If you choose solid padding, which is not porous, it will also protect against liquid spillings.
4) Comfort and Insulation
A carpet pad adds softness to your carpet and if you choose correctly, it creates a softer feeling and softer walk to the carpet.
Moreover, it provides thermal insulation with its higher R-value (which measures a material’s ability to keep heat from passing through it) than carpet. Carpet padding keeps the room warmer.
Carpet padding also creates additional sound insulation.
This sound insulation is especially helpful for upstairs rooms, but even in a basement, a pad reduces sound more than just a carpet itself.
A carpet pad eases the vacuuming of carpets. It increases the efficiency of vacuuming since it provides space for air to flow between the surface and carpet. An efficient vacuuming removes the dirt and debris which can be harmful to the fabric of your carpet. Vacuums work better with air flowing underneath and carpet pads with air holes provide this benefit for you. But this is not valid for solid pads.
Moreover, when you have carpet padding, your vacuum can raise the carpet slightly and remove more dirt more efficiently. Better vacuuming helps reduce allergic reactions.
What Size Carpet Pad Do I Need?
The carpet padding should be about one inch smaller than your carpet size on all sides so that the edge of your carpet will not be seen. It is really easy to calculate this. For example, for a carpet size of 8’x10’, the carpet padding size should be 7’10”x9’10”, a total of two inches smaller in each dimension, which means one inch less on all four sides.
Also by selecting a smaller size than the actual size of your carpet, the edges of the carpet will taper to the floor and this will prevent any hazard of catching the edge of the carpet by a heel of a shoe. Another upside of this selection is to prevent wearing and curling of the edges of your carpet.
Can Carpet Padding Be Reused?
It is a common question while installing a new carpet. There is no clear answer since it depends on the condition of your carpet padding. After several years, carpet paddings get dirty, smelly and worn out. But if your padding is relatively new, you might reuse it for other carpets as well. Also, you should consider the thickness of your old carpet padding since it gets thinner after several years.
It is not possible to clean carpet paddings because they can fall apart easily. This means if you recognize stains, odor or spots, you should get a new one. Detected stains can be only a portion of germs embedded deep in the fibers of your carpet padding.
When Should I Replace My Carpet Padding?
The aim of using carpet padding is to pad your carpets, but if you have had the same padding for 10 years, there is probably not much padding left in the material of your carpet pad. You can measure the thickness of your padding and look for thinner areas on your padding. There should be at least one-quarter inch of padding all across the area. If this rule does not apply your padding, it is time to change it.
Also, if your carpet padding has stains, an unwanted odor or stains on it, you should immediately replace it.
What Happens When Carpet Pad Gets Wet?
There may be spillings to your carpet padding that will require to dry it. Also, wet carpet cleanings, floods or other incidents may occur and padding must be dried to avoid mold growth and unwanted odors. After being wet more than 24 hours, most probably your carpet padding will be infected with mold and it will be really hard to save it safely.
In order to dry your carpet padding, you need to spend some time but it is not a complicated procedure. Baking soda is a great absorber to dry your padding which will be effective for odors and moisture. Also, do not forget to open windows for ventilation. You can use a fan to move the air around the room, but it is not enough without an absorber. Together with baking soda, allow the carpet padding to dry out in the circulating air.
How Much Does Carpet Padding Cost?
While determining the cost of carpet padding, there are various factors that should be taken into account. Without the cost of labor and materials, padding alone costs about $3- $4 per square yard. For installation, installers generally charge around $3 per square yard, although it can go up to even $6 or more per square yard for larger areas. For unusually shaped rooms, these prices can go up since installers must cut the padding into various pieces to fit it to the area.
Another thing that you should consider for the price is removing service for the old carpet and carpet paddings. Current flooring is usually not considered as a part of the procedure but with older carpets, installers may spend additional hours ripping out the old padding away from the floor. Also, if there is additional furniture in the room that should be removed by the installation company, the price will increase. You should think all these workloads, which will increase the cost of the installation, not just the cost of the padding itself.