Choosing the perfect carpet is exciting, and we want to find the best fit for every space in our home. But padding is often an afterthought. What we often overlook is that carpet padding provides an essential foundation for our gorgeous new carpet. And not all carpet padding is created equal. If you’re investing in high-quality carpet, the right pad is a must. It can upgrade your experience and extend the life of your new carpet.
Why Does Carpet Padding Matter?
Padding’s most essential role is the protection it provides, both to your carpet and to the floor underneath. But there are other perks to choosing the right cushion underneath. Here are some of the big ones:
- It extends the life of your carpet by reducing wear and tear. A high-quality carpet pad is the ultimate shock absorber for your carpet, keeping it in excellent shape for years to come.
- It protects the flooring underneath your carpet by blocking damage from foot traffic.
- Carpet padding provides an extra layer of insulation–keeping your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
- It offers an additional level of soundproofing, helping your home stay quiet and peaceful.
- It helps your carpet look better by avoiding wrinkling, buckling, and wear.
- High-quality carpet padding boosts comfort and makes your carpet more pleasant to walk on.
What Is Carpet Padding Made Of?
Carpet padding comes in a range of materials, but bonded polyurethane foam is the most common. However, not all foam padding offers the same quality. Experts say to look for both thickness and density when choosing a carpet pad. But remember, thicker isn’t necessarily better in every situation. Here’s a look at some common padding materials:
- Bonded polyurethane (also called rebond) is a composite material made from recycled polyurethane foam. It offers a solid combination of durability and value.
- Prime foam padding is a base-level, inexpensive padding. It’s not made to last, and some dealers “throw in” a cheap foam pad with a carpet purchase. It’s not an ideal choice for flooring you expect to last. But it may be a good option for low-cost carpet in a rental that you’ll replace in a few years.
- Memory foam is a popular choice for lower-traffic areas like bedrooms. It’s thicker and softer than traditional polyurethane and offers an incomparable footfall. But it’s less durable and pricier than many other materials, so not the best choice for every room in the house.
- Fiber pads (usually natural or synthetic felt) tend to be thinner and denser and are excellent for high traffic areas. They’re often manufacturer-recommended for durable, low-pile carpets like Berber. Fiber pads are usually affordably priced.
- Rubber pads are available in a thick “waffle” style, which offers excellent durability but comes with a higher price tag than rebond. Flat rubber pads are high-quality and extremely durable in high-traffic areas but are also more expensive than polyurethane.
- The Carpet Cushion Council recommends a thin, flat carpet pad made of rubber or fiber for radiant heat flooring. If you have radiant heat flooring, talk with your installer about the best choices in padding for your home.
How Do I Choose A Carpet Pad?
Your carpet pad is rated both on thickness and density. Your choice usually depends on the type of carpet and where you’re using it. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends a thicker, softer cushion for lower traffic areas like bedrooms. However, a thinner, firmer cushion is best for high-traffic areas like living rooms, hallways and stairs. CRI recommends a carpet pad between 7/16-inch and ¼-inch thick, depending on location and carpet style. We measure density in pounds per cubic foot, with choices ranging from 3 to 10 pounds. We usually recommend 6 to 8 pounds for most residential uses. For example, a thick, soft pad may be terrific for a lush bedroom carpet. However, a thinner, firmer material is best for short-pile carpets like Berber. Remember, your carpet manufacturer often has a recommended padding density for each product. And a qualified installer can help you choose the best option for your new carpet.
What About Those Free Carpet Padding Offers?
They may be tempting, but those “free” carpet pads are usually not the best quality. They’re often a lower density than recommended and don’t provide the foundation your carpet needs. Retailers often build the extra cost into the price of the carpet. The freebie can be a clever hook to pull in customers. But when you break it down, the deal usually isn’t as impressive as it sounds. At Loudoun Valley Floors, instead of gimmicks, we prioritize:
- High-quality carpet, padding, and installation based on your needs.
- A clear price breakdown for carpet, padding, and installation so you know exactly what you’re paying for with each flooring project.
We understand that new carpet is a significant investment–and a real joy for many homeowners. The right carpet pad protects that investment and will keep you cozy and comfortable for years to come.