The Importance of Carpet Padding

Carpet padding is an often overlooked, but very important part of any wall-to-wall carpeting project. They both go hand-in-hand and while it’s generally unseen, it’s a vital part of your floors. Carpet padding is also called carpet underlay as it serves as the foundation where the carpets are installed.

The main purpose of carpet padding is to protect your carpeting. The pad keeps the underside of your carpet from wearing against the bare floor. It also helps the impact of heavy furniture and foot traffic. Carpet pad serves a variety of other helpful purposes:

  • It creates a softer walk or feel to the carpet. Many homeowners think this is the whole point of the carpet pad, but it’s not. In fact, the best padding 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 can raise the carpet slightly and remove more dirt, which helps reduce allergic reactions. It also provides thermal insulation.
  • A carpet underpad stops the drafts that can seep through porous carpeting. Padding has higher R value (which measures a material’s ability to keep heat from passing through it) than carpet which keeps the room warmer.
  • Carpet padding also helps dampen sound. This is especially more important for upstairs rooms, but even in a basement, a pad reduces sound more than just a carpet by itself.

History of Carpet Padding

Earlier carpet pads were made out of cattle hair, which was a by-product of the leather tanning trade back in the day. Cattle hair was such a resilient and durable material, which is what made it become very limited from the 30’s-50’s when the demand of tufted carpets grew so much. So, to help keep up with that demand, a new material was used–the jute plant, which had a similar feel to cattle hair.

Then as WWII ended, rubber sponge was introduced. This material was an elastic mass with interconnecting cells. More recently, there has been a massive growth of synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, and polypropylene. These fibers are needle punched together, interwoven to create a fiber pad. And these days, most carpet pads are made from rebounded polyurethane foam, which is knows as the world’s most reused material.

Construction of Carpet Underlay

Carpet padding is normally made from three basic material categories like rubber, foam or fiber.

Foam Carpet Padding

There are three different types of foam pads:

  • Prime polyurethane foam is a firmer version of the same foam that’s found in upholstered furniture, mattresses and even in car seats. Two liquid ingredients are combined which forms a large mass of foam, which is then sliced into sheets to be used as carpet cushion pads.
  • Bonded polyurethane foam (sometimes called rebound) is quite unique. It’s formed by combining chopped and shredded pieces of foam, in different sizes and colors into one solid piece. Bonded foam is one of the most amazing recycled materials around.
  • Froth polyurethane foam is made with carpet backing type of machinery. Liquid ingredients are applied, either directly to the backs of some carpet styles, or to non-woven material. They react and form a thing, dense foam which is particularly useful in commercial spaces with large amounts of carpeting.

Rubber Carpet Pad

Leggett and platt rubber pad available at Avalon Flooring
Photo courtesy of Leggett & Platt Rubber XD pad available at Avalon Flooring

There are two types of rubber carpet pads:

  • Waffle rubber is made by molding natural or synthetic rubber. Heat cures the rubber and forms a waffle pattern. This variety produces a soft, resilient cushion whose luxurious feel is particularly useful for residential spaces.
  • Flat sponge rubber is a firm, dense padding, which has a flat surface (hence the name) and is normally used in large commercial spaces and with loop type carpeting.

Fiber Carpet Padding

Fiber, unlike foam and rubber pads, uses existing fibers, which are interlocked into a useful sheet of felt. There are two basic types of fiber carpet pads:

  • Natural fiber includes felt, animal hair and the classic famous jute (which is still popular from back in the day), making this one of the oldest types of carpet padding, dating back into the early days.
  • Synthetic fibers include nylon, polyester, polypropylene and acrylics, which are needle-punched into relatively dense cushions which have a firm feel and, as with other types of cushion, can be virtually any weight, to stand up under light, medium or heavy foot traffic, which is how they’re usually classified.

Choosing the Right Carpet Pad

Well, a certain type, thickness and density of padding is required by every carpet manufacturer to maintain your carpet warranty and its fresh feel.

Carpet Pad Thickness

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a thicker pad will be better for you. Choosing a padding that’s too thick can cause wrinkles in your carpet. A 7/16″ thickness is the best to choose to keep your carpet warranty enforced.

Carpet Padding Density

Carpet padding is also rated by its density. Some pads have a low density rating of 3 to 5 pounds and are typically used in apartments because it’s less expensive and will be replaced more frequently. Carpet padding used in residential spaces usually has a density of 6 to 8 pounds, but 10 pounds are also available.

The 8 pound density is the most popular because it feels softer on the feet. It provides better support for carpeting and will make it wear better especially in high traffic areas.

The higher the density, the firmer it will feel. Firmer pads provide better support for your carpet, meaning lower chance of wrinkles to form.

Now that we’ve broken down all the important facts of carpet padding, let’s get into the kinds we provide. We have a variety of brands that you can easily choose from.

Black Max
Black Max carpet pads are Bonded Rebound CRI approved! It is recommended for cut, pile, plush, and LCL (loop cut loop) patterns of carpet.

Specifier’s Choice
Specifier’s Choice is stable and low flexing. It is recommended for Berbers, wools, on stairs, Wiltons and specialty carpets. It is the best pad for wool and woven carpets.

Mohawk All Pet Cushion
Mohawk All Pet Cushion features Spill Safe Moisture Guard, Memory foam & premium urethane. When paired with Smartstrands or  Kashmere products it adds about 10 years onto the warranty and it’s recommended to be used with cut, pile, plush, and LCL.

Leggett and Platt Pads
Leggett and Platt carpet cushions provide luxurious comfort and support along with enhanced carpet appearance and longevity.

So when it’s time to pick your next carpeting, don’t forget to pick out the best carpet padding for you. If you’re not sure, just ask one of our design experts and they’ll help you choose from the finest ones we have!

At Avalon Flooring, we want to make sure you’re happy from your first step in our showroom to your first step on your new flooring—and as your partner in home design, we’ll be there every step along the way. Consider us your “One-Stop Shopping” destination for all things flooring…(and window treatments)!

Our design consultants are equipped with the knowledge to guide you through the wide selection of products we offer, and our expert installation team is professionally trained to make sure everything gets installed the way you envision. We know your home is an expression of your sense of style, and we’re here to make sure you’ll be proud of it for years to come.

If you have any questions, please email us.