Whether you’ve just purchased a huge area rug, a small hallway runner, or a fun, fluffy bathroom carpet, you’re going to need to invest in carpet padding if you want your new purchase to fully flourish in your home. It’s not enough to simply go with the cheapest or thickest option either. When it comes to choosing a carpet pad, you really need to do your research if you want it to make a difference. Homeowners and carpet cleaning experts agree that installing a carpet pad under a treasured home rug can help increase its longevity and keep it looking its best even after years of wear and tear. Provided, of course, that the padding is actually doing its job. In order to purchase the perfect padding, you’ll need to take a few factors into account, namely material, firmness, and thickness. If you’ve been assuming that thicker pads are always best, it’s time to change your thinking on that point. Here are a few things you should know before you purchase your carpet padding.
Rug Type Matters
You may have noticed a few different types of padding while shopping for the perfect selection. There’s the type that’s very thin and seems to exist just to hold a smaller rug in place, the type that’s large and dense for especially heavy rugs, and the type that falls somewhere in the middle. Depending on the rug you’re trying to protect, you’ll need to judge how firm and thick your underpadding needs to be in order to stay comfortable, protect your rug’s look, and keep your investment from wearing down too soon. Before you choose your padding, you’ll want to make sure the grade matches up. Grading helps homeowners figure out how long their rug is going to last. If your rug is graded for 15-20 years, the padding needs to be able to pull the weight. Getting padding that won’t last for the full lifespan of your rug will only mean you’re going to end up doubling the cost of your pad. This goes double if you have an especially heavy or thick rug that needs a lot of support.
Thicker is Not Necessarily Better
While you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that thicker padding often equals better support, it’s important to note that this isn’t always the case. The type of rug you choose will determine whether or not you need thick, dense padding, or a thinner protective coating. You’ll also want to purchase padding that helps your rug stay in place as well as offering a layer of support for comfier footfall. If you have a large, heavy rug made of dense natural fibers, chances are you’ll need a thicker padding made of recycled urethane foam or heavy rubber waffle padding just to be able to support the weight of the rug as well as footfall. On the other hand, going with a too-thick or too-heavy padding for a thinner rug could end up causing a lot of premature damage and stretching out the shaper of finer rug materials. The amount of foot traffic your rug gets will also determine what kind of padding you need.
There’s a Certain Science to It
Generally speaking, you can figure out what range of thickness to use for rugs based on their pounds per cubic foot measurement. This means that thicker, heavier rugs made of natural fibers like wool will need padding that’s built to support anything from 8 to 10 pounds of material per cubic foot, while lighter rugs won’t need as much density and strength to get good support. In general, rugs that are thinner such as berber-style carpeting and Persian rugs can get away with a thickness that’s under 3/8 inches, while larger, heavier rugs will need padding with at least ¼ of an inch of thickness.
Different Pads for Different Concerns
If you’re buying padding for a specific reason, this will also determine the degree of thickness you’ll need. For instance, if you have a medium-sized rug that you’d like to help keep a room warmer in winter, such as a small bathroom or office unit, you’ll want to get a denser padding that helps increase thermal energy. If you want to muffle sound by installing carpeting on the stairs or in a larger, more high-ceilinged room, you’ll want to choose padding that’s not too thick but has enough density to absorb creakiness and sound. If you’re worried about pet staining, moisture issues, or protecting the base of your natural fiber rug, you can buy specialty padding that suits those specific concerns.