Did you know that selecting the right carpet pad is as important as selecting the right carpet? It can make a big difference to both the appearance and performance of your carpet. So before you go out to do battle with your local carpet salesman, arm yourself with the right carpet pad knowledge by taking our quiz.
A carpet pad reduces the amount of wear and tear on your carpet from footsteps and furniture and prevents it from rubbing against the floor underneath.
Padding allows you to lift your carpet slightly during vacuuming, making it easier to remove dirt.
Carpet padding blocks the drafts that can seep through your carpet and also prevents heat loss in the other direction.
If you're replacing an existing carpet, make sure you replace the pad as well. An older pad will not give you the same thermal and acoustical benefits as a new one.
Thick padding works well if you need extra comfort for standing or playing, but doesn't work so well if you have a wheelchair bound family member. Keep your family's particular needs in mind when deciding which pad to buy.
Most carpet experts agree that a separate moisture barrier is not necessary between your carpet and its underpad. Many carpets and pads have their own built-in moisture barriers.
Waffle rubber is a spongy rubber material that was once very popular for use as carpet padding. Its waffle-like texture allows the carpet to "float" a bit on air, giving it a very soft feel.
Despite its shortcomings, waffle rubber provides adequate padding if it has the proper density. It's generally inexpensive and gives a cushiony feel that many people like.
Density is the most important trait to consider when evaluating the quality of a carpet pad. If a pad can be completely compressed, your carpet absorbs too much wear.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) actually sets standards for carpet padding. For private homes, it recommends waffle rubber padding be at least 0.285 inch (7.2 millimeters) thick and weigh 14 pounds per cubic foot (224.3 kilograms per cubic meter), whereas for public areas, they recommend 0.33 inch (8.4 millimeters) and 16 pounds per cubic foot (256.3 kilograms per cubic meter).
Urethane foam, better known as foam rubber, is made by blowing gas into a heated, liquid chemical mixture. It is porous and spongy, has superior insulative properties and is used as cushioning for furniture and mattresses.
Though HUD recommends a standard of 0.375 inch (9.525 millimeters) thick and 2.2 pounds per cubic foot (35.2 kilograms per cubic meter) for prime foam when used in light or moderate traffic areas, it does not recommend it at all for heavy traffic areas.
Because its chemical mixture is frothed while still liquid, frothed foam produces a denser, firmer result ideal for use in carpet padding.
If you want to go green choose bonded urethane foam, also known as rebond, for your carpet padding. Made from foam scraps left over from the manufacture of furniture, mattresses, etc. it is the most common type of carpet pad material.
Though prices will fluctuate with scrap foam's market value, using material that would otherwise go to waste keeps the price of rebond down.
A thick padding allows too much up-and-down movement of the carpet and can cause the carpet to pull away from the tack strips that hold it against the wall. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, no pad should be more than seven-sixteenths of an inch thick.
If you use radiant heat to heat your home, keep this tip in mind when choosing carpet padding. Choose a pad with a low R-value since too much insulation will block the heat coming up from below; a flat rubber 0.25-inch (6.35-millimeter) pad has an R- value of only 0.31.
Flat rubber pads are solid and heavy as well as long-lasting and give a carpet good support. It's an excellent pad for high traffic areas such as hallways and stairs and resists furniture indentation.
Fiber cushions, made from synthetic fibers like nylon, are the oldest type of carpet pad and were originally made from animal hair. Fiber mats aren't generally used for residential carpet installation, but can be laid under area rugs to prevent their movement.
An under-carpet warming pad uses coils of wire wrapped in foil to provide warmth from underneath your carpet, keeping your toes toasty warm on a frigid winter day.