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Carpet Padding Choices Made Easy(er!)

April 10, 2013

Carpet Padding Choices Made Easy(er!)2


Why do “they” need to make choosing a carpet pad so confusing?! Is it really so difficult? Somehow the topic alone makes me go into defensive mode. I feel like it’s an opportunity to get ripped off. Is carpet padding really so important and if so, how do I sort through all the chaff to discover which pieces of information are the ones I need to know?

The more research I do on the topic, the more confusing it gets … at first. But there is hope! Carpet padding can be broken down into a few need-to-know facts. Type, density, and thickness.

It turns out that carpet padding IS important when installing new carpet. Padding alone is necessary simply for its ability to insulate your house, prolong the life of your carpet, make cleaning more efficient, and it make is that much nicer to walk on.


There are five main types of carpet padding:

1. Waffle Rubber:

This type of padding has a poor reputation due to its past performance. It contained so much air that it tended to break down and flatten out. It is now made of “sterner” stuff, but it is still recommended that you find the heaviest cushion you can if using this type of padding.


2. Urethane Foam:

Also known as “prime foam”, this carpet padding comes in a variety of densities and thicknesses. This is not a bad padding, but it is also not a good choice for high-traffic areas. It has a history of allowing too much air to penetrate between the base of the carpet and the padding. This causes the carpet to move up and down which in turn can cause the carpet backing to break down prematurely.


3. Bonded Urethane:

Also known as “rebond” this padding is the most popular on the market. It is comprised of scraps of high-density foam that are left over during furniture manufacturing. The pieces are collected and then bonded together to form the carpet cushion. Its variety of densities and thicknesses are part of what make it such a popular choice. One drawback to be aware of is that sometimes a chemical known as butylated hydroxyl toluene, or Bht, is added to this padding. Although a great chemical to help reduce the risk of fire, it also ups the risk of your carpet turning yellow. Simply be sure to inform your carpet retailer of your desire to have a pad that does not contain Bht.


4. Flat Rubber:

This is probably the most expensive carpet padding available. It can also be difficult to find. However, it will probably outlast your new carpet and can even be reused under your next new carpet. It does not contain air pockets like the waffle rubber. It also resists furniture indentations and crushing. Using a 19-22 lb density flat rubber is a great choice if you feel up to spending the money.


5. Fiber or Hair:

These are usually made from a combination of jute, hair, and scrap fibers. Although a great choice for the environmentally minded, this is not a good choice when considering long lasting carpet quality.


Now that you know about the different types of carpet pads available, let’s learn about the need-to-know terms.


Function of weight in pounds per cubic foot. Basically, how much weight can this padding withstand? When purchasing carpet, the style and type of carpet you choose will have a density recommendation for the padding to go with it. You do not need to stick to this density exactly, but you do need to be sure not to void your warranty by choosing a pad that is not covered. It is suggested that you choose a cushion according to how much traffic it will receive.


Like the name says, this is how thick you want your carpet pad to be. Padding that is too thin or too thick will decrease the life of your carpet. Again, check with your manufacturer so as not to void your warranty. The Carpet and Rug Institute suggests carpet padding that is 7/16-inch for most residences.

Here is a general guideline:

Light traffic – 6.5 lbs, ½ to 7/16-inch thickness.

Heavy traffic – 7.5 to 8 lbs, ½ to 7/16-inch thickness.

I hope this article is helpful to you when faced with the myriad of choices out there. As if choosing carpet isn’t hard enough!

And remember, when it comes time to clean that new carpet, call the best carpet cleaner in Fresno … Aaron’s Quality Cleaners. Like your carpet padding, we can also make your carpet last longer by keeping it free of accumulated grit that wears it down.

Julie Rosenfeld serves as an Administrative Assistant for Aaron’s Quality Cleaners, a carpet-cleaning company that services the Fresno and Clovis (CA) areas.  She is the author of “Julie’s Corner” and provides information and perspective on topics related to the carpet-cleaning industry.


Aaron’s Quality Cleaners performs carpet cleaning, tile cleaning, aggregate cleaning and upholstery cleaning in Fresno, Clovis, Madera and Sanger California

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