Al Franken once said, “It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.” Well here at Floor Coverings International of Orange County and Middletown, NY, we know that if you did want to carpet the world, the first thing you’d have to do would be to get a world’s worth of carpet padding! Carpet padding is an often overlooked, but very important part of any wall-to-wall carpeting project. If you’ve ever wanted to know anything about carpet padding, we’re here to help, with everything you’ll ever need to know about it.


What is Carpet Padding?


Carpet padding is the foundation upon which all wall-to-wall carpeting is constructed. Carpet padding and carpet go hand in hand, and while it is generally unseen, it is a vital part of your floors. The padding, sometimes known as underlay, goes beneath the carpet. It is a spongy material that is cut just a bit smaller than the actual carpet, so that it will fit under the main carpet and within the tack strip. The carpet padding will be adhered to the subfloor with either glue or staples. The main purpose of your carpet padding is to protect your carpet from damage, both from abrasion against the subfloor, and stress from traffic above.


The Importance of Carpet Padding


While most people don’t realize it, the choice of your carpet padding is nearly as important as the choice of the carpet itself. The most common reason that people assume carpet needs padding, is to make your floors softer underfoot. While this is certainly true, there are plenty of other benefits to proper carpet cushion. Carpet padding provides excellent insulation, making your house warmer and saving you money on energy costs. This insulation also keeps your home quieter and dulls unnecessary noise. Carpet padding makes your floors easier to vacuum, and contributes to higher air quality, as dirt and allergens are easier to remove. The most important function of carpet padding though, is that it absorbs the abuse of everyday wear and tear. Carpet padding keeps the backing of your carpets from wearing down against the subfloor, and protects them against the wear of heavy traffic.


The Different Types of Carpet Padding


There are a number of different types of carpet padding. Carpet padding is normally made from materials such as rubber, foam, or fiber. Fiber cushion is the oldest style of carpet padding. This carpet pad can be made from synthetic materials like nylon, or you can go greener with natural fibers such as jute. There are two types of rubber carpet padding, waffle rubber and flat rubber. Waffle rubber was especially popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but the pockets of air that give it its characteristic ‘waffle’ texture mean that while it is softer, it is also less durable. Flat rubber is a more expensive and long lasting carpet padding option, because it is much denser than some of the other options. There are three main types of foam carpet padding. Prime urethane foam is made from sheets of foam underlayment. Frothed urethane foam is another premium carpet padding, made with liquid foam that is frothed together. Memory foam is a variety of frothed urethane foam. The most common type of carpet padding, though, is bonded urethane, also known as rebond. This is another environmentally responsible padding option, since it recycles post- consumer waste. Bonded urethane is made from scrap foam that is fused into carpet padding with heat and adhesives.


How to Choose Carpet Padding


The first thing to consider when you’re picking your carpet padding, is the recommendations from your carpet’s manufacturers. If you do not follow these recommendations, you could risk voiding your warranty. This is because choosing the wrong carpet padding could actually damage your carpets. If the carpet pad is too soft, heavy traffic could cause it to bottom out. But if the pad is too thick, it might not hold on to the tack strips properly, resulting in wrinkling and folding. The main thing to consider when you are choosing your carpet padding is the density that you will need. For most residential applications, you should choose carpet padding with a density of about 6 to 8 pounds per cubic foot. Rooms with higher traffic, such as hallways and living rooms, should tend towards the denser, more durable, 8 pound range; whereas you can go with the softer 6 pound range in less trafficked rooms like bedrooms and dens. As far as pad thickness goes, for most residential applications, you should be looking for padding in the ¼ to 7/16 of an inch range, although let us reiterate, that it is important to follow manufacturer recommendations on both the density and thickness of the padding needed for your carpet.


Now that you’re practically a carpet padding expert, call Floor Coverings International of Orange County and Middletown, NY for a free, wall-to-wall carpeting consultation today!