If all works as it should, you’ll probably never think twice about your carpet padding, which is hidden once the carpeting is installed. However, when you choose the wrong padding, you’re bound to have plenty of cause to wish you had spared more time and attention for this essential foundation.
The padding under your carpet is important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it adds extra cushion to make your flooring more comfortable to walk on. It could also play a role in insulating your home against the incursion of outside temperatures, especially cold that can seep in through basement flooring, or between the floors in your house.
Padding can help reduce noise pollution so that the movements of people upstairs don’t disturb those downstairs. Even more importantly, however, it helps to make cleaning efforts more effective and it preserves carpeting, ensuring greater longevity.
This all sounds incredible, but how do you go about selecting a carpet pad that’s going to deliver all of these benefits? There are several factors you’ll need to consider before you purchase padding.
Prioritize Your Needs
Before you buy any type of consumer goods, it’s wise to consider your needs. You wouldn’t buy a family home without first knowing the square footage, the number of bedrooms, and the quality of the school district, because these are factors that contribute to your overall comfort and ability to enjoy a particular property. The same basic principle applies to choosing the right carpet padding. What are your needs and which are most important?
Does your home have multiple floors that currently transfer a lot of noise from upstairs to downstairs, making your kids sound like a freight train rolling through every time they run down the hallway? Do you have issues with cold seeping up through the flooring? Is comfort and cushiness of the utmost importance? Are you working with a tight budget? Do you plan to replace carpeting again in just a few years when you remodel? Are you interested in eco-friendly options?
These are all important questions to ask before you select carpet padding, because each could impact the type of carpet padding that best suits your needs. First, however, you have to understand the different types of padding and the features available to you.
There are a few important features to consider when choosing padding, including materials, density, and thickness. Common padding materials include urethane foam, bonded urethane, flat rubber, waffle rubber, and fiber cushion. Bonded urethane, also called re-bond, is the most popular padding used and it hits a lot of high points. Not only are there several options for density and thickness, but it is made from high-density, reclaimed scrap urethane, which makes it both more affordable and eco-friendly than some other products.
Urethane foam is likely a bit pricier, but may offer slightly better performance and durability because it has not been bonded to form the cushion. Similarly, flat rubber tends to perform better than waffle rubber, which includes pockets of air. Flat rubber, however, is much more expensive and potentially difficult to find. Those that prefer flat rubber tend to swear by it, and the high density has the potential to provide the greatest longevity and increase the life of your carpeting.
Fiber cushion is an eco-friendly option, like rebond that is made up of scrap fiber. It doesn’t tend to perform as well as other types of padding. Thickness and density are also important features, and you’ll find that greater thickness and density offer better performance, up to a point, but also entail greater cost. This is why it’s a good idea to understand industry and manufacturer recommendations.
Industry standards generally tend toward carpet padding that is about a fourth to 7/16 inches thick, although because of differences in materials, as much as half an inch thick is acceptable. More than that isn’t really needed – thicker isn’t always better. Of course, retailers may try to push you to buy a little more, such as 5/8-inch thickness, but whether or not this is necessary is a matter of opinion.
What you also need to consider is density, and this should be in the range of 6-8 pounds per cubic foot for acceptable comfort and performance. Greater density is better overall because padding that is too soft will give out underfoot, and this could place added stress on carpeting, reducing its usable life. If you’re going to splurge, choose acceptable thickness and spend more on greater density. Then make sure to clean carpets regularly with the help of E&L Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning to maintain flooring and keep it looking great for years to come.