Carpet cushion – carpet padding – is the foundation for every carpet installation. While it plays an important role in the life of your carpet, it’s important to remember that padding and carpet work together in staying in great shape. The old adage that if you have to choose between high quality carpet or high quality padding, go with the padding isn’t true. Carpet padding and carpet selection should always work hand in hand, complementing one another for the longest life possible.
Some retailers buy carpet padding in bulk, and therefore recommend carpet padding based on what they have in stock. Don’t let this impact your final decision. If a retailer doesn’t explain how the two work together, find a retailer who does.
Many assume carpet padding is used for comfort under foot, this is only partially true. Carpet padding is used to absorb impact that the carpet would otherwise be subjected to. The impact can cause a breakdown in the fibers, backing to stretch, separation of the primary backing from the secondary backing, and unnecessary stress on the construction of the carpet. The best performing carpet padding will provide less comfort under foot, yet extend the life of the carpet by absorbing the abuse.
Don’t make the mistake of selecting a padding based on softness or thickness.
Carpet padding that is too soft bottoms out with heavy foot traffic. This can shorten its life and performance. Carpet padding is often rated by weight per cubic yard. Yet the actual weight has little to do with performance and more to do with the materials. The ultimate performance factor is how many pounds per footfall area will it take for the carpet padding to bottom out.
Carpet padding that is too thick can allow the carpet to have performance problems. A thicker carpet padding can prevent the carpet from adhering to the tack strip. The carpet industry has established a recommended thickness of 7/16 inch, but you should never go over ½ inch. A ½ inch carpet pad will still provide adequate cushion while allowing the carpet to adhere properly to the tack strip along the walls.
There are many types of carpet padding:
Waffle rubber – it has a waffle texture created with filler and air
Urethane foam – it’s available in a variety of densities and thicknesses
Bonded urethane – this is the most common type of carpet padding sold today
Flat rubber – this is the ultimate in luxury but is difficult to find
Fiber cushion – is primarily used to take advantage of scrap fiber
What questions do you have about the performance of carpet padding?