Carpet padding isn’t an afterthought; in fact, it should be considered in the same manner as when you choose your carpets. After all, the padding is what sets the stage for how well your carpeting will perform over the years. Carpet padding should be soft enough for comfort, yet sturdy enough to support the traffic that crosses over it each day.
When purchasing and installing new carpet, start by checking the manufacturer’s specifications regarding pad thickness. If you choose one that is too thick or thin, it can cause the carpet to wrinkle, buckle, and wear before its time. And in some cases, choosing a padding that doesn’t meet the manufacturer’s specifications can null and void the warranty.
Although each manufacturer will provide its own specifications, for most residential carpets, the pad should be between ¼ to 7/16 inch thick and should have a density in the 8 to 8 pound per cubic foot range. A thinner loop cut pile carpet will require a more stable pad than a thicker, plusher carpet built for warmth.
Carpet padding comes in a variety of styles, including felt, urethane, rubber, as well as memory foam. While padding comes with its own performance ratings with some far outlasting others, your main focus should be on complimenting your carpet, not choosing solely for longevity. Some padding comes with a lifetime warranty and will extend your carpets life to the fullest, providing you maintain it according to guidelines.
Keep in mind that you should never lay a new carpet over an old pad. In most cases a pad has provided its useful life with the old carpeting, and because all carpets require different levels of support, its rare that your new carpet requires the same provision.
If you are laying new carpet in your home to combat health or allergy issues, also keep in mind that both padding and carpeting can come with green label certification. Look for both with low levels of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and choose the lowest possible.
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