Are you in the middle of planning a remodel for your home? Are you dreaming of new carpets in the bedroom? Or maybe a plush carpet in the family media room?
Before you get excited about the color, the style, or the pattern, maxing out your budget on your selection, there’s another thing to consider: the padding.
Selecting padding isn’t about choosing the cheapest in stock. Not just any padding will do. You need to select one that works best with the type of carpet you install.
The purpose of carpet padding
How well your carpet performs in the years to come isn’t based entirely on the quality of carpet you install. It’s also determined by the padding.
Padding absorbs the impact of foot traffic. Without a high quality pad, the lifespan of your carpet is shortened. Padding is a shock absorber between the carpet and the subfloor. The more impact, the more damage is done.
Padding also muffles sounds, and adds a layer of thermal insulation. And that can be a big deal here in Colorado, especially on a cold winter’s night. Plus there’s something about digging your toes deep into a plush carpet on a cold morning. The softness just feels good, doesn’t it?
Padding can also protect your warranty. Some manufacturers actually require certain padding to maintain the warranty. If you don’t follow their guidelines, you might not have a warranty in place from the moment you install it.
Indentation testing and ranking
The purpose of padding is to take the abuse of foot traffic and give your carpet added protection throughout its lifespan. Manufacturers have set up ways to rate carpet cushion performance based on the density of the padding.
You might find rankings listed using a number of different terms:
- Indentation load deflection – LDL
- Indentation force deflection – IFD
- Compression load deflection – CLD
- Compression force deflection – CFD
All of these and more have been used to describe the test method for evaluating carpet cushion.
Essentially, what these methods do is evaluate the limits of the padding. A sample is taken and fed into a machine that applies pressure to determine the firmness, stiffness, and load-bearing capacity of the sample itself.
While they all have the same goal, their methods vary. That means you can’t necessarily evaluate one product to the next easily. Firmness affects performance. A higher quality padding means more comfort and better performance. It also helps your carpet last longer, and keeps it looking newer throughout its lifespan.
Another look at carpet pad thickness
We live in a world where bigger is better. If something is larger, thicker, or more expensive, we automatically assume it’s the best.
Not so with carpet padding. Thicker padding isn’t always the best for your situation.
Most carpets on the market today call for a pad that is 7/16” in height. However, that isn’t always the case.
If you choose to install a Berber carpet, for example, manufacturers may suggest moving down in height size for the padding. A thicker pad can have too much give, and cause movement underneath the carpet. This can cause damage to the carpet.
This is another reason to visit our flooring store, where our job is based solely on education and ensuring you get the most from the flooring material you select. Saying “yes” to internet deals, or choosing something from a big box store will allow a salesperson to sell you on what they have in stock. It might not be what’s the best for what you’re selecting, which means your giving up lifespan almost from the start.
Understanding pad weight
We mentioned pad weight is important in the ranking process, but it deserves a little more attention.
Density is typically measured in pounds. When you shop for a pad, you’ll most likely see it listed somewhere between 3 and 10 pounds. Most manufacturers suggest an 8 pound pad for best results. This gives structure and firmness underneath your carpet, and ensures wearability throughout the life of your carpet.
Padding weight will also change based on the type of padding you select.
- Foam – is usually between 2 to 5 pounds
- Frothed foam – 12 pounds or more for maximum durability
- Rebond – you’ll find it in the 5 to 10 pound range, but go with 6 or greater for maximum durability
- Memory foam – this comes with higher densities in the 18 to 22 range
- Synthetic – you’ll often find this rated in ounces instead of pounds. 40 ounces, would be right at 7 pounds
- Waffle rubber – this also is listed in ounces, many dealers prefer 90 ounces or more for maximum performance
Which padding material is for you?
Let’s look at each of the different types of carpet padding and discuss their pros and cons.
Foam pad – foam padding is at the bottom of the list. It’s often the least expensive, and you’ll likely find this included on deals – if a dealer offers free padding, this is most likely what you’ll get. This product breaks down quickly, and most likely won’t last more than 3 to 5 years. This can be good for temporary solutions, but for any longevity, it’s better to move into a higher quality pad.
Frothed foam – what separates frothed foam from standard foam padding is the way it’s manufactured. Foam has gas added to the mixture, which can create air pockets. Frothed foam is a much sturdier pad, and can and will last the life of any carpet you choose. It’s also at the other end of the cost spectrum, however, being one of the most expensive pads on the market.
Rebond – rebond is one of the most popular pads because it’s in the middle of effectiveness and price. You’ll find this handles well in many situations, without adding too much cost to your overall purchase. Pay attention to the warranty of the carpet you select, however, because not all carpets allow rebond padding to be placed underneath.
Memory foam – you are probably familiar with the way this feels from purchasing a mattress for your bed. It can be a great pad choice for longevity and standing up well in high traffic situations. Yet be careful with quality. Memory foam squishes down. Over time, that can impact the performance of your carpet. Be sure the two work well together before you invest in this type of padding.
Synthetic – synthetic pads are fibrous and aren’t very spongy. That makes these a good choice for Berber carpets and other natural fibers. Consider synthetic pads if your warranty directs you to this option.
Waffle rubber – this offers similar durability as rebond, but can be higher priced. It performs in a similar manner to rebond padding.
What other questions do you have about carpet padding?