Carpet padding

Your Complete Guide To Carpet Padding – Which Is The Best?

By Fortino Rosas / December 18, 2020 / 1 Comments

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    Have you recently decided to replace your carpets with a new color? You may have the carpet design, color, and material you want, but what’s missing? You need carpet padding to add an underlayment for your flooring. Some people ignore the importance of placing padded foundations under their carpets, and they soon regret it.

    Padding has nothing to do with style but it has everything to do with catering to your daily needs. It’s the technical side of carpet shopping and it’s a necessity. But you shouldn’t pick just any carpet padding because not all of them are the same.

    It’s important to pick underlayment that’s durable and helps extend the longevity of your carpets. So today, I’ll be giving you a complete guide to help you find the correct padded material for your floors. Keep reading to find out what carpet pads are and why it’s important to have them.

    What Is Carpet Padding?

    Carpet padding or underlay is a thick, even layer of material that serves as the foundation for installing carpets. The padding can be made from a variety of materials such as nylon, foam, and fiber. If you have rough concrete flooring, then you’ll need padding to prevent the rough surface from rubbing against– and damaging– the underside of your carpets.

    What Is Carpet Padding?

    The padded material is typically soft but highly durable, and easy to install. You’ll glue the material down so that it doesn’t move when you install your carpets. These carpet foams or pads come in a variety of thicknesses and sizes. You’ll simply need to pick one that fits your requirements.

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    Why You Should Add Padding Under Your Carpets

    So why should you install padding before your carpets? Is it necessary and can you skip this process? Well, it’s a necessity to have a cushioned foundation before installing your carpet. Let’s find out why it’s important to add carpet underlayment in this next section.

    Extends The Life Of Your Carpet

    If you have a rough subfloor made from concrete or brick, the rough surface will rub against the underside of your carpets. The rough surface can cause holes in your carpets and increase significant wear in areas with high foot traffic. Carpets can lose more than 19% of their thickness if there is no foam creating a barrier between them and hard floors underneath.

    The foam padding is an added layer of protection between your carpets and the rough floor. Foam pads will prevent the rough surface of the floors from scraping against your carpets, which in turn prolongs the longevity of your carpets.

    Carpet Padding Adds Thermal Insulation

    Concrete and brick floors don’t retain heat. As a result, you may find that your home is colder during winter. Homeowners who live in colder regions can benefit from padded foundations under their carpets because it adds thermal insulation.

    Depending on the material you use as a foundation, it can help to retain the heat inside your home so it’s warmer and cozier. On the other hand, if you live in a warmer environment, the carpet padding can prevent cool air from escaping.

    Therefore, if you want to save on utility costs, then padding will definitely help. The insulated foam will help regulate the temperatures inside your home without the need for expensive HV/AC systems.

    Completely Soundproof Your Floors

    Have you ever lived in an apartment building and could hear the footsteps from your neighbors above you? Chances are, they didn’t have proper carpet padding so the floors were not soundproofed. Sound-absorbing materials such as foam are necessary for apartments and businesses so that normal footfalls do not cause a disturbance.

    So if you don’t want noise disturbances to be a problem in your home, you’ll benefit from carpet padding. As a result, you’ll sleep more peacefully if you have people that come home late at night because you won’t hear their footsteps. Additionally, if you have pets, you won’t hear the click-clack of their paws on the floor.

    Extra Comfort

    Sitting or standing on a hard floor can hurt after a while. Some people think that thick carpets with tall piles will add comfort, but that’s not the case. No matter how thick your carpet is, your flooring won’t be comfortable without padding.

    It’s important to pick carpet padding that’s soft and thick so you can add comfort to your flooring. If you pick the correct padding, your floors will feel soft under your feet when you walk. This is because the foam has the ability to absorb the impact of your footsteps. Additionally, if you suffer from foot pain, carpet cushioning can help to relieve some of the pressure on your feet.

    Hypoallergenic Flooring

    The best carpet padding on the market is hypoallergenic, but only if you select from the synthetic variety. Select a product that has no traces of animal hair or plant fibers if you are allergic to these materials. Instead, select nylon. Even if you don’t suffer from allergies, this ensures that your guests and family members can be comfortable too.

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    How To Pick The Correct Carpet Padding

    Now that you know what carpet padding is and why you need it, I will give you the lowdown on how to pick the best cushioning for your floors. You must pick floor pads that are non-toxic and durable. Take a look at additional features you should consider when shopping for carpet padding.


    Before you pick padding for the foundation of your carpets, you must first consider the weight of the product. This is also referred to as carpet padding density. The weight of the cushioning is measured by pounds per cubic foot. Typically, floor padding can weigh between three pounds and 10 pounds per cubic foot.

    How To Pick The Correct Carpet Padding

    To get the best cushioning for your floors, pick padding that’s between eight pounds and nine pounds in density for your home. Padding with these weights are more durable and provide the most comfort.


    You may think that the thick padding would always be a suitable option, but that’s not necessarily true in the carpeting industry. In fact, thinner padding works better with certain types of carpets. The floor cushioning you select shouldn’t exceed a half an inch. This is because thicker padding can damage thin carpets such as those made from Berber. Thick floor pads have too much give for this type of carpeting, so install padding that’s at least 3/8 inches in cases like these.

    For commercial places or areas that experience high foot traffic, thicker padding is not ideal. In this situation, you’ll need thinner cushioning with a heavier weight. On the other hand, thicker padding is suitable for bedrooms and living rooms to provide more comfort, soundproofing, and insulation.


    If you’re environmentally aware, then you may consider padding that’s eco-friendly. There are some options made from sustainable materials such as recycled plastic bottles. The advantage of sustainable materials is that they minimize litter and reduce allergic reactions.

    What’s The Vapor Barrier?

    Spills on carpets are inevitable. If you have children or pets, you’ll probably be cleaning up more spills than you’d like to. Since padding is so absorbent, these liquids can soak deep into the fibers of the material. As a result, such spills can lead to damaged flooring.

    Fortunately, modern floor padding comes with a vapor barrier, which is essentially a protective layer that prevents liquids from soaking into the cushioning. Some products offer protection for up to 24 hours so liquids won’t immediately seep into the cushioning after you spill liquids onto your carpet. Still, you should clean a spill quickly after it happens to prevent floor damage.

    Pre-Attached Padding

    Installing carpet rolls can be a challenge, especially when doing so over a layer of padding. That’s why some rolls come with pre-attached padding that’s perfectly designed for that particular carpet. This reduces the time it takes to shop for the correct padding and to install it before layering your carpets over the foundation.

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    Types Of Carpet Padding

    There are four types of padding to pick from and all of them have different features, pros, and cons. This section will help you decide which padded flooring material will be ideal for your home.

    Prime Foam

    Prime foam carpet padding is made with virgin polyurethane rather than from recycled materials. This type of foam is similar to the material used in furniture, only it’s more dense. Although it’s denser than other types of foam, it does tend to sink more quickly. Therefore, it’s not suitable for high traffic areas. On the other hand, it has air pockets to allow for a softer step. Furthermore, prime foam is affordable, so padding your entire home before installing carpets won’t break the bank.

    Memory Foam

    Memory foam is one of the softest materials on the market and it’s commonly used to make mattresses, couches, and even beanbags. This type of foam bounces back and so it doesn’t lose its form, but can lose its elasticity over time. Memory foam also tends to constantly stretch your carpet backing, which causes wear and tear over time.

    Types Of Carpet Padding

    However, memory foam padding is the softest material you can get and it’s incredibly durable. This floor cushioning is suitable for areas that have low foot traffic such as bedrooms or dining rooms. Memory foam also comes with a high price tag, so only use it for certain parts of your home such as in the bedroom to save on cash.

    Fiber Padding

    Fiber padding is made from a combination of various synthetic fibers such as felt, polyester and nylon. Fiber padding is typically thinner than other types of cushioning, so it’s suitable for carpet types such as Berber.

    This type of floor padding isn’t as soft, but it’s incredibly durable, which makes it ideal for commercial use or for areas with high foot traffic. What’s more, it’s an inexpensive material so you’ll save money. The downside to fiber padding is that there have been traces of natural fibers found in the cushioning, which can cause allergies. Unfortunately, fiber padding is also prone to mold.

    Rebonded Padding

    Rebonded padding is the most popular choice because most of the underlayment products in the United States are rebonded. The reason this type of floor cushioning is so common is that it’s made with 100% recycled materials, making it an eco-friendly product.

    The rebonded underlayment comes in a variety of thicknesses and densities, so they’re suitable for any type of carpet. Additionally, bonded padding is highly durable and provides the best value for money. This type of underlayment is ideal for commercial and residential areas which makes it versatile. The carpet underlayment will stand up to low or high foot traffic areas and it will protect your carpets from wear and tear.

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    FAQs About Carpet Padding

    What Is The Best Carpet Padding To Use?

    The best carpet padding to use in residential, lower-traffic areas is memory foam, also known as frothed foam. This floor underlayment is incredibly durable and it has a higher density rating than other types of foam. When weight is placed on memory foam, it depresses but then returns to its original form when the weight is lifted.

    Memory foam is considered the best choice for carpet underlayment because of the comfort it provides. It pairs well with broadloom carpeting. Memory foam has been injected with a gel that gives it that cushy feeling.

    How Much Does Carpet Padding Cost?

    Selecting padding with the features you want is all good and well, but what about carpet padding costs? Floor cushioning can be relatively cheap, but cost depends on the quality and the brand you pick. On average you can expect to pay between $189 and $425 to cover a 9’’x9’’ room. Or it will cost you $3.75 per square foot including labor. For rebond underlayment you can expect to pay between $0.39 and $0.45 per square foot.

    Even though carpet padding is relatively easy to install yourself, it’s probably best to get a professional to complete the installation for you. This will save you a lot of time and ensure that your flooring is even. So when you’re shopping for carpet underlayment, factor in the cost of labor, too, so you can budget accordingly.

    You don’t need any special tools to get the job done, so there will be no extra costs on equipment. If you do need equipment to install your carpets on top of your padding, you can rent tools instead of buying them to help save on costs.

    What’s The Difference Between Types Of Carpet Padding?

    The main difference between types of carpet padding is the type of recycled materials used to manufacture the underlayment. Another difference is the density of the padding. If the floor pads are made with high-quality recycled material, they will perform better.

    You may spend more money on high-quality padding, but at least you know the product will last and it will protect your carpets from wear and tear. As a rule of thumb, the padding you select must match the grading of the carpet you want. For example, if you’ve bought wall-to-wall carpeting that’s made to last 12 years, then your padding must last that long too.

    Which Side Of The Carpet Padding Faces The Floor Underneath?

    Your carpet pad will have one side that’s smoother and shinier than the other side. This is the side of the pad that must face upwards. The rougher side will be the underside of the padding. The smooth side must face upward so the carpet can easily slide over the padding.

    Furthermore, the shiny side is your moisture barrier that prevents liquids from soaking into the padding. Therefore, the underlayment won’t absorb liquids that come into contact with the carpet as a result of cleaning processes or accidental spills.

    It’s important for your underlayment to have a moisture barrier to prevent mold growth and premature wear and tear. So ensure that when you install your carpet padding that the shiny, smooth surface is facing upwards.

    Is Upgrading Carpet Padding Worth It?

    Yes, it’s worth upgrading your carpet padding because it will preserve your carpets and provide more comfort when walking on your floors. Over time your underlayment may lose its elasticity and can stretch out. If you’re not careful, the old padding’s moisture barrier may lose its effectiveness, and could result in water damage or mold growth.

    Replacing your padding instead of your carpet is a budget-friendly way to spruce up your flooring. Simply replacing the underlayment can improve the look and feel of your carpets. The underlayment may even prolong the carpet’s service life even further.

    A general rule of thumb is to replace your carpet padding every five years. But do some inspections beforehand to ensure your underlayment is still in excellent condition. If you notice that your floor has become uneven, and some parts of your floor are harder than others, it can be a sign of wear. If this happens then it’s time to replace your padding.

    What Is A Good Carpet Pad Thickness?

    An excellent carpet pad thickness is a quarter of an inch with six pounds per square foot for residential use. But this will also depend on the type of carpet you have. A high-cut pile with lots of textures and twists should have padding of half an inch underneath. If you pick low-cut pile carpets such as Berber or loop patterns, then you must have an underlayment that’s ⅜ inches thick or less.

    Thick carpet padding isn’t always the best choice because it can lead to quicker wear of your carpet and flooring. Some carpet manufacturers will let you know what thickness your underlayment must be according to the carpet type.

    How Thick Are The Carpet And Pad Together?

    Your carpet and padding combined will be ⅜ of an inch thick. But this will depend on the type of carpeting and padding you pick. If you have a high-cut pile carpet that’s ¾ of an inch thick and padding that’s ¼ inch thick, the combined thickness will be one inch.

    High-density carpets are more durable and if you have the proper padding underneath with the correct thickness. In these cases your flooring can last up to 15 years. Having the proper combined thickness of carpet and padding will reduce wear and tear and be perfect for residential and commercial areas with high foot traffic.

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    Final Thoughts

    Now that you know more about carpet padding, which type of material will you pick for your carpets? As mentioned before, rebond underlayment is the most popular choice because of its excellent durability and sustainability. You may want to pick rebond underlayment if you suffer from allergies because this padding is made with synthetic materials that are hypoallergenic.

    Rebond padding comes in a variety of densities and thicknesses for you to pick from, so you can use it for any type of carpeting. This underlayment is suitable for commercial and residential use because of its durability.

    If you want more comfort and a more cushy flooring option, memory foam will be ideal for you. But this type of underlayment isn’t as durable as other options, and is only suitable for areas that don’t have high foot traffic, such as bedrooms.

    Have you installed carpet padding in your home recently? What products did you use, and how easy was it to install? Let us know by leaving a comment below. We always look forward to reading comments and additional suggestions from our readers.

    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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    1 thought on “Your Complete Guide To Carpet Padding – Which Is The Best?”

    1. We are trying to decide to have carpet padding glued on the concrete or have the manufacture add it to the carpeting at the time it is manufactured. Please help?

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