Carpet padding is the material that is installed before carpet in order to make it softer and more comfortable to walk on. It can be made from foam, nylon, fiber or a blend of two or more materials. There are several types of residential padding: 

  • Bonded foam – Also called rebond, this carpet backing is made from recycled foam and has a confetti appearance because of this. It is durable, affordable, and available anywhere. 
  • Synthetic fiber – Synthetic fiber padding is thicker, usually used for commercial purposes. It is stronger but not necessarily better than bonded foam for thinner carpet types. It is typically made of recycled carpet fibers like nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. 
  • Memory foam – Memory foam is the softest padding available. While it is luxurious in low traffic areas, it is not the best choice for heavily traveled areas because small air pockets in the frothed urethane can break down over time. 
  • Felt – Also known as recycled jute, felt is the go-to choice for padding under rugs and oddly shaped carpet areas. It is easy to cut to any size or shape, and it is mold and milder resistant. 

What Does Carpet Padding Do?

There are quite a few benefits of carpet backing. Carpet padding is inexpensive compared to the cost of the carpet itself, and it is usually figured into your total flooring cost. If you are carpeting an area yourself, don’t skip this step! Padding improves the way your carpet performs and you’ll definitely be able to tell a difference if you try to skimp on this pre-installation material. 

Here’s a list of the advantages that the right carpet pad can provide: 

  • Reduces noise from everyday movement in the room and for lower floors. 

Even for louder activities like music, movies and parties, padding will help muffle the sounds outside of the room. 

  • Lessens the stress of foot traffic on the carpet. 

Padding takes the majority of the pressure from footsteps so the fibers can spring back up to their original position. 

  • Increases softness and comfort. 

Most people choose carpet over hardwood and other bare flooring materials because of the softness and coziness it can lend to any room. The padding, not the actual carpet, is responsible for much of that effect. 

  • Prevents stains from soaking into the subfloor. 

Not that it’s an easy feat, but stains can be removed from carpet and the padding underneath with professional carpet cleaning. At the very worst, a section of the carpet and padding can be replaced if the stain is set in or if mold growth develops. If wetness or mold makes it to the subflooring, you could end up replacing a large section of the floor. 

  • Increases the lifespan of your carpet. 

Springy, soft padding, especially bonded foam, is designed to take the impact of footsteps so your carpet doesn’t have to. As you walk across carpet with appropriate padding underneath, the padding will take the majority of the stress, leaving the carpet fibers free to spring back into place with minimal stress. 

  • Adds insulation. 

Although several different materials can be used to make padding, the thing that all have in common is that they are insulating to some degree. Not only will your carpet be more insulated for sound with padding underneath, but it will also prevent loss of heated and cooled air. 

Why is Carpet Padding Important? 

When you are buying new or replacing older carpet, padding definitely needs to be a part of your decision. Quality padding protects expensive carpeting, and it offsets the effect of heavy foot traffic in busy areas of your home. 

Most carpet installers will have a standard recommendation based on the carpet you choose, but it doesn’t hurt to ask questions to make sure you are getting the best padding for your carpet. 

The thickness and density of your carpet pad will be a big factor in how well your carpet holds up over time. 

If you are buying your own carpet independent of an installer, you need to understand the differences between the types of carpet padding in order to choose the best type for your carpet or rug. Several things need to be considered when you are choosing padding: 

  • Carpet type – A more delicate carpet needs thinner padding, but so does commercial carpeting. It takes a lot of knowledge about carpet types to choose the best padding for each type. 
  • Location – Where the carpet will be determines the amount of foot traffic it will get. This is important because you want both your carpet and the padding beneath to stand up to your family’s lifestyle. 
  • Softness – The level of comfort under foot is the whole reason some people still prefer carpeted floors. Memory foam is very soft, but you have to balance this softness with the durability of other padding types. 
  • Eco-friendly – If being good to the environment is important to you, there are certain types of padding that are made from recycled materials. Therefore, they are more eco-friendly than other types. 
  • Cost – Cost is not a major factor in this decision for a couple of reasons. First, padding doesn’t cost very much per square foot anyway and is often figured into your total carpet cost. Second, most types of carpet have a recommended padding type, so there isn’t much opportunity to switch to a cheaper option. 
  • Purpose – As we just explained, some types of carpet backing are designed for specific purposes. Some work well under rugs, while others are better suited for full floors of carpet. 

A couple of examples of this include the following. Remember these are rules of thumb rather than absolutes. 

  • Carpets that are cut pile, including residential carpets with textures, twists, and loops will need padding that is ½ inch thick or less. 
  • Also as a general rule, low pile and commercial carpets need padding that is 3/8” or less.

Questions concerning carpet padding, carpet or carpet cleaning? A+ Restoration & Cleaning is your local source for professional mold remediation and carpet and upholstery cleaning. We would be happy to help answer any questions you have prior to purchasing carpet to ensure the best choice for your home!