Carpet Padding, Which One is Right For Me?
There are many types of carpet padding on the market today. This can also be referred to as carpet cushion, but for this particular article we will refer to it as carpet pad. With all the different types of carpet several different types of padding are also available but which one do I buy and what are the differences? First let’s look at the different types of padding available to you when you are shopping for new carpet and pad.
Rebond carpet pad is the most widely used type of pad on the market today. About 90% of all residential installations are done with this type of padding. Carpet padding is manufactured in different grades. Most manufacturers list the different grades expressed as pounds except for a few which will be discussed later. For instance, 7/16” thick rebond pad may be sold in 4 lbs., 6 lbs., 8 lbs., or 10 lbs densities. The different densities are the result of different types of recycled materials being used in the padding. You will recognize this type of padding because most of time there will be a nylon mesh glued to the top of the pad that helps hold it together.
Urethane Foam Pad
This is usually a very inexpensive pad. It will not withstand much traffic and will flatten out very quickly if subjected to a lot of traffic, and so this is not a good choice for a residential application. Since the average life of a carpet in an apartment is 3 years you are most apt to find this type of padding there. Since it would be changed out often it is appealing because it is inexpensive. If left for a long time this type of padding will usually turn to dust and fall apart.
Wool or Fiber Carpet Pad
Wool pad or synthetic fiber pad is mostly used for Berber type carpets and in some commercial applications. They tend to be very dense since they are made from recycled fabrics or natural wool. These pads are great for a damp location such as a basement since they let water vapor pass through easily and they resist the growth of mold or mildew.
Waffle Pad or Pad Made From Rubber
Thirty to forty years ago this pad was much more popular than it is today. It is not nearly as good as a rebond pad and so most installers will not use it in a residential application. It is called waffle pad because it looks like a giant waffle. It is also not rated in pounds like other pad but in ounces.
These pads are the ones the carpet salesman usually tries to upsell you on. Saying they will be a moisture barrier, an odor eater, or a cure all for pet “accidents”. I could never recommend that you spend extra money on these types of pads. They will cause you to spend more money than necessary and will not solve your pet accident problem or odor issues. As a matter of fact, I think having one of these specialty type pads may actually make a pet accident worse. These pads usually have a layer of plastic on top of them or they are encased in plastic. So when your pet decides to urinate on the carpet then instead of going through the carpet and pad and down to the slab the urine is stopped after going through the carpet and tends to spread out more causing more of the carpet to be affected.
The same can be said if you have a moisture problem in your basement. There is no pad on the market that is going to protect you from mold or mildew. Spending the extra money on a pad that would help with pet urine or on a pad that is a moisture barrier is a waste of money, in my opinion. If you are thinking it will help you clean up the mess easier or prevent mold or mildew it will not. A better use of your money would be to upgrade the carpet, not the pad.
So Which One Do I Buy
Each manufacturer of carpet will have their own specifications for padding and it is best to follow those guidelines. They will require a certain thickness of pad and a minimum density. Most residential carpets are fine with a 7/16” thickness and a 6 – 8 pound density.
Also a thicker pad is not a better pad. Anything thicker than 7/16” could void the manufacturer’s warranty and cause such issues as wrinkling and premature wear. With a thicker pad you get more flexing of the carpet when you walk on it which, over time, could cause the wrinkling and premature wear.
So for most residential applications sticking with a rebond pad that is 7/16” thick and a 6 – 8 pound density is all you need. Don’t be fooled by the sales gimmicks and marketing tricks with all kinds of claims on their specialty type pads, either save the extra money or put that money into a better grade of carpet. You’ll be glad you did.