Choosing the Right Carpet Pad

Are You Choosing the Right Carpet Pad? You must choose the correct Carpet Padding if you want your new Carpet to last as long as possible.

Choosing the wrong Carpet Padding could cut the intended lifespan of your new carpet in half, not to mention voiding your new carpet warranty. 

Here’s what homeowners need to know about choosing the correct type of pad, selecting the proper thickness and density rating to match your new Carpet selection.

Carpet Padding Types

Carpet Padding Basics Explained

Select your new Carpet, then select the padding that will match the grade of carpet you have chosen and  the needs and goals you have set forth.

What does that mean? You don’t want your pad to wear out faster than your carpet.

There are many different types of padding available today in order to accommodate all the various carpet grades, types and styles.

In the next few pages, I will discuss the various types of pad that you will encounter when shopping for new carpeting for your home.

But first you need to know a few things about what makes one padding better than another.

Padding quality and suitability is always determined by three main factors.

1. Type of Material
2. Density / Weight
3. Thickness

The Carpet Manufacturer decides what padding is required for every carpet they make.

A certain type, thickness and density of padding is specified by the carpet manufacturer.

When choosing the right carpet pad, it must be capable of properly supporting your new carpet in order to maintain the new carpet warranty.

You can call the carpet manufacturer to find out what padding specifications are required for the carpet you select.

It is your responsibility to make sure  the right carpet padding is selected. Don’t assume the carpet salesperson knows what pad is required for your application.

Carpet Padding Thickness Explained

For most residential plush style carpets, a 7/16″ padding thickness is most common. Berber styles require a thinner padding. Usually 1/4″ to 3/8″.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a thicker pad is a better pad.

If you chose a padding that is too thick it can cause wrinkles to develop in your new carpet more quickly. If so, then you will void your new carpet warranty.

For most homes, 7/16″ is the thickest padding you should select to keep your new carpet warranty in force.

That said, 1/2″ thick padding is still a common choice and widely available from most carpet retailers. Read the manufacturers warranty or call the mill to verify what pad you should select.

Here is my List of Carpet Manufacturer Websites and Phone Numbers.

A Thicker Pad Feels Softer Underfoot

I don’t recommend installing a thicker padding unless you understand the possible consequences. Using a thicker pad will increase the chance of developing wrinkles over time and will instantly void your new carpet warranty.

Some folks choose a thicker pad for their bedrooms to make the carpet feel softer underfoot. Many choose a 9/16″, 5/8″, 3/4″  or even a 1″ thick pad.

However, thicker pad is getting harder to find these days. Instead, you can opt to have your carpet installer glue together two layers of pad to obtain the same result.

Your tackless strips may need to be doubled up to adjust for the increased height. That will add some additional labor cost.

Using a thicker padding can be an enjoyable addition to your bedroom.

While you may get away with using a thicker pad in bedrooms with very low foot traffic, using a thicker pad in other areas like stairs, hallways,  living rooms and family rooms would not be a good idea.

In areas with higher foot traffic, using a thicker padding would cause your new carpet to quickly develop ripples, waves and wrinkles.

It will cost you more to use a thicker pad
  • Extra Padding Cost
  • Additional Installation Charges.

Low-Profile Padding with Higher Density Rating Increases Carpet Durability.

Looped Berber carpet styles and commercial grade carpets tend to be more prone to wrinkling and therefore require a special low-profile, high density  padding. Usually a maximum of 1/4″ to 3/8″ thickness, and a density rating of 10 to 12 pounds.

If in doubt, you can always call the carpet manufacturer to get the correct padding requirements needed to keep from voiding your new carpet warranty.

Padding Density Explained

Padding quality is also determined by its Density Rating. Some pads have a low density rating of 3 to 4 pounds and is typically used in apartments and rental properties because it is less expensive and landlords know it will need to be replaced more frequently.

Padding for residential applications usually have a density rating of 6 to 8 pounds, but 10-pound density is also available and gaining in popularity.

Some folks prefer the 6-pound density padding because it is slightly softer underfoot. However, an 8-pound padding provides better support for your carpet.

A higher density rating generally make a carpet more resistant to wear and tear and abrasion. This is especially true in high traffic areas like stairs and hallways. I recommend using 8-pound density for most residential applications.

Some padding types are rated in ounces instead of pounds.

Pads made of foam are rated in pounds. The most common foam padding density for residential homes is 6-pound density. An 8-pound pad is heavier and therefore more dense. More and more carpet makers are requiring 8-pound pads as a warranty requirement because it provides better support.

Prime Urethane Foam Pad

Wool, Felt, Synthetic Fiber and Rubber Pads are weighed in ounces. For example, a pad of 128-ounce weight is the equivalent of an 8-pound pad. A 192-ounce pad is equal to 12-pound density.

What Homeowners Need To Know About Choosing the Right Carpet Pad

  • The higher the density rating, the more costly the padding will be.
  • Do not rely on the carpet salesperson to choose the correct pad for you, it is your responsibility to make sure the correct type of pad is selected and installed.
  • If the wrong type, thickness or density is selected, your carpet may develop wrinkles over time and your new carpet warranty may be voided.
  • If unsure, call the carpet manufacturer to see what Padding Specifications are required for the carpet you have selected.
  • Take my free Carpet Foot-Traffic Test to help determine the grade of carpet you need to install in your home.

Beware of Unnecessary Padding Upgrades

It’s real easy to pay too much for pad, especially if you follow bad advice from an inexperienced carpet salesperson. There are many types of padding available but choosing the right pad can be challenging. Don’t blindly agree to any padding upgrade until you have a chance to do your padding homework!

You Probably Don’t Need a Specialty Pad

Don’t be swayed by a carpet salesperson who says you need to spend more for a pad that has a moisture barrier. Chances are good that you do not need a moisture barrier pad. In fact, moisture barrier pads can help cause mold and mildew to form underneath your padding. If your basement has moisture problems, a moisture barrier pad is the wrong pad for you.

You also don’t need the pad that has baking soda infused to help eliminate pet odors. The cost is high and the benefit is low. Even the box of baking soda you have placed in the back of your refrigerator needs to be replaced once a month. How long do you think the baking soda infused inside a 1/2″ thick pad will remain effective? Not long enough to make it a worthwhile padding upgrade I bet.

What about Padding That Will Extend Your New Carpet Warranty?

Carpet makers like Shaw and Mohawk now offer a special branded padding that if you buy it, they will increase the length of your New Carpet Warranty by up to 10 years.

I think the increase in carpet warranty length is just a slick marketing ploy to get you to spend more on a padding that you can surely do without. Sure, it’s a good quality pad, but it’s way overpriced.

Seasoned Carpet professionals are painfully aware that New Carpet Warranties are not worth the paper they are written on, and the fact is, a longer warranty will rarely end up beneficial to you.

It practically takes an act of congress to substantiate a valid new carpet warranty claim and even if you do, they only cover affected areas and pro rate your replacement credit based on the age of your carpet.

Specialty pads will certainly cost you more today but from my perspective they provide little to no measurable benefits to you in the long run. Frankly, I believe they are a total waste of your hard earned money.

Read more about Carpet Padding Specifications.


More about Carpet Padding:

Types of Carpet Padding

Specialized Carpet Pads Carpet Professor

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