Carpet Pad

Don’t Make a Padding Mistake

Today’s carpets require special padding unlike the carpets of even ten years ago. If you do not follow the manufacturer’s padding guidelines, you will void your carpet warranty. It is up to the professional carpet dealer to inform you of the correct padding for each particular need. Remember the most expensive pad you will ever get is the FREE PAD offered by many floorcovering stores.

Types of Padding

Waffle Rubber:

This type of padding is still being used today but often improperly. The waffle part of the padding gives it a thickness that is mostly air, and as a result, any of this type of padding rated less than 90 ounces is still too soft for today’s plastic backed carpets. Also, despite claims to the contrary, the rubber used to make these paddings is held together with clay type binders that break down with use.

Foam Padding

This type of padding is made from urethane foam and is available in different densities and thickness. Generally this type of pad is referred to a “prime foam”, but, regardless of the thickness, is not recommended for heavy traffic of any kind. All that air under the carpet just causes the carpet to move up and down so much that the backing soon breaks down. Some enhancements have been tried like loading the foam with binders to make it heavier, or compressing the cells. However, both of these methods leaves a foam that still does not support the carpet like other types of padding.


A quick update about rebond pad. The price of rebond goes up and down depending on the avialability of foam scrap. It is going to be difficult to predict what the price will be week to week. Often there is a shortage of scrap mostly due to production of furniture being moved to China. China also buys all the scrap foam it can. The higher rebond goes up in price, the more affordable froth foam (a superior pad to most rebonds) will become.

This type of padding is used most often by the floorcovering industry. It is made from of scraps of the high density foams used in furniture making that are bonded together. Rebond padding comes in various thicknesses and densities . The density is rated at so many pounds per cubic foot. For example, a 5 lb rebond pad would weigh 5lb per cubic foot. The carpet cushion council recommends a pad of at least 5lbs and 3/8 inch thickness for light traffic (your living room), and a pad of 6.5 lbs and 3/8 inch for heavy traffic (hallways). These are minimum guidelines, and I suggest that a 7 to 7.5 lb pad for longer wear. Also, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recommends that for residential use, the pad shall not exceed 7/16ths inch. I am sure this is because proper alignment with the tackstrip is best for a nicer looking finished product, and there is a less of a chance for too much up and down movement in the carpet. For top of the line reobnd, look for those made out of memory foam.

There is a lot of talk about mositure barriers included in some rebond pads. Most mositure barriers are just a vinyl skin that is glued to the surface of the rebond pad. This sounds like a good idea, and is sold as a “pet proof” pad. In fact, this is at best a great marketing tool. However it does allow the “spill” to spread underneath the carpet and affect a larger area of the carpet. This could lead to more of the carpet backing failing, and thus damaging more of the carpet than if the spill had soaked into the pad. There are a few pads with a “breatheable” moisture barrier. Ask your dealer about them.

Slab Rubber:

For the more luxury and long wear one could use 100 ounce 19lb density slab rubber padding. Unlike the waffle rubber padding, slab rubber does not contain big ripples of air. This pad feels much like 7lb rebond, but will resist furniture indentation and crushing for a much longer period of time. I recommend this pad for the highest of traffic areas.


These pads are used when one wants to limit the movement in a piece of carpet. This pad can be made from jute, or hair mixed with jute, or synthetic fiber, or recycled textile fiber. Most often these pads are used under area rugs, under commercial carpets, and under some berber carpets. The key here is density. Spun nylon is best. Stay with at least 7.5 lbs per cubic ft. density on the synthetic fiber, and 12 lb density on the jute pads. Thickness should be between 3/8 and 7/16 inch. Total weight should be 40 ounces per square yard.

Berber Pad:

Only some berber carpets require special padding. If your carpet dealer normally sells a light weight pad as his regular padding, then you WILL need a special pad. The general rule is the bigger the loop in the berber the firmer the padding should be. Also, as noted above, rebond should be avoided under berber carpets.

Frothed Foam

The ultimate padding on the market is Frothed Foam. This pad is a super dense urethane and is made 7/16ths inch thick. It is extremely durable, can be used under all carpets, will reduce furniture indentations, and prolong the life of your carpet better than any rebond, fiber, waffle rubber or prime foam. It cost about the same as a good slab rubber padding and will last longer.

Special Circumstances:

There are certain carpets that require unique pad usage. One of those is the woven carpet. These carpets must be installed over a extra heavy super dense fiber pad or , in some cases, a heavy flat frothed foam. This frothed foam also works well with radiant heated floors.

Also, If you have a carpet that is being used in a commercial installation, check to see if this type of carpet is available with its own self-attached backing. This backing is built by the mill to optimize the performance of its carpet.

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