While much of your carpet’s comfort is dependent on the type and construction of its fibers, the padding underneath is what adds the cushioning your feet feel with every step. Like the flooring itself, there are various types of carpet padding, each with its own advantages. When planning for your carpet installation, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is what type of carpet padding to choose. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the most popular carpet pads available at Empire Today® and help you understand the benefits of each.
Carpet will give your home a warm and soft touch, but maximizing its comfort and ensuring its longevity requires an extra layer of support—and that’s where carpet padding comes in. The padding provides an important layer of cushioning that serves a few key purposes: it provides additional comfort underfoot, helps protect the subfloors beneath your carpet, and extends your carpet’s longevity.
Having the proper padding is the key to maximizing comfort for anyone walking or playing on your floors. The thicker the padding, the more cushioned your carpeted floor will feel. This is one of the key differences between wall-to-wall carpets and area rugs, which typically do not have any padding. The fibers may feel the same on the surface, but a rug is never as comfortable as carpeting. This difference is especially noticeable on extra hard flooring surfaces like tile or bare concrete. Carpet padding can also decrease noise in your home and even help with temperature regulation.
If you’ve lived with carpet in your home for any length of time, you’ve probably had to deal with an unfortunate spill onto those floors. In addition to the potential for staining your carpet, the worry with liquid messes is that they will soak through to the pad underneath. And while that’s not something that anyone wants to happen, it’s actually better than the alternative: those liquids seeping into the subfloor below. Padding can help absorb spills, preventing damage to your subfloors, which can include mold, mildew, and even structural degradation.
A good carpet pad also helps extend the useful life of the carpet itself. In high-traffic areas, padding helps absorb the compression from footsteps, moved furniture, and the endless activity that goes on in a busy home. By bearing the brunt of those forces, carpet pads reduce wear on the surface fibers themselves, helping your carpet look and perform better for longer.
Carpet padding is available in a range of thicknesses and densities, and is generally made from one of three different materials:
Fiber: Crafted from natural or synthetic fibers compressed into a dense mat, fiber carpet padding is a low-profile pad that has less cushioning but offers firm support.
Foam: Just like the material that makes up your couch cushions or mattress pad. There are multiple different types of foam carpet pads, like memory foam or rebond foam padding, which each have different traits.
Rubber: Similar in construction to a typical yoga mat, rubber carpet pads offer an extremely soft, durable support layer for your carpet. They help reduce noise and help prevent spills and moisture from reaching your subfloor.
Carpet pads are categorized by two main attributes: pad thickness and density.
A carpet pad’s density is measured in weight per cubic foot; the higher the weight the denser the pad, with the denser pads generally being more durable and offering better sound dampening. Pad weights typically range from 3-10 pounds, with a few heavier or lighter options. The most common carpet padding types are in the 6-8-pound range.
As for thickness, most carpet pads fall somewhere between ¼-inch and ½-inch thick, with 7/16-inch being a very common choice. There are thinner pads available, usually recommended for Berber or commercial carpets, and there are options that are thicker than average—but those are not often recommended as they can decrease your carpet’s overall longevity.
So how do you choose what type of carpet padding is best? There’s no universal answer when trying to pick the best carpet padding for your home, and the options may get a bit confusing, but we’re here to help. Consider these factors to help navigate this decision.
Not all styles of carpet have the same padding needs. Low-profile carpets, such as Berber, should use thinner padding. While it may seem like thicker padding would make up for Berber’s not-so-fluffy construction, using too soft a pad underneath can lead to the short fibers stretching too much, accelerating wear to the carpet. So, a thin yet cushy carpet pad will offer better support for a Berber carpet. Conversely, high-pile carpets are best complemented by a thicker, dense type of padding. And indoor/outdoor carpets will rarely ever use padding.
Where in the home will this carpet be installed and what function does that room serve? A busy kids’ bedroom on the top floor would benefit from the comfort and noise-reducing properties of a thick, robust padding type—both are factors that probably don’t apply to the lightly used dining room on the main floor. Having carpet installed directly over a concrete subfloor? Consider heavy weight padding to help keep your floors feeling warmer.
If you have kids or pets, you may want some extra protection for your floors. Consider carpet padding with a moisture barrier, which will help guard against potential damage from spills. Select pads at Empire® are built with PUP® Pet Urine Protection, a special treatment that helps prevent pet messes from soaking in and leaving permanent stains and odors. And some carpet pads offer Fresh Dimension® antimicrobial, which helps resist the growth of mold and mildew in damp environments.
When you choose Empire Today for your carpet installation, your price quote will include the cost of standard carpet padding. Most carpets we offer can be paired with one of a few different pads, depending on your personal preferences. Here are some of our most popular carpet pads:
Super Six – A 6-pound rebond foam carpet pad with a 7/16-inch thickness, Super Six is our all-arounder pad, offering good comfort and durability at a reasonable price.
Vegas Plus – Measuring in at ½-inch thick, this 8-pound rebond foam padding provides premium levels of comfort, durability, and noise reduction. It’s suited for high-traffic areas and is enhanced with both antimicrobial resistance and a moisture barrier.
Masterbond – This 8-pound, ½-inch carpet pad is prized for its hypoallergenic properties and 100% recycled foam construction.
Magnum – With an 8-pound, ¼-inch thick construction, Magnum is a preferred choice for use under most Berber products, helping extend the life of the carpet while still greatly upping its comfort level. Magnum features a 100% recycled construction, is Green Label-certified for improved indoor air quality, and includes Empire’s “life of the carpet” warranty.
Understanding the various padding options and choosing the best carpet padding type can be anything but simple. Your lifestyle, carpet type, and even your personal comfort preferences all influence what type of carpet padding you should choose. The good news is that this isn’t a decision you have to make yourself. During the in-home estimate for your carpet installation, the flooring professional will be happy to answer any of your carpet padding questions and provide an in-depth look at each type–even giving you the chance to experience what each carpet and padding combination feels like before you commit to a specific option. It’s just one more way that Empire makes it easy to get beautiful, comfortable floors in your home.
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