Choosing the right carpet for your home is a big project. Just as you breathe a sigh of relief that you’ve made the perfect choice, you are told about the pad options. More decisions! And, while you don’t see the pad, don’t think it doesn’t matter what is underneath your carpet – the right pad can make all the difference in how your carpet performs. Padding is more than the softness under your carpet. It also provides support for your legs and back (and the carpet).

Pad basics: Height vs. density

The Carpet and Rug Institute, as well as the carpet manufacturers, recommend that for most installations, a 7/16 – 6lb pad be used. 7/16 refers to the height (other common pad sizes are 3/8, and 1/2 inch.  A 3/8 pad height is generally used under flat carpets such as patterned, Berbers and commercial installations. There is only 1/16 of an inch difference between 7/16 and ½ padding – and the difference is hard to distinguish.

Padding also has a density. Generally 6lb and 8lb pads are the most common. Pad density refers to how much one cubic foot of material weighs when put on a scale – 8lb pad will feel slightly firmer than 6lb pad and provides better back support.

Pad structure

The majority of padding used today is a rebond that is made from unused, leftover scraps of foam used in mattresses, furniture, and car cushions. These scraps are chopped up and then bonded together to create the padding.

Although there are other cushion-types available, such as rubber and urethane products, rebond remains the padding of choice for most installations. It is a tried-and-true product that offers superior performance and comfort underfoot.

Not all rebond padding is created equal though. Better-grade products have a webbing on the back, which gives the product stability so that it doesn’t deteriorate.

You can increase the performance of your new carpet even more by upgrading to a pad that has a moisture barrier on top. This prevents spills from depositing into the padding and then wicking back up into the carpet.

Many customers have complained that they clean their carpet only to have the stains come back months later. As you walk on your carpeting, any moisture and staining properties down in the pad will be pulled up and restain the carpet. A moisture barrier padding will keep the spill and stain up in the carpet itself. Once you clean the spot – the stain is gone. Moisture padding is a great investment for dining rooms and family rooms where most food and beverage stains happen. It is also a great product for people who have pets that aren’t house-trained and tend to return to the same spots, because the scent won’t penetrate into the pad.

In addition to moisture padding, you can add even more protection to your flooring by using an antimicrobial pad that prohibits the growth of mold and bacteria.

Finally, if you want the ultimate comfort and performance, select a pad that combines the moisture and antimicrobial protection with a viscoelastic foam made from heavy mattress padding that springs back into shape after each step. (Think Tempur-Pedic mattress) This superior product offers outstanding performance and comfort that you could easily fall asleep on.

Good-quality padding is an excellent investment and will prolong not only the life of your carpet, but also the relationship with your carpet for years!