Does Carpet Padding Really Matter?

Yes, indeed. Carpet padding matters more than most people realize. It’s not their fault. It’s easier to focus on the many types of carpet available. Whether you’re keen on a thinner style of Berber carpet, or the luxurious feel of a thick pile plush, many of us will make the choice based on what we can see.

However, it’s what you can’t see underneath the carpet, which is to say, the type of carpet padding, that actually determines how soft underfoot your carpeting will feel. It also helps determine how it stands up to heavy foot traffic, and how long it will ultimately last in the long run.


Take Care Of Your Long-Term Investment

A brand new, professionally installed carpet can rejuvenate your entire home. It provides an immediate impression to guests and potential buyers alike. Not many things can provide this kind of beautifying upgrade to a home, but it doesn’t come cheap. Carpeting an entire home can be a significant investment.

Keeping your carpet clean and insisting on a top-quality carpet cushion or underpad is the best way to ensure you’ll get many, many years of enjoyment from a new carpet.




How A Low-Quality Underpad Can Cost You More


It’s a good idea to reserve some of your budget for an underpad. If you don’t, you may treat it as an afterthought and default for something substandard. That’s okay if you’re going to buy the cheapest, thinnest carpet available and you don’t care how it looks or how long it lasts. So please, at the beginning of your search, remember to take some care of the underpad.


Inferior underpads break down quickly. They literally disintegrate and lose their resilience. Without a proper cushion underneath, the brunt of the foot traffic is taken by the carpet fibers. This causes the carpet fibers to wear down more quickly.


Some installers will even use a thicker but inferior carpet cushion to create the illusion of softness underfoot. But when this breaks down over time, you’ll be left with sagging in the areas that have the most foot traffic. Unfortunately, if this happens, you’ll have to have the carpet re-stretched. This is not an easy or inexpensive undertaking.

There are some homeowners that have wonderful solid wood floors and use carpeting in some of the rooms. A quality carpet cushion will protect the floor underneath from being stained with the usual mishaps. This is because the better underlayments include a waterproof barrier.




Spills are easier to clean up because they don’t soak all the way through to the floor underneath. It’s easy to tell if a carpet installation includes a waterproof carpet cushion. If you’ve ever been to a home that is having the carpeting pulled up, the many spills and accidents that happened are easy to see because they have stained the floor underneath.


How Carpet Pad Thickness Can Reduce Noise

If you’ve ever walked into an empty room with a tile floor, the sound of your shoes is almost amplified. Every step echoes. Compare this to a similar room with a professionally installed, high-quality carpet and underpad. The carpet and the underpad work together to reduce noise.

The many types of materials used to make carpet cushions vary in their ability to reduce noise. However, in almost all cases, the thicker the carpet pad, the better the noise reduction. If your home has more than one story or it has a finished basement absorbing sound reduction is even more important.


Polyurethane Foam And Other Carpet Cushion Materials

There are three main types of cushions. They are foam, fiber, and rubber. Each main type also includes two or three varieties. Then you have different densities and different thicknesses. And pretty soon, you’re going to need a spreadsheet to keep track. Let’s keep things as simple as possible:

Prime polyurethane foam – Generally speaking, this is a firmer grade of the same materials you’ll find in furniture and high-quality mattresses. If you could examine a cross-section of this form, you would notice millions of tiny air pockets and a plastic film covering both the top and the bottom of the foam. The air pockets provide spring and resilience as well as a degree of thermal insulation, or R-Value.

Bonded polyurethane foam – Depending on where you live, this type of foam may be called “rebound .”You’ll be able to recognize it immediately from its multicolored pattern. This pattern is a product of the millions of tiny pieces of foam that have been chopped up and then formed into one piece. This foam is recycled from pre-consumer materials.

Polyolefin foam – This is a polymer-based thermoplastic. Polymer is combined with other materials and then extruded into sheets that can be cut to size. This comes in a variety of thicknesses and densities.

         Fiber – A variety of different fibers, both natural and man-made, are used to produce fiber carpet cushions. These fibers are interlocked or felted together in sheets of varying thicknesses. This type of underlayment is often measured in weight by the square yard. Natural fibers used include jute, wool felt, and animal hair. Synthetic fibers include acrylics, polyester, polypropylene, and nylon.




Four Quick Tips On Choosing Carpet Underpad

  1. Local stores are good. Local experts are better. Please remember to shop around for the right carpet expert. There are so many carpets and carpet pads to choose from it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Look for a retailer with good reviews and one that has been in your area for a long time. You’ll want someone who can recommend exactly what works best for you instead of just what they are pushing this week. Contact the experts at Flooring Direct, and they’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you find out more.
  2. Pick the padding that matches your needs. Many people are tempted to save a buck when it comes to underpads. Unfortunately, the wrong kind of underpad will underdeliver when it comes to helping your carpeting last longer and feel better.
  3. Make sure you plan for a professional installation. All too many times, a couple of unskilled installers in a pick-up truck show up with your roll of carpeting strapped to the roof. When it comes right down to it, your carpeting will perform only as well as the installation. Don’t forget to discuss installation with your local expert.
  4. Steps can be complicated. If you’re planning to carpet over any steps, be prepared to spend a little more. Steps are like a torture test for your carpet and especially your underpad. Whatever you settle on for the carpet cushion, you may want to upgrade the carpet cushion for your steps.



Dan Ratcliff

Dan Ratcliff is the CEO and President of Flooring Direct in Dallas / Fort Worth. Over the last two decades, he has grown Flooring Direct into a premier Shop-at-Home traditional & hardwood flooring company. With a true dedication to customer service and integrity, Flooring Direct has become DFW's largest highest-rated Dallas-local flooring dealer. Dan has lived in Dallas all of his life and was raised in Dallas with family roots and love for the community and local sports. It's with that sense of family that Flooring Direct has contributed to and sponsored children's organizations like Jonathan's Place and scholastic athletics like Plano's Girls Soccer.