Why is Carpet Cusion So Important?

Carpet Cushion (Carpet Padding)

You’ve picked out the perfect carpet for your home. The next step is selecting the carpet cushion. And if you’re like many carpet buyers, you may be wondering if the cushion you choose will really make a significant difference in the performance of your new carpet. The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Why Is Carpet Cushion So Important?

The primary function of carpet cushion (also referred to as carpet pad or padding) is to absorb the impact that carpet is subjected to on a daily basis. A quality cushion underneath wall-to-wall carpet protects it from the pounding of foot traffic that can cause undue stress on the face of the carpet fiber. So how exactly does this work? Essentially, when we walk on carpet, the carpet’s nap initially flattens. A quality carpet cushion absorbs this force and bounces back, pushing the carpet’s nap back up. With a low-quality carpet cushion, or no cushion at all, the same force will cause carpet fibers to quickly break down, thus appearing worn and flat. A big misconception about carpet cushion is that if you select a high-quality, dense carpet, you can cut costs by selecting a low-quality pad. It’s quite the opposite. The wrong carpet cushion can actually cut the life of your carpet in half, which will end up costing more money when you consider the price of replacing carpet sooner than expected. In fact, a high-quality carpet cushion can actually add more wear life and a more luxurious feel to a moderately priced carpet. So while a good carpet cushion may cost a little more initially, it can prove to be a very good investment in the long run.

Carpet cushion also helps keep your carpet cleaner by allowing for increased dirt removal and airflow during vacuuming. And it provides an additional layer of insulation between flooring and carpet, helping to better regulate room temperature. And, as its name implies, carpet cushion gives your carpet more softness and bounce underfoot. When laid directly over a hard surface such as concrete, even the most plush, dense carpet will feel hard and flat without the proper carpet cushion.

So Is More Padding Better?

When it comes to carpet cushion, the thicker the cushion the better, right? Not necessarily. Carpet cushion that is too thick can actually cause folds and wrinkles to form both in the carpet and beneath the carpet’s surface. This can ultimately decrease the longevity of your carpet and in many cases will void the carpet manufacturer's warranty.

The Density Difference

Rather than thickness, it is density that determines how well the cushion will perform. For standard residential use, good-quality pad should have a density/weight of at least 6 lbs, and a thickness of ?” to ½”. For high-traffic areas, carpet cushion with a weight of at least 8 lbs is generally recommended, especially for Berber styles. 

For the best fit and wear, it is important to match the carpet to the pad. For example, a thicker carpet such as a Saxony may require a ½” thick pad, while a low-profile carpet typically performs best with no more than a ?” thick pad. Prior to purchasing carpet, it’s important to review the carpet manufacturer's cushion recommendations with your carpet retailer. Many carpet manufacturers require the use of a specific type of pad to uphold the carpet’s warranty.

Types of Cushion

 There are three basic materials used to make carpet cushion:

  • Polyurethane foam
  • Rubber
  • Felted fiber

Each type is available in a variety of weights, densities, and thicknesses.

Polyurethane Foam

There are two main varieties of polyurethane foam used in residential installations:

Bonded polyurethane foam (also called rebond) is the most commonly used carpet cushionBonded polyurethane foam (also called rebond) is the most commonly used carpet cushion, with the Carpet Cushion Council estimating that it accounts for more than 80% of carpet cushion sales in the United States. Rebond is formed by using glue binder and pressure to bond together chopped and shredded pieces of foam into one solid piece. An environmentally friendly cushion option, rebond is made from 100% recycled post-industrial and post-consumer foam scraps – giving it its unique multicolor look. What’s more, bonded foam is itself recyclable. Another big advantage – rebond typically costs less than other cushion types.

One drawback is that air pockets can form between the chunks of foam and glue, resulting in an uneven feel underfoot. A good-quality rebond pad will have fewer hard spots (clumps) and will include a net mesh exterior for easier installation and improved performance.

Prime polyurethane foam is a firmer version of the cushioning used in upholstered furniture and mattressesPrime polyurethane foam is a firmer version of the cushioning used in upholstered furniture and mattresses. Two liquid ingredients are combined to form a large mass of foam, which is then sliced into carpet cushion sheets. Made from one solid piece of foam, prime polyurethane’s structure is less porous than a bonded cushion, making it more moisture resistant and less likely to form hard spots. Prime is therefore more expensive then bonded foam.


Rubber

Rubber cushion, which is heavier and a bit more costly than foam, is commonly available in two varieties:

Waffled rubber cushion is a soft, resilient cushion.Waffled rubber cushion is made by molding and heat curing natural or synthetic rubber into a waffle pattern. This produces a soft, resilient cushion. Waffle rubber is hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and mildew, but it can lose its resilience with age.

Flat sponge rubber is a firmer, dense cushion with a flat surface.Flat sponge rubber is a firmer, dense cushion with a flat surface. Typically used with loop carpet (or Berber), flat rubber cushion creates a solid base and can withstand significant wear. One of the most expensive padding types, flat rubber offers good support for the carpet and does not need to be as thick as foam to be effective.


Felt Fiber

Felt fiber cushion can include both virgin and recycled fibers, which are interlocked into a sheet of felt.Felt fiber cushion can include both virgin and recycled fibers, which are interlocked into a sheet of felt. This cushion may be made from natural sources, such as animal hair and jute, or from synthetic fibers, including nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and acrylics. The fibers are needle-punched into relatively dense cushions that have a firm feel. Felt cushion, which is generally used in commercial installations or for installations over radiant heat, is typically mold and mildew resistant, hypoallergenic, and odorless.


New Carpet and New Carpet Cushion Go Hand in Hand

Every carpet installation should begin with the best-quality carpet cushion that matches the carpet type and its use. When replacing worn or stained carpet, you may be tempted to “reuse” the old carpet cushion. This is never a good idea. Replacing existing padding with new cushion may cost a little more initially, but it will be an investment that ensures added years of comfort and wear from your new carpet purchase.

Find Out More

Want to find out more about carpet cushion options from a local carpet expert? Find your local, carpet stores.


Download a Printable PDF of this article →
Please Tell Us What You Think Of Our Article
We are sorry we cannot reply to questions here.
Page: Why is Carpet Cusion So Important?
Name:
Page Rating:
Comments:
(Max. 400 characters)
Please do the addition below. This is used to make sure a real human is filling in the review.
+ =  
 

Reviews

Web Page: Why is Carpet Cusion So Important?
by
Overall Rating: 4.2 stars - 13 reviews

By:
Date: August 28, 2016
Page Rating: (3.5/5)
Comments:
need to replace the ? with numeric values...
By:
Date: February 13, 2016
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Comments:
very good clear info
By:
Date: May 28, 2015
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
Correction. Carpet Cushion Council only states for Berber, not for rugs generally. Carpet and Rug Insititute/CRI states that manufacturer should advise on cushion. Which is it: retailer or manufacturer?
By:
Date: May 28, 2015
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
Correction. Carpet Cushion Council only states for Berber, not for rugs generally. Carpet and Rug Insititute/CRI states that manufacturer should advise on cushion. Which is it: retailer or manufacturer?
By:
Date: May 28, 2015
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
Correction. Carpet Cushion Council only states for Berber, not for rugs generally. Carpet and Rug Insititute/CRI states that manufacturer should advise on cushion. Which is it: retailer or manufacturer?
By:
Date: May 28, 2015
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
You state that retailer can advise about carpet cushion for particular rug. But Carpet Cushion Council states manufacturer can be the guide for cushion, which makes sense since they make rugs. Which is it?
By:
Date: May 28, 2015
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
You state that retailer can advise about carpet cushion for particular rug. But Carpet Cushion Council states manufacturer can be the guide for cushion, which makes sense since they make rugs. Which is it?
By:
Date: May 28, 2015
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
The thickness is denoted by a question mark "?". Why? Also, the article needs to expand on what pound densities are available in Fiber padding, maybe a chart of thicknesses and densities and the different manufacturers.
By:
Date: May 28, 2015
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
The thickness is denoted by a question mark "?". Why? Also, the article needs to expand on what pound densities are available in Fiber padding, maybe a chart of thicknesses and densities and the different manufacturers.
By:
Date: May 28, 2015
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
The thickness is denoted by a question mark "?". Why? Also, the article needs to expand on what pound densities are available in Fiber padding, maybe a chart of thicknesses and densities and the different manufacturers.

To Find A Floor Covering Professional

The WFCA is the floor covering industry’s largest advocacy organization representing specialty floor covering retailers, cleaners, installers, manufacturers and distributors around the globe. To find a WFCA member by specialty.

Find a WFCA flooring professional

Flooring & Carpet Stores

WFCA helps train retail store salepeople and their installers through educational programs supported by the flooring industry manufacturers. Click here to find your local carpet & flooring store.