Factors To Consider When Buying A Carpet Padding

When buying carpets, there are various factors you need to consider. For example, the material, texture, and color. This is because a carpet or any other top flooring influences the overall look of the house. Since carpet padding is hidden, it may not seem to be such an important buying flooring decision. Mark you, a carpet is visible, and since it is a subject of attention, you are likely to be careful with the texture and color you choose.

It is, therefore, possible to spend much time and effort deliberating on what carpet to choose, yet take any carpet padding you will find at the flooring store. Noteworthy, some flooring stores order only one type of roll. In this case, both the carpet and padding are important.

What is a Carpet Padding?

So, what is carpet padding, and why is it essential to consider it when buying a carpet? It is a carpet underlayment or cushion. It is usually laid under the carpet; therefore, it is not visible. It serves as a layer of cushioning under the carpet. The padding is usually glued or stapled to the sub-floor.

Although carpet padding is hidden, it is an essential part of a floor because it determines how a carpet feels and wears, influencing its performance. A carpet underlayment has many functions, as discussed below.

Functions of a Carpet Padding

1. Protect the Carpet

A carpet padding protects the carpet from wearing out fast by reducing the stress on the carpet. It also prevents your carpet pile from flattening. The underlayment cushions the carpet’s underside from the bare subfloor. According to a study carried out by the Independent Textile Testing Service, carpets without padding wear out faster than carpets with an underlay.

2. Carpet Padding Enhances Comfort

A carpet padding acts as a cushion. That is why some carpets feel fluffy underfoot. A high-quality carpet cushion makes your foot more comfortable.

3. Increases a Carpet’s Thermal Insulation

An underlay gives a carpet flooring two layers, increasing its thermal insulation. Usually, thermal resistance is measured by a material’s R-value.  The value depends on a material’s thickness and material. A carpet padding has a high R-value which helps in insulation. It does this by trapping heat on the floor, which keeps the room warmer. This can help in reducing your energy bills.

4. It Works as a Noise Insulator

Quality carpet padding reduces noise transmission by enhancing the floor acoustics. It absorbs noise, increasing the carpet’s noise insulation capacity. A test conducted by Kodaras Acoustical Laboratories determined that a carpet with padding has a noise reduction coefficient of 0.65 compared to a bare carpet’s coefficient of 0.25. This is especially important if you are in an upstairs room or live in a flat or apartment.

5. Some Have Anti-Microbial Agents

Anti-microbial agents usually control dust mites, mold, and bacteria. Additionally, they can prevent odors, making it easy for allergies patients to cope better with carpets.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Carpet underlay

There are many carpet underlay types differing in density and thickness. If you see a carpet underlay described as being 12mm/130kg, the first number (12mm) describes the thickness of the carpet padding, and the next number (130kg) describes the carpet pad weight or density. High-density carpet underlay should be preferred for high-traffic areas because it has less air and more foam.

1. Warranty

Did you know that you can void your carpet’s warranty by installing the wrong carpet padding? The first thing to consider when buying the underlayment is to read and understand the manufacturer’s carpet warranty terms. In this regard, it is essential that you first buy a carpet before buying a carpet padding because each carpet requires a unique underlay. Therefore, if you are replacing a carpet, you should also replace carpet underlay.

2. Carpet Padding Thickness & Density

An underlay rating depends on the force required to compress it. You need an underlayment with the right density and thickness to match the traffic in a room or space for adequate floor protection. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards, the expected traffic in a room should be the key determinant of the choice of a carpet cushion.

The HUD has recommendations for different types of carpet padding in the market, namely waffle rubber, Urethane Foam, Bonded Urethane, Flat rubber, and Fiber Cushion. For example, a basement underlay should be different from an underlay for a master en-suite. For heavy traffic areas, you need dense carpet cushions, like crumb rubber which contains car tire material. Crumb rubber is ideal for places like the stairs in a home.

Minimum HUD Standards for Carpet Cushions


Light Traffic Spaces or Rooms

Living rooms, bedrooms

Moderate Traffic Spaces or Rooms

Living rooms, bedrooms

Heavy Traffic Spaces or Rooms

Corridors, stairs, commercial lobbies

Waffle Rubber

 0.285 inches and 14 lbs per cubic ft

 0.285 inches and 14 lbs per cubic ft

 0.33 inches and 16 lbs per cubic ft

Urethane Foam

 0.375 inches with 2.2 lbs per cubic ft

 0.375 inches with 2.2 lbs per cubic ft

 Not recommended by HUD for heavy traffic areas

Bonded Urethane

 0.375 inches and 5 lbs per cubic ft


 0.375 inches and 5 lbs per cubic ft


 0.375 inches and 6.5 lbs per cubic ft

Flat Rubber

 0.22 inches and 18 lbs per cubic ft

 0.22 inches and 18 lbs per cubic ft

 0.22 inches and 21 lbs per cubic ft

Fiber Cushion


 Recycled Textile Fiber

 0.25 inches and 7.3 lbs per cubic ft

 0.25 inches and 7.3 lbs per cubic ft

 0.30 inches and 7.3 lbs per cubic ft

 Synthetic Fiber

 0.25 inches and 6.5 lbs per cubic ft

 0.25 inches and 6.5 lbs per cubic ft

0.30 inches and  6.5 lbs per cubic ft

 Rubberized Hair/Jute

 0.27 inches and 12.3 lbs per cubic ft

 0.27 inches and 12.3 lbs per cubic ft

 0.375 inches and 11.1 lbs per cubic ft

3. Underfloor Heating

When selecting a carpet cushion, you should consider whether you have underfloor heating. For such a room, you need carpet padding with a low tog rating.

4. Carpet Padding for Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs don’t roll well on soft padding. As such, when buying a cushion for a person using a wheelchair, you should get one that is compatible with a wheelchair.

5. Heat, Noise & Sound Insulation Properties

If you need carpet padding for a noisy or cold room, then you can go for padding with a combination of crumb and rubber materials. They have good noise and thermal insulation properties.


A carpet without a cushion is not as sturdy as a carpet with one. When buying an underlayment, get as much information as possible about its binding and durability. And as with all your flooring purchases, buy from a reputable manufacturer. Be sure to follow the carpet manufacturer’s recommendations on carpet padding compatible with the flooring.