Carpet 101: Welcome to my pad

Carpet 101: Welcome to My PadSo I’ve learned a lot about flooring in the last few months. You would think, since I have researched and DIY-installed inexpensive laminate flooring, that I would know pretty much all there is to know about flooring, right? But alas, flooring knowledge is vast, and even with workplace immersion, there is still much I have yet to learn.

Let’s focus on carpet for a few blog posts. Carpet is incredibly popular: it’s an easy-upkeep option that is both warm and insulating. But probably more important that the carpet itself is the pad you choose to support it.

First of all, why do I need carpet padding?

Well, technically you don’t. A non-padded carpet that doesn’t glue down is essentially an area rug. Glue it down and you have an industrial installation. But for most homes in Texas with concrete sub-floors, padding is the norm.

Carpet padding, also called carpet cushion or carpet underlayment, comes in all kinds of weird-looking recycled blends and helps support your carpet, provides some cushioning for your feet, and prolongs the life of the fibers of the carpet.

Say what?! Padding prolongs the life of my carpet?

I know, right? I was surprised to learn that, too. Turns out you can buy the most expensive carpet you can find, put it on cheap padding, and have worn-out carpet in a very short amount of time. However, if you put a little bit more money into the padding, you can buy cheaper carpet and have good-looking, durable carpets for years to come!

No way! How do I choose a carpet pad?

Two words: Density. Matters. Density is measured in weight. A cubic foot of 6-pound cushion weighs six pounds. A cubic foot of 8-pound cushion weighs eight pounds. They take up the same amount of space, but the the 8-pound cushion is more dense. Regardless of thickness, the higher the density, the more durable the pad, the longer it’s going to last.

So thickness doesn’t matter?

Not really. A thick cushion that is less dense will flex more, and thus cause your carpet to wear more quickly.

Of course there are other features to sort through, like moisture resistance, microbe resistance, and warranty. Fortunately nearly all carpet cushion is 100% recycled material and also 100% recyclable, so you don’t have to worry about its environmental aspect.

Stay tuned for the next installment (installment, ha!) of Carpet 101! (Edit: You can find the next Carpet 101 here!)


Carpet pad