Carpet padding is one of the most important but overlooked aspects of your wall-to-wall carpeting. While taken into consideration far less than the carpet itself, choosing the right carpet padding will drastically affect the lifespan of your carpet. Carpet padding absorbs the damage of heavy foot traffic, protects the underside of your carpet from abrasion against the subfloor, helps to insulate your home against cold and noise, and makes your carpet feel softer and richer. But there are quite a few different types of carpet padding, and it is important that you choose the right padding for your carpet. Common materials used for carpet padding include rubber, urethane, felt, and memory foam, as well as various combinations of these materials. With that in mind, here are the various types of carpet padding available from Floor Coverings International of Hillsborough, Princeton, and Flemington, NJ!
Rating Carpet Cushions
Before we delve down into the types of padding available, we have to know how to determine the quality of the carpet padding. There are a number of ways in which carpet padding is measured and rated, and they will be important to consider when you are picking the correct carpet padding for your floors. The primary way that carpet padding is measured is based on density. Terms like Indentation Load Deflection (ILD), Indentation Force Deflection (IFD), Compression Load Deflection (CLD), and Compression Force Deflection (CFD) are all used to refer to measurements of carpet padding density. Primarily, carpet padding density ranges from 6 to 8 pounds per cubic foot, but some can get much denser. Something to keep in mind is that the area of evaluation might change based on the test done. Sometimes carpet padding is measured in thickness as well, but density is a better way of predicting carpet pad performance.
Waffle rubber carpet padding saw it’s height of popularity in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This style of carpet pad consists of spongy material shaped like a waffle on its surface. The main selling point for waffle rubber is its softness underfoot. This comes from the high proportion of air within the material. The other upside is that this is a fairly inexpensive carpet pad. Unfortunately though, this high proportion of air in the material, which makes it so comfortable underfoot, also means it is somewhat less durable than other carpet padding types. Without the sturdiness of more modern carpet styles, the backing of a carpet can wear and crack over time. Still, there are higher quality, denser waffle rubber carpet pads that will hold up well all the same. The quality of a carpet pad will always be affected by its density. One other thing to keep in mind, is that when waffle rubber carpet pads were used prominently in the past, they were constructed with clay binders, which tended to disintegrate under normal wear and traffic, so if you do invest in waffle rubber carpet pad, make sure to avoid any that have clay binders.
Foam urethane, or polyurethane is another cost-effective carpet pad. There are two main types of urethane foam carpet pad: Prime and Frothed. Prime foam urethane is made from pieces of foam that are cut into sheets, while frothed foam urethane is made with liquid foam ingredients that are frothed together. Prime urethane foam can feature quantities of air that make it soft underfoot, like waffle rubber, with denser pads having less air, which increases its durability. Frothed foam urethane is typically quite dense, and memory foam, for instance, is a type of urethane foam. This type of carpet pad tends to be more expensive than prime urethane foam.
Bonded Urethane, also known as Rebond, is the most popular type of carpet padding in use today. Bonded urethane carpet pad is a recycled material, which makes it particularly desirable, as it is more environmentally responsible than other carpet pad options. Rebond is made from reclaimed scrap urethane foam, which is then fused through heat and adhesive to create carpet pad out of what would otherwise be post- consumer waste. Bonded urethane is quite durable, but it isn’t quite as durable as more high-end carpet pads such as frothed urethane foam or rubber. One concern that it is important to note is that some bonded urethane contains butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), which is a chemical that was once added to rebond in order to make it more flame resistant. This chemical can cause carpets to yellow and stain slightly. BHT is less common in today’s rebond, but it is still something to keep in mind.
Flat rubber is the premium carpet padding option. While made from the same material as waffle rubber, it doesn’t contain the air contents of that type of pad. Flat rubber is very dense and heavy, and can stand up to lots of wear and tear. While it is generally recommended that you replace your carpet pad every time you replace your carpets, flat rubber is the one, long-lasting exception. While flat rubber pad may be more expensive, it’s longer lifespan makes up for it. Other upsides include the fact that flat rubber doesn’t off-gas VOCs, and that rubber tends to be antimicrobial, so it’s an excellent option for people with allergies or other sensitivities.
For those who are especially concerned with environmental stewardship, using carpet pad that is made with natural fibers such as jute is a good option. Fiber carpet cushion is the oldest type of carpet padding, traditionally made from animal hair that was pressed into a felt mat, which was then impregnated with rubber. These days, synthetic materials are occasionally included as well, such as nylon. Fiber cushion is more suited as padding under area rugs, rather than as the underlay for wall-to-wall carpeting. Be careful to avoid using natural fibers in below grade rooms such as basements though, since they are more prone to rot and mildew than synthetic fibers.
For more information on carpet padding, or to start your journey towards new wall-to-wall carpeting, call Floor Coverings international of Hillsborough, NJ today!