How to Pick the Best Carpet Padding

Carpet padding acts as a cushion between the carpet and subfloor. The best carpet pads vary in price, thickness, and weight, but most are inexpensive.

What Is Carpet Padding?

Carpet padding is often made from a type of polyurethane foam. The material is common in mattresses and furniture. Besides insulation and noise reduction, padding helps increase a carpet’s longevity.

Carpet Padding vs. Rug Pads

Rug pads provide cushion to area rugs and are non-slip, helping rugs stay in place. They improve the airflow between the area rug and the floor, making vacuuming more efficient. Rug pads also protect the floor underneath from being scuffed up by the rug.

Unlike area rugs, carpet padding goes under the carpet wall-to-wall. Installers glue, staple, or use tack strips to adhere the carpet pad to the floor. The carpet then goes on top.

Rug pads are removable and aren’t compatible with carpets. We don’t recommend using carpet padding to cushion area rugs.

Types of Carpet Padding

There are different carpet padding types available, each with benefits and downsides.

1. Frothed Foam

Frothed foam is one of the most durable options on the market. It resembles foam padding and features a non-woven material attached using a carpet-backing machine.

The foam weighs at least 12 lbs per cubic foot. Frothed foam is comfortable but expensive.

2. Rebonded Foam

Rebonded carpeting pads are eco-friendly and made from recycled foam. They’re the most common carpet padding due to affordability.  They weigh between 5 and 10 lbs per square foot.

Rebonded foam has medium density and thickness and isn’t ideal for high-traffic areas.

3. Prime Foam

Prime foam is affordable and offers midrange performance. It comes with high density, thickness, and insulation. Prime foam is also common in upholstery and couch cushions.

Since it’s not the most durable option, the padding isn’t suitable for heavy traffic areas. It weighs between 2 and 5 lbs per cubic foot. Prime foam is mostly pre-attached to midrange carpets.

4. Waffle Pad

While Waffle padding has the same durability as the Rebond foam, it’s more expensive. Waffle rug pads are made from spongy rubber, which gives them a soft underfoot. Its waffle-like design allows airflow but wears down faster than other padding materials.

Waffle padding is ideal for homes with radiant heating systems. A waffle pad’s air pockets heat the carpet, warming the entire space.

5. Memory Foam

Like a memory foam mattress, memory foam padding is comfortable and soft. Since memory foam is thick, it insulates and soundproofs. Memory foam cushions your feet and bounces back to shape after impact.

You can place it under your living room carpet, dining, or humid areas.

6. Rubber Pad

Rubber is the best quality carpet padding. It’s more durable than other padding options and offers a soft underfoot. It weighs 22 lbs per cubic foot and provides excellent heat and sound insulation. Even though rubber pads are the most expensive option, their quality is unmatched.

Consider getting a rubber pad if you want to pad your corridor carpet. It’s also the best padding for a moist basement. Rubber is waterproof, which prevents moisture from reaching your subfloors.

7. Fiber

Fiber carpet padding can either be synthetic or natural. It comprises small nylon, polyester, and olefin fibers pressed into a thin roll. Fiber padding is suitable for high, medium, and low-traffic areas. While not soft like rubber and foam, fiber pads are durable.

Natural fiber padding is more eco-friendly than synthetic types. But, they’re prone to mold and may not be ideal for moist places. Fiber padding is available in varying thicknesses for all carpet types and uses.

The Perks of Carpet Padding

  • Enhances Your Carpet’s Appearance: Carpet padding minimizes stress on the backing. It provides a barrier from the hard floor, which makes the carpet keep its texture and appearance.
  • Keeps Your Carpet Clean: Padding elevates your carpet, making it easier to clean. With more airflow underneath the carpet, vacuuming releases all dirt and allergens. 
  • Increases Comfort: Foam carpet padding is soft and cushions your feet from hard flooring. The extra layer makes the carpet more comfortable to step, sit or lie on.
  • Extends Your Carpet’s Durability: Carpet padding protects your carpet from wear and wrinkling. By minimizing your body weight on the carpet, padding prevents matting. It also prevents bending and crushing the pile.
  • Offers Extra Insulation: Carpet padding retains the temperature in a room. During winter, carpet padding prevents warm air from escaping. 
  • Noise Reduction: Padding your carpet reduces the noise produced when walking in a room. It also eliminates noise from other rooms. It’s an inexpensive way to soundproof an apartment floor or upstairs room.

Top Considerations When Choosing a Carpet Pad

Carpet Pad Thickness

Pick a carpet pad thickness that matches your carpet manufacturer’s specifications. Thicker padding doesn’t always guarantee better cushioning. In some cases, a thick pad will damage a thin carpet. For example, Berber carpet isn’t compatible with thick padding. You’ll need padding less than ⅜’’ for low-pile carpeting.

Pick a thinner high-density carpet pad for commercial areas with heavy foot traffic. A thicker carpet padding is ideal for bedrooms and living rooms. 


R-value describes the thermal resistance rating of a carpet pad. In other words, it’s the insulating value. The higher the R-value, the more the insulating capacity. R-value rating ranges from 1.05 to 2.15, depending on the thickness of the pad.

Padding Weight/ Density

Manufacturers measure the weight in pounds per cubic foot. Most carpets have a weight ranging from 4-10 lbs. For residential carpets, a 6- to 8-pound density rating should suffice. A 6-pound carpet pad is suitable for a residential carpet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What’s the difference between 6-pound and 8-pound carpet padding?

A 6-pound carpet pound carpet pad tends to feel softer underfoot. An 8-pound carpet pad is more durable and extends your carpet’s lifespan. Pick an 8-pound carpet padding for higher foot traffic areas.

What padding type is best for Berber carpets?

Fiber padding is the most suitable type for Berber carpets. Some manufacturers need buyers to buy fiber pads to keep the carpet warranty valid. While they’re not the softest option, fiber pads are dense and flat. Their characteristics make them ideal for Berber carpets.

Is carpet padding recyclable?

Carpet padding is recyclable. But, a carpet underlay that’s moldy or soiled may not be recycled. Instead, you’ll need to take it to a landfill.