Things to Consider When Selecting Your Carpet Pad
An important part of buying new carpet is selecting the right carpet pad (cushion). Not only is it a matter of comfort but padding will also extend the life of the carpet. Carpet padding also acts as a shock absorber, sound buffer and provides insulation to make rooms warmer and quieter.
The wrong type of padding may affect the appearance of the carpet, causing wrinkling or separation of the carpet seams. Incorrect padding may also void the manufacturer’s warranty.
Most carpet manufacturers have requirements for thickness and density based on the carpet you have selected. Typically, the padding should be no more than 7/16 inch and no less than 1/4 inch thick with 6 lbs. per cubic feet density. Low profile and berber carpets require a pad no more than 3/8 inch thick with 8 lbs. density.
Something else to consider when selecting a carpet pad is your lifestyle. What rooms will you be covering, how much foot traffic is expected, do any members of the household have allergies? Thinner, firmer padding is best for areas like living rooms, family rooms, hallways and stairs. Rooms that have lighter traffic, such as bedrooms and dens can use thicker softer padding.
What’s in The Padding?
About those allergies: There have been cases where materials used in carpet pads have caused respiratory problems, especially for babies and young children. Over time, recycled foam products can break down and blend into the carpet and bind with dust, which can be released into the air. These foam products may contain PBDEs that are flame retardants. These have been banned since 2005, however homes with older carpets may still contain this type of product. There is no way to determine if your carpet pad contains PBDEs unless you’re the one who purchased it. If in doubt, you may want to consider new carpet or having the padding replaced. Make sure it is certified as low-VOC.
Non-toxic Carpet Pads
- Frothed Polyurethane (comparable to memory foam) – composed of very dense 7/16 inch thick; reduces furniture indentations.
- slab rubber (avoid waffle weaves which break down over time) – recommended for high traffic areas, such as stairs; long-lasting and dense; consider if you’re planning on keeping the same carpet for 20 years.
- 100% sheep wool, and natural fibers such as felt, horsehair, and jute – odor absorbing, low VOCs, and formaldehyde for better air quality; have less “give” underfoot.
Consider this information when purchasing your carpet and rugs. Choosing the right carpet pad will provide years of comfort and keep your rugs and carpets looking great.
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