When purchasing a new carpet it is, of course, important to choose the best quality that is within your budget. It is equally important to choose a good quality padding to go beneath. Many people think that the padding is simply to add soft feel to your step but that is not even a consideration. It is to preserve the life of your investment.
Any of you that cook, know that if your take a cutlet and place it on a wood board and pound it with a mallet, the fibers will break down and the meat will be tender. If you pound it too long you will go right through to the board. It is the same for your carpet. If you walk on it and there is no padding, or the padding is bottoming out, the synthetic latex breaks down or the two layers separate causing delaminating. This bottoming out can also cause undue stress to the face fibers as well. Many retailers only offer one type of padding for all the carpeting they sell due to the fact that they get a deal for buying in bulk. Ask them if they can special order the padding that you want. If they refuse do not compromise and shop elsewhere.
Keep in mind that a carpet pad should never exceed ½ inch of thickness. Any thicker and the installation will not hold to the perimeter tack strips.
There are several methods for measuring carpet pad performance which are the measure force deflection or load deflection which can make things a little confusing so I will not go into detail about them. One good test is to simply place a section of the padding on the ground. Place the heel of your hand on it and press with all your weight. If you feel the floor below it is bottoming out and is not a good choice. Another way padding is rated is by weight per cubic foot. This is not accurate from one type to another as hard rubber is denser than foam and of course will weigh more. It is, however, good to refer to within its own category.
There are several different carpet pads, used today, listed below:
– Waffle Rubber. Looks like it sounds. We have all seen pieces of it laying outside an installation in progress and many of us have used the scraps as packing material. This is a good padding that falls within the ½ inch thickness range. It is much better today than in the past when it would break down with time and crumble like day old bread.
– Urethane Foam. Available in varying thicknesses and density. It is a good performer, in many cases, but you need to do your homework and purchase the proper density.
– Bonded Urethane. (Rebond) This product is made from scraps of urethane from the furniture and automotive industries and is the most widely used padding today. It also comes in an assortment of densities and thicknesses so once again be prepared and learn what you need before you decide. Also make sure that the product does not contain BHT, a non toxic fire retardant, that has been known to create yellow staining of carpets.
– Flat Rubber. Several carpet experts that I have read regard this as the best carpet padding especially in the 19-22 density range. It is costly and difficult to find but worth the time and expense. To take a quote from the Carpet Buyers Handbook, the author of which is unknown, “While it is recommended that you replace carpet cushion with each carpet installation, flat rubber may be the only carpet padding that could outlast the carpet and survive a second carpet installation.”
– Fiber Cushion. An environmentally friendly product made of natural fibers, hair, jute or a combination but not a good performer. Also allows spills to get right through to the floor.
Choosing the right padding to ensure a long life for your carpet should be done carefully with a great amount of research. A great place to start is the website of the Carpet Cushion Council. They set the criteria for the industry and the site contains a wealth of information. Also feel free to contact your local carpet cleaning service, they are more than carpet cleaners.