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Why the Right Carpet Padding Matters

When you buy carpet, you’re probably mostly focused on the carpet itself. Colors, materials, patterns, and textures are much more glamorous and exciting than whatever lies underneath them.

But the carpet padding is important, too. It insulates your home, protects your subfloor, and extends the life of your carpet. Picking the right carpet pad is just as important as picking the right carpet — and here’s why!

Protecting Your Carpet

As you walk on your carpet, you bend and crush the carpet fibers. If your carpet is laid directly on the hard plywood subfloor, you’ll be sandwiching the fibers between your feet and the floor over and over. Over time, you’ll bend them out of shape and they’ll begin to wear out.

A pad underneath the carpet will absorb some of that shock and pressure, extending the life of your carpet by up to 50 percent — but don’t make the mistake of buying the softest pad you can find. A soft pad will allow the carpet to travel up and down too much when it’s compressed, bending it back and forth and wearing out the fibers faster. A super-soft pad is also a sign of cheaper foam materials, which will compress and leave divots under your floor.

Sound insulation

If your bedroom is on a different floor from your living areas and kitchen, you don’t necessarily want sound traveling between them. The sound of your partner making breakfast in the morning or staying up late to finish that last episode on Netflix can carry through the floors, affecting your ability to get a good night’s sleep and leaving you groggy the next day.

Carpet padding not only helps the carpet to absorb sound, lowering sound levels by anywhere from 25 to 35 decibels, but it keeps sound from echoing as well. Harsh noises won’t travel as much, and you’ll have a more peaceful household.

Heat insulation

In the winter, your heating bill will go up — and it’s only made worse if your home is poorly insulated. An uninsulated attic, cracks between doors and their frames, and single-pane windows are major culprits when it comes to leaking heat out of the house.

One of the best things you can do to keep your heating more consistent and manageable is to keep heat from moving between floors, and that’s where carpet and its padding comes in. When heat rises from the bottom floor to the top floor, it means that you have to turn it up even higher to keep the downstairs warm.

Carpet padding offers an R-value (a unit of measurement for heat insulation) of between 1 and 2 — for perspective, that’s the equivalent of upgrading your double-glazed windows to triple-glazed, which would be a far more expensive purchase.

Material

The material of the carpet padding you choose will depend on a few things. First, where do you want to put this carpet? If you’re laying carpet in the master bedroom, you don’t need to worry about standing up to high traffic, since you probably don’t spend much time walking around in your bedroom. You can also go for a thicker, softer pad in the bedroom — it’ll insulate better and be more comfortable underfoot.

For stairways, hallways, living rooms, playrooms, or anywhere else that might need to stand up to more substantial traffic, you’ll want a heavier, thinner, denser pad. It won’t compress as much, so it won’t feel as soft underfoot, which means it will be more durable and help extend the life of your carpet.

Of course, budget is a consideration as well. If you’re installing carpet in an apartment building or a large area like a finished basement, we offer several economy padding options that will help shave down your budget. For the areas of your home where you spend the most time, a premium pad is probably a better option.

Finally, you’ll want to get a pad that’s compatible with your carpet. Some carpets are designed to work with specific padding — for example, wool carpets shouldn’t be used with furn carpet pads — so make sure your carpet and padding are compatible.

If you don’t know which pad to buy, just ask us! We carry four premium pads and two budget pads, and we know their features inside and out. When you buy carpet from Sloane’s, we can make sure you go home with the pad that’s perfect for your new floor.

Moisture Protection

Finally, consider whether you want a waterproof barrier under your carpet and padding. A moisture barrier pad goes between the carpet pad and the subfloor, designed to keep liquid from soaking through to the subfloor. While some homes have cement board subfloor that’s waterproof, most use plywood. After sustained exposure to moisture, plywood can rot, leak, and even compromise the structural integrity of your home.

A moisture barrier is an extra expense and an extra step in the installation process, so some homeowners skip it entirely. We think that’s a big mistake. Eventually, you’ll spill something on your carpet, and liquid damage is much easier to avoid than it is to fix.

The Unsung Hero of the Floor

You want the best carpet for your home, and we can help you find it! But putting nice carpet on low-quality padding is just as bad as buying low-quality carpet in the first place. The right carpet padding will make your floor more comfortable, keep your home warm and quiet, and extend the life of your carpet.