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Loose rolls of
bonded foam carpet padding

Choosing the right carpet padding is essential to the lifetime of your carpet. From carpet padding class to carpet padding density and thickness, there can be a huge difference from one carpet pad to another. In addition, special consideration must be taken when installing carpet padding over radiant floor heating or with certain types of carpeting, such as Berber or woven carpets. As usual, FindAnyFloor is here to help. Read on to learn about carpet padding criteria so that you can choose the right carpet padding for your carpet.

Carpet Padding Class

Cushion Council Logo

Carpet cushions are classified by the Carpet Cushion Council into two different classes for residential applications and three for commercial applications, depending on their thickness and density. Residential Class I carpet pads should only be used in low traffic areas (bedrooms, dining rooms, etc.) whereas Class II cushions can be used in all residential areas including those with high traffic levels. Likewise, the higher the commercial class, the more traffic it can handle.

Carpet Padding Density

Weight scale representing density, weight or heaviness of carpet

The density of carpet padding is calculated by measuring the total weight of one cubic foot of carpet padding. In general, denser or heavier carpet padding can handle heavier traffic than those that are less dense or heavy. 5–8 pounds per cubic foot is most common for residential applications, though some types of high grade carpet padding can have densities over 30 lb/cu ft.

Note: Some manufacturers instead measure the weight of carpet padding in ounces per square yard, which tends to make comparisons between the two measurements difficult.

Carpet Padding Thickness

Carpet padding comes in many different thicknesses, carefully consider the correct size

Carpet padding can come in thicknesses anywhere from under 1/4" up to 1/2". In higher traffic areas, such as hallways and stairwells, it is usually recommend by the carpet manufacturer that you use thin, dense carpet padding no thicker than 3/8". Using a pad that is too thick or lightweight can cause the carpet backing to over–flex and fall apart. Thick carpet padding can provide a luxurious feel underfoot but should only be used in low traffic areas such as bedrooms.

Note: Because the manufacturer of your carpet generally knows what is best for their products, you should always follow their recommendations. Many carpet manufacturers will void your carpet's warranty if you use carpet padding that does not meet their specifications.

Special Considerations about Carpet Padding

Many carpet padding manufacturers will list their padding's R–value which is a measurement of the resistance to heat flow that the carpet padding provides. Typical carpet cushion R–values range from .2R –2R, with higher R–values meaning higher levels of heat and sound insulation.

Carpet Padding with Radiant Floor Heating

showing the layers of carpet, padding and radiant floor heating

When installing carpet padding with radiant heating, keep in mind that installing denser, thicker padding with a higher R–value will mean the heat has to work harder to reach your room. In this case, it is often recommended that you choose the lowest density and thickness recommended by the carpet manufacturer.

Carpet Padding for Heat or Sound Insulation

showing some heat insulating carpet padding under carpeting

If you simply want to add sound insulation or heat insulation to your room, you should choose the highest thickness and density suitable for your carpet and area of installation. Never choose a padding that is thicker than what your carpet manufacturer recommends. Installing padding that is too thick can not only void your carpet's warranty but can significantly reduce the lifetime of your carpet.

Special Carpet Considerations

Photo of Berber Carpeting

Because Berber carpets need firm pads, they often require a special padding made specifically for Berber carpets. The general rule of thumb is that the larger the loop in the carpet, the firmer the pad should be.

Woven carpets also require special consideration as they need very heavy, dense padding. In some cases, the manufacturer will specify the use of heavy, flat froth foam carpet padding.

For more help on choosing the right carpet padding for your home or business check out FindAnyFloor's section on Types of Carpet Padding, or visit our Flooring Forums where flooring professionals are always happy to help.