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Carpet Cushion/Pad Basics

Carpet cushion, or pad, brings out the best in your carpet and extends its life.

Adding to carpet’s already many benefits, carpet cushion provides increased wear resistance, longer appearance retention, enhanced thermal insulation and noise reduction.


For residential installation, a cushion of no more than 7/16-inch thick and no less than ¼-inch thick with a 6 pounds per cubic foot of density or equivalent is recommended. (A cushion of 3/8-inch thickness with a 6 pounds per cubic foot of density or equivalent is recommended for berber style carpets.) In most cases, basic grade carpet pad/cushion is sufficient and is generally included in your final price quote.

There are benefits to upgraded pad/cushion. A high quality pad can even make less expensive grades of carpet seem more luxurious and comfortable – but be careful, too much can lead to a “squishy” feeling and can negatively affect carpet performance. Especially in high traffic areas, the additional cost to upgrade the quality of padding is well worth it. Most manufacturers offer recommendations regarding carpet pad and may require its use as part of its warranty coverage. 

The best upgrades are often related to other performance features such as vapor barriers which prevent moisture from either coming up through the backing, or down into the subfloor underneath. As well, there are cushions that provide protection against odors and mildew.

Cushion/Pad comes in several basic forms

Bonded polyurethane foam: 

Also known as rebond, this is the most commonly used carpet padding and is made of scraps of polyurethane that are rebounded into one long sheet. Made up of recycled post-industrial and post-consumer materials (which accounts for its multicolor look), rebond can itself be recycled yet again making it a great environmentally sound product. 

Prime polyurethane foam: 

The same ingredients as rebond, prime typically comes newly made directly from a manufacturer. It’s the same stuff you might find in furniture, only firmer, hence the more expensive price point.


Offered in waffled and flat constructions, rubber pad provides a luxurious feel in lower traffic areas and firm support in high-traffic installations. Rubber padding is generally considered an upgrade not only because it is more expensive, but typically offers better performance as well.


Made from both recycled natural and synthetic fibers, felt cushion is a great choice over radiant heat.

Natural fibers: 

Jute (a kind of grass) and other natural fibers were once the primary carpet padding material and now often find themselves as part of a felt construction.

Remember, carpet cushion is sold separately but is often quoted in the installed price. Some offer antimicrobial treatments as well.

- Sandy




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