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Carpet padding, also referred to as underlayment, is icing on the cake! It may go on the bottom, not the top. But padding is as important to wall to wall carpeting as icing is to a cake. And contrary to what many people think, the best carpet padding isn't always the thickest.
Selecting the best carpet padding density and material type for your carpet can enhance its attributes and take floor comfort up another notch. Whereas cheap carpet padding, or the wrong type or depth in padding, can make an otherwise great carpet all wrong.
Quality types of carpet padding can:
Choosing the right types of carpet padding instead of what is cheapest can save money. For example, using the wrong type padding with Berber carpet can cause it to wear unevenly, come apart at the seams, or stretch. (The best carpet padding for Berber is usually thin and dense; sponge rubber carpet padding 3/8 or less works well.)
The wrong type or density padding can cause the backing on any type carpet to breakdown prematurely. It can also void the carpet warranty — another important consideration.
There are several types of carpet padding:
Conventional prime has uniform cellular structures created by carbon dioxide bubbles that have burst, producing uniform density throughout. Sheets are available in various thicknesses; usually 1/4-inch to 9/16-inch.
Grafted prime can have irregular shaped cells; some which compress under slight foot impact when walked on, while others offer resistance. Or else ultra small cells that offer a high level of resistance throughout
Densified prime has a modified chemical structure. Producing slanted cell structures with unique performance attributes. Limited compression, for a distinctive under foot feel.
Urethane is not a cheap carpet padding option. But it resists moisture and heat, and has a high R-value — providing good insulation. It is a great choice for high traffic areas. Available in a variety of densities and firmnesses; select one with the right balance of comfort and durability.
Flat sponge rubber carpet padding is firmer; normally used for large scale commercial purposes, and residential loop carpet. Many consider it the best carpet padding for Berber.
Rippled sponge rubber carpet padding offers a soft, resilient cushion highly desirable for residential use. However, a rating of less than 90 ounces is generally too soft for today's carpets. Note: some manufacturers add clay binders to rubber carpet padding which can break down with use. Check the composition label before making a purchase.
Fiber padding usually has a firmer feel, making it one of the best carpet padding for Berber options available. Like rubber carpet padding it is graded by weight. Normally found in classifications of light, medium, and heavy traffic.
Natural fiber options can be problematic for persons with allergies. Such fibers are also susceptible to rotting and odor when damp; some are treated with dye that can wick through wet carpet.
Finally, even if the free padding that comes with a new carpet purchase isn't cheap carpet padding. It might not be the best carpet padding for your carpet type. Check to see if, instead of free padding, you could get a discount on the carpet padding of your choice.
For icing-on-the-cake carpet padding for your home, just follow the above guidelines. And reap the rewards - the ultimate in durability and comfort for the life of your carpet!