Carpet Cushion

Is carpet pad/underlayment really that important?

by Chris Moline

Pad, padding, carpet underlayment, cushion… whatever you may choose to call it, it’s the unseen and often unsung hero of an excellent carpet installation.
If you’ve never bought carpet for a home, I’m glad you’re here.
If you have, and feel you were well-educated by your sales person, you are one of the fortunate few, my friend.

On my desk is a piece of yellow foam, 3/8 of an inch thick, masquerading as pad… and it’s bothering me. Of course, it is FHA base-grade pad and weighs in at a paltry 3-pound density… but that’s not the real story.
The real story is – tada! – that “pad” will void your warranty, no matter how excellent and well-thought-out your carpet choice. In fact, few sales people take the time to educate their customers in the area of the importance of pad.

Let’s go to the go-to resource (makes sense, huh?), the Carpet & Rug Institute. They mandate that carpet cushion should be “no more than 7/16 inch thick and no less than 1/4 inch with 6 pounds per cubic feet density. If the carpet is a Berber or a low profile carpet, choose a cushion no more than 3/8 inch thick with 8 pounds density.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself, and I have, thousands of times over the years because it is so vital.
Check out this picture of what junk pad can do to good carpet:



And here is a close-up of the culprit:

Base grade, foam pad ruined this carpet.

Base grade, foam pad ruined this carpet.

Base grade, foam pad ruined this carpet.

We do not sample that type of pad, but it is available, begrudgingly. Our standards start at 6 pound and range through the most beautiful 22 pound slab rubber pad you’ve ever set your feet on. We even have ViscoBond, a delightful pad made from Tempur-Pedic memory foam that feels better than more-dense options.  We take it very seriously and think you should, too. That’s why our professional sales staff will take the time to work with you to ensure you’ll be pleased with your choice years from now. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by our newly-redesigned “Green Area” and take a walk on 40 yards of Sorona SmartStrand frisse carpet with five different pad types underneath. Come to think of it, by next week there will be six because I am going to put a small section of this… lovely… yellow… FHA base-grade foam down, just to make a point.

Feel free to email with any of your “pad” related questions and I’ll do my best to get you the best answer in a timely manner. I will be updating this post with much more in the coming weeks.

All the best!


Christopher Moline, LEED AP
Pad Council Certified Expert &
Residential Group Manager
Commercial Carpet of America &
Alexandria Carpet One Floor & Home

One response to “Carpet Cushion

  1. I completely agree. My mother in law’s carpet was ruined after about 4 years on her steps and in her hall. It was a very expensive Karastan piece, but the pad was that foam crap you’d mentioned.

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