How Thick Should Carpet Padding Be?

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Is it time for new carpeting in your home? Maybe you’re adding carpet for the first time. Before doing so, it’s important to note that choosing carpet padding is not a decision to be taken lightly. You don’t want to be stuck with an uncomfortable floor. To help you decide how thick your carpet padding should be, we’ve done some research. See our findings below. 

Carpet padding is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Needs will vary depending on the amount of foot traffic, the type of carpet, and the location where the carpet is being installed. In most cases, you won’t need a carpet pad that is more than half an inch thick. However, thinner carpets, such as Berber, do not need a pad that is more than 3/8-inch thick. 

Now that you have a general idea of how thick your carpet pad should be, keep reading to get more specific details, including what weight is best for carpet pads, if you really need a carpet pad, and much more. 

A thick carpet padding rolled and stored, How Thick Should Carpet Padding Be?

How Thick Should Carpet Padding Be?

While it may seem like an easy choice, carpet padding plays a major role in the comfort of your floor. Don’t get too caught up on thick pads. They are not always the best option.

However, you also don’t want too little cushion or padding that is low quality. Most carpets do not need a pad that is more than half an inch thick. Thin carpets, on the other hand, are better suited for pads that are no more than 3/8-inch thick. 

Unrolled carpet padding inside a storage room

Weight

Before we go any further, let’s discuss the weight of carpet pads. While you don’t hear it mentioned as often as thickness, it is just as important. Carpet pad weight is measured by pounds per cubic foot. For the purpose of this article, we will just use the term pounds.

Most carpets, especially those for your home, need a minimum of a 6-pound pad. However, for the best durability, opt for an 8-pound pad. While 6-pound padding is softer, it will not last as long as 8-pound padding. 

Location

A luxurious interior of a hotel concierge with carpet padding and rustic designs

The room in which you are installing carpet has a big impact on the proper thickness of your carpet padding. If you are choosing carpet for a business instead of your home, it likely sees more foot traffic than a residential floor. In this case, you’ll need a thinner pad with a heavier weight. For instance, a 3/8-inch pad with an 8 to 10-pound weight would be ideal for your commercial flooring needs. 

A cozy and bleu themed living room with carpet flooring, pot lights, and a fireplace on the side

If the carpet and padding are for your home’s living room or bedroom, a thicker pad will likely be the best option. If you are installing a soft, cushy carpet, go with a 1/2-inch thick pad. However, if you are opting for a thin carpet, this pad will have too much give. Therefore, you should choose a thinner pad of approximately 3/8-inch thickness. 

Does Carpet Padding Really Matter?

We get it; carpet padding is a headache. However, it is necessary. Looking at a roll of carpet, it’s easy to think that it could stand on its own. In the end, you’ll be happy you took the time to add the padding.

Carpet padding plays several roles:

  • Comfort
  • Longevity
  • Sound Absorption
  • Insulation

Comfort

A baby walking on the carpet

No matter how thick and comfy that carpet looks, it will not be comfortable without padding. Even if it is fluffy, there is nothing to absorb the shock from your footsteps without foam padding underneath. Think about this – the floor you are covering with carpet is likely hard.

If you run across it with your bare feet, you will feel the impact. Now, think about how it would feel if you were running across carpet that was just placed on top of that hard floor with no padding in between. You will still be getting the effects of the floor on your feet. 

Longevity

For the longest lasting carpet, choose the best padding. The stress of everyday use can really get to your carpet. This effect is multiplied if you do not place padding between it and the floor. Without a cushion to absorb some of the impact, your carpet takes all the weight and stress, shortening its life significantly. 

According to a test performed by Independent Textile Testing Service, carpet with padding only lost between 5 to 10 percent of thickness over time, while carpet without padding lost an average of 19 percent in thickness. 

Additionally, some padding helps protect the underlying floor from spills, helping prevent moisture retention and mold. 

A spilled wine on the carpet floor penetrating to the carpet padding

Sound Absorption

Think about how it sounds walking into an empty warehouse or a home that has no furniture. It seems much louder than rooms that contain furniture and other belongings. Carpet padding has this same effect. It absorbs sound waves, lowering the volume and echo in the room. 

Insulation

Do you constantly worry about your electric bill? Are you always cold in the winter and hot during the summer, no matter how many times you adjust the thermostat? Choosing a carpet pad of the proper thickness can help with all these things. It works as an insulator, trapping warm and cold air inside. 

Alternative Options

Carpet Tiles

If you are completely against the idea of installing a carpet pad, there are less stressful options. The first option is to use carpet tiles instead of carpet rolls. There is no need to add padding, and many come with adhesive already on the back. Best of all, you can mix and match colors. 

You can find self-sticking carpet tiles on Amazon.

Pre-Attached Padding 

The next option is purchasing carpet that already has the padding attached. This method is one of the quickest and simplest when it comes to carpet installation. However, you won’t have as many options as you will when purchasing the carpet and pad separately. 

Hiring a Contractor

If you simply do not have the time or ability to install your own carpet, it may be time to consider hiring a contractor. This will be the more expensive method, but it will save you both time and effort. 

What are the Grades of Carpet Padding?

There are four main types/grades of carpet padding. Some are better quality than others, so choose the best one for your needs. 

Rebonded Foam Carpet Pad

This is the most environmentally friendly carpet pad available. It is made up of recycled foam pieces. Have you ever noticed that some carpet padding is multicolored? That is because the pieces have been recycled from a variety of different foams. Rebonded foam is durable and comes in a wide range of options, including price, weight, and thickness. 

Prime Foam Carpet Pad

Prime foam pads are made from brand new, not recycled, material. While it is initially very firm, it will wear down over time. Once it wears down, it will become softer. However, as it continues to degrade, it will lose the softness as well, making it less durable than other grades of padding. 

Memory Foam Carpet Pad

Have you ever slept on a memory foam mattress or worn shoes with memory foam insoles? If so, you know just how soft and luxurious it feels. If you want that same effect on your carpet, a memory foam pad is the way to go. While it isn’t made of memory foam material, it is made using frothed foam, which provides the same sensation. 

Before installing this type of pad, consider what happens to those memory foam shoes after you have used them excessively. Just as your shoes get less and less cushy, so will this carpet padding. This is also the most expensive option on the market. 

Fiber Carpet Pad

This type of carpet padding is the least expensive on the market. Instead of being manufactured of foam, it is made up of a variety of fibers such as polyester, felt, and nylon. Unlike other padding, fiber grade carpet pads are not comfortable.

If at all possible, avoid installing it in your living room and bedrooms. It would be better suited for areas such as utility rooms and sunrooms. Thin carpets, such as those used in commercial buildings, are ideal for fiber carpet pads. 

Is a Thicker Carpet Padding Better? 

Choosing the wrong carpet pad can do more harm to your carpet than good. Thicker carpet padding is not always better. With thinner carpets, thick carpet pads are not ideal. In most situations regarding high-pile carpets, experts typically suggested that you not use padding that is more than half an inch thick. 

Is it Worth Upgrading Carpet Padding?

If your carpet is no longer comfortable, you may not need new carpet. It’s possible that upgrading the pad will increase the comfort level of the carpet. If your carpet is not worn out and overly stained, speak with a professional about upgrading to a better quality pad. However, if your carpet is in bad shape, it’s probably time to upgrade both the carpet and the pad.

A textured carpet padding beige installed

Summary

Choosing the wrong pad can be detrimental to your carpet. By following the above guidelines, you’ll be able to choose the correct thickness and weight for your carpeting needs. Before installing your new carpet, check out these other posts on our blog to help you prepare:

How to Prepare Carpet for Installation

How Much Does Carpet Cost?

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