How To Install Carpet Padding Under An Area Rug

An area rug is the perfect accent piece to tie any room together. It can help create a bridge between colors that would otherwise fail to look balanced right next to each other. But carpet padding is reserved for typical rolls of carpet, which cover the entire floor from wall to wall. Sometimes, rug pads are thought of as “carpet pads,” leading to some confusion. We have carefully researched how to correctly install a rug pad, which will greatly benefit an area rug.

There are a few important steps to follow when you install a rug pad, sometimes called a “carpet pad,” underneath an area rug. You will find many advantages, such as floor and rug protection, so long as you install the rug pad correctly:

  1. Measure the correct size for your rug pad
  2. Select the best material for your floor type
  3. Clear and clean the desired installation area
  4. Install the rug pad

Since area rugs are technically just “floating” carpet, you may be curious about any of the benefits of installing a rug pad underneath your area rug. Keep reading to learn the proper steps for installing a rug pad, including crucial details such as choosing the right material that will ensure the best performance.

Carpet installation with worker bending to chisel at tackless tack strip on carpet pad, How To Install Carpet Padding Under An Area Rug

Should you put padding under area rugs?

Before you begin investing in a rug pad and go about installing one, you should feel certain a rug pad is right for you. There are numerous benefits to adding a rug pad beneath any area rug, regarding both safety and style.

Prevent Slipping

The main reason that rug pads are so popular is that they can prevent an area rug from slipping underneath your feet. This can be very helpful in rooms with a lot of frequent traffic. You can read this post about how to position an area rug in the living room.

But it can also be downright necessary if you want to use an area rug on a hardwood floor. Rug fabrics are even more likely to slide across smooth wooden surfaces than carpet materials. This is especially true if the hardwood floor was treated with wax, and buffed to a shine. Making such a clean top layer can look very nice. But it can also potentially cause a lot of accidents.

Add Protection

Hardwood floors can also be especially sensitive, no matter how great the finish layer is. For example, a wool area rug will be pretty tough on a wooden floor. The fabric is somewhat coarse, so it can potentially cause scrapes all on its own. And area rugs made from any kind of material may have a backing that is rough enough to inflict damage, too.

Foreign objects can also get trapped underneath the rug and continue to cause damage over time. This is a common problem with consistent traffic across the rug. The foot movement will allow the trapped debris to continuously scuff the wood below.

Aside from a physical impact, there may also be effects on the style of the floor. If you place an area rug on a carpet, you can find that the dye from the area rug has stained the carpet. The area rug can actually transfer its own colors down into the carpet, discoloring whole sections of the room.

Lastly, you should consider that adding a rug pad can help insulate a cold floor. If you’re using a large area rug to tie an entire room together, this can be perfect for guests and everyday use. Even the rug can still feel cold in some circumstances, as in a basement or garage.

Add Cushioning

A rug pad will add extra cushioning beneath an area rug. This will feel much more comfortable to walk across, which is terrific for rugs that are used on a daily basis. No matter how cozy your rug already feels, the cushion below will be even better.

In fact, adding more of a cushion will also protect the rug’s fibers from natural wear and tear. The rug pad will help absorb a lot of the stress from traffic that would otherwise damage the fibers and backing. The fibers will lose their height, and the backing can get warped over time.

More Air Flow

One of the less noticeable improvements is the ventilation of the floor. But this is an especially important one. The CDC agrees that mold fungi can grow and thrive anywhere that has lots of moisture.

If your area rug can trap moisture underneath the backing, then you are likely to find mold and mildew over time. Fortunately, a rug pad would let the floor breathe, preventing moisture buildup and any fungus that would love it.

How do you attach an area rug to a pad?

Carpet Installer Stapling Pad to Subfloor

Once you’ve decided that an area rug is right for you, it’s time to begin learning how to install the product. This is a very simple process and mainly involves attaching the rug pad to the desired area rug. However, there is also some preparation to keep in mind beforehand.

How much should a rug overhang the carpet pad?

In order for the rug pad to be attached correctly, your first step is to determine the correct size. In other words, you need to know how much the rug should hang over the actual rug pad, or “carpet pad.”

This will involve some basic measurements, which means you’re going to need a measuring tape. You may also need any reliable brand of scissors. These will be used to cut the rug pad down to size for a proper overhang.

Click here to see these heavy-duty scissors on Amazon.

All you need to do is measure the length and width of the desired area rug. Then, you simply subtract two inches from each measurement. The results will equal the dimensions you should use for your rug pad. In other words, the area rug should hang over the rug pad by one inch on all sides.

How thick padding under an area rug?

Now you can choose the thickness and material. The most popular material types for rug pads include rubber, felt, and foam. Each one is more ideal for different types of flooring. Typically, the goal is to create as much grip as possible between the area rug and the floor.

Click here to find this natural rubber rug pad on Amazon.

A natural rubber rug pad would be perfect if you have a hardwood floor. The rubber material will provide more stability against wood than carpeting. However, rubber won’t necessarily have the same effects on surfaces that are not hard. You can read this post to learn about the six best area rug pads for hardwood floors. With carpets and the like, you can use felt or foam rug pads instead.

Felt rug pads are pretty thick, but the ideal thickness is subject to change, too. You’ll usually choose between three-quarters of an inch or half an inch. Your rug pad should not be thicker than the rug. It’s a general rule that thick rug pads are used for heavy and large rugs, while thin rug pads are used for rooms with high traffic.

Clear and clean the desired installation area

This step is easy enough, but may be time consuming. You should remove large furniture and other obstacles from the area. This will allow you to clean up the floor, which is necessary to improve the adhesion of the rug pad.

Install the rug pad

Finally, you can lay down the rug pad. First, use a soft tape to mark the measurements of the area rug. This allows you to properly center everything. Remember that the rug pad should remain one inch away from the edges on all sides.

Lay the area rug down, and fold half of it backward. Unroll half of the rug pad onto the exposed flooring. Then, fold the area rug back over the rug pad.

Finally, unfold the other half of the area rug, and unroll the rest of the rug pad underneath it. This ensures that the overhang will measure correctly.

An alternative method is to lay down the entire rug pad first, centering it properly. Then, fold up one side and roll out the entire area rug on top. Lastly, fold up the area rug enough to unfold the rest of the rug pad.

Which side goes up on carpet padding?

It’s important to note that the manufacturers will always instruct you to keep the soft side of the rug pad down. The soft side should always face the floor in order to prevent damage. This is one of the primary reasons to use a rug pad to begin with.

This means that the flat side of the rug pad will actually be flush with the area rug. This may seem counterintuitive because of how area rugs themselves are laid down.


Carpet installation with worker bending to chisel at tackless tack strip on carpet pad, How To Install Carpet Padding Under An Area RugThere can sometimes be a little mixup between carpet padding and rug pads, but a rug pad can definitely improve your area rug experience. Properly installing a quality rug pad will increase the lifespan, comfort, and safety of your area rugs. Now you just need to take some simple measurements and choose the right material so you can showcase that gorgeous new rug!

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