Carpet cushion, or “pad,” is available in three basic types: foam, fiber, and rubber.
Each type of carpet pad has several different varieties and constructions. The type and thickness of cushion you need varies according to traffic levels and carpet patterns. Bedrooms and other areas with light or moderate traffic, for example, can use thicker and softer carpet cushion. Living rooms, family rooms, hallways, stairs and other heavy traffic areas require thinner and firmer cushion.
Consult The Floor Store experts to help you decide the best carpet cushion for you.
The Carpet Cushion Council describes the three different types as follows:
Foam Carpet Cushion
Generally speaking, foam carpet cushion comes in three recognized, clearly different varieties:
Prime polyurethane foam is a firmer version of the same cushioning used in upholstered furniture, mattresses, and automobile seats. Two liquid ingredients are combined to form a large mass of foam, which is then sliced into sheets for use as a carpet cushion.
Bonded polyurethane foam (sometimes called rebond) is quite unique. You cannot mistake it when you see it, because it is formed by combining chopped and shredded pieces of foam, in different sizes and usually different colors, into one solid piece. It frequently has a surface net for ease of installation and improved performance.
Bonded foam is one of the most amazing recycling projects of all time. Nearly all the scrap foam in the U.S., and some from other countries as well, is utilized to make bonded cushion. This recycles waste which would otherwise be thrown out, and it eases the strain on our landfills. Moreover, bonded foam is itself recyclable.
Froth polyurethane foam is made with carpet backing machinery. Liquid ingredients are applied, either directly to the backs of some carpet styles, or to a non-woven material (for making separate cushion). They reach and form a thin, dense foam which is particularly useful in commercial applications with wide expanses of carpet.
Rubber Carpet Cushion
There are two basic types of sponge rubber carpet cushion:
Waffled rubber carpet cushion is made by molding natural or synthetic rubber. Heat cures the rubber and forms a waffle pattern. This variety produces a soft, resilient cushion whose luxurious feel is particularly useful for residences.
Flat sponge rubber is a firm, dense carpet cushion which has a flat surface and is normally used in large-scale commercial applications and with loop type (or Berber) carpet.
Rubber carpet cushion manufacturing processes can be varied to produce different levels of density and firmness. The usual measurement is the weight in ounces per square yard.
Fiber Carpet Cushion
Foam and rubber carpet cushions are produced from new and recycled materials. Fiber carpet cushion, on the other hand, uses existing fibers (both virgin and recycled, and either natural or man-made fibers) which are interlocked into a useful sheet of felt. There are two distinct varieties of fiber carpet cushion:
Natural fibers include felt, animal hair, and jute (the material used to make some kinds of rope and heavy burlap bags). This is one of the oldest types of carpet cushion, dating back to the earliest days of machine-made carpet.
Synthetic fibers include nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and acrylics, which are needle-punched into relatively dense cushions which have a firm feel and, as with other types of carpet cushion, can be made in virtually any weight, to stand up under light, medium, or heavy traffic, which is how they are usually classified.
Berber carpet is becoming increasingly popular, and needs a thin, firm carpet cushion. When buying this type of carpet, be sure that the accompanying cushion has been specified by the manufacturer as suitable for Berber carpet.
Radiant heating is becoming more widely used in certain sections of the country. In the case of radiant heating, you do not want a carpet cushion which is an exceptionally effective insulator, but one which allows the heat from the subflooring to penetrate the carpet system and heat the room. A relatively thin, flat cellular sponge rubber or synthetic fiber carpet cushion works well under these circumstances.