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  • Kathy Kilbourn

Understanding Carpet Pad

The Differences and Relationship Between Foam’s Density, Weight, and Firmness

Here's a little info on Flooring, Carpet and padding. Watch this segment on Design Time. If you need to know more, come in and visit us.


One of the most confusing things about foam understanding how foam is measured. It seems that the density or weight of a material would tell you its firmness. Generally, this is true, but when applied to foam, density and firmness are independent measurements for determining a foam’s qualities.

The quantity of a material is measured by size. The density is found by weighing a 12″ x 12″ x 12″ block of the material. If a product has a 2lb density, that means its 12″ x 12″ x 12″ block weighs 2lbs. The density of a for is important to understand in regards to quality.

Some foams are 2 lbs while other foams can weigh as much as 10lbs. Different foam densities are used according to the kind of use it is manufactured for, such as sofa cushions, carpet pad or car seats.


The firmness of a foam product is referring to the support of the foam when pressure is applied. It is important to have support in a carpet pad so that when you step onto the carpet, your foot doesn't just go to the floor and stop! That is called bottoming out. The firmer support feels good under foot but also adds to the longevity of the carpeting by supporting the carpet backing.

Carpet cushion (carpet padding) is the foundation for every residential carpet installation. Carpet pad plays an important part in the performance of your new carpet installation. Carpet and carpet cushion must enhance one another. Selecting either a poor quality carpet or poor quality carpet cushion ensures a carpet installation that is destined to disappoint.

There are several styles of carpet padding used. There is Urethane foam which is a solid looking foam. It comes in several thicknesses as well as density. Urethane can be a great product, but you must make sure it has enough density so that it doesn't flatten.

Another style is called bonded pad. It is made up of urethane pad that has been recycled from other industries such as the furniture and auto manufacturing. It is chewed up and then bonded back together with glue. This also comes in multiple thicknesses and densities

Flat rubber pad is generally used in commercial installation. It can be the most dense of all the products, and could weigh up to 20lbs per square foot. It is a high quality pad, and generally is the most expensive.

Another type of pad known as a waffle pad is not used much today. It was used in the 60's-70's and was considered a great product. After keeping it down for 20+ years, it tended to disintegrate and because clay was used in manufacturing, it looked like a sand pile under your carpet when it was removed. Get out your is the easiest way to clean it up!

Waffle pad today is made with more of a solid foam design, and it has great life.Moisture barrier pads have become very important today with the cleaning warranties being put on today's carpets. You always need to remember that the pad is a sponge and it will absorb liquids that are put on it. That is one of the main problems when cleaning a floor. If your pet has an accident, the liquid will go through the top and into the pad. You can generally clean the carpet and it will look great....for a while! That liquid The got into the padding will wick itself up and the stain will reappear! The moisture barrier pad had a waterproof layer which does not allow the liquid to get into the pad and therefor all stains can be cleaned out of the carpet without the fear of it returning!

There are lots of choices today. It is important to always check the warranty of the carpet that it is being installed under. Many manufacturers require padding to be a half inch or less and the density to be at least 6.1lbs. Remember, the life of the carpet depends on the quality of the pad it lays on!


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