You've chosen your new carpeting and now it's time to buy padding. You may be tempted to select the least expensive padding in order to cut costs, but this decision can potentially cost more in the long run while providing less than optimum satisfaction with your new carpet.
Carpet padding provides an insulating layer between flooring and carpet; it helps reduce moisture damage to subflooring and can also protect carpet from damaged wood flooring underneath carpet. If you're carpeting over an inflexible hard surface such as cement or tile, good quality padding is especially important to provide comfort, because it cushions your feet. Carpet padding also provides noise insulation.
Although it's a good idea to buy good quality padding, you don't want to go overboard. Home repair expert Bob Vila notes that carpet padding should not exceed 7/16" under any circumstances. Excessively thick padding can void the manufacturer's warranty for your carpet, because it can cause carpet to wear faster than it should. If you want a luxurious, well cushioned feel to your carpet, select a densely woven carpet with high pile, and support it with padding of appropriate weight and the highest quality (as opposed to thickest) padding you can afford.
The weight (density) of carpet padding determines how well it can protect your carpet from foot traffic and the weight of heavy furniture. For high traffic areas, carpet padding with a weight of at least 6.5 pounds per cubic foot is required. Note that measurements of carpet padding weight may be calculated by cubic feet or cubic yards.
Ask your carpet installer about green carpet padding made from materials including wool and jute. This type of padding doesn't have to be sent to a landfill and is manufactured in a way that doesn't require the use of potentially toxic glue.
About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.