Finding a rug pad that works

Choosing the right rug pad can be a challenge

I am going to provide you with some rug pad details so you can be a better informed buyer.

Here’s what I’ll cover throughout this article:

  1. Benefits: It’s important to decide which benefits are most important.
  2. Proper Size: This will be straightforward based on your rug size.
  3. Materials: What material is best for your flooring type and which materials you should avoid.
  4. Flooring Compatibility: Some floor materials are notorious for staining or degrading with certain pad materials.
  5. Rug Pad Thickness: Thickness starts at about .125″ and can go as high as up to .500″.
  6. Green Label Plus certification

Rug Pad Benefits

Rug pads are not a gimmick or fad. The concept has been around ever since the early 1900’s when padding began to be used beneath carpeting. Obviously, materials have changed over the years, but everyone understands that when you have carpet installed there also has to be carpet padding installed.

This also holds true for rugs. Whether your rug is on a hard surface such as hardwood, laminate, tile or even concrete basement floors a rug pad is needed beneath your rug for several reasons that we’ll cover here.

Rug pads are out of sight, but serve an important purpose

Rug pads don’t get the attention they deserve. There just hasn’t been enough education on how quality rug pads are the source behind added comfort and durability of your rugs. Often times, people choose the least expensive pad option, rather than focusing on enhancing the quality of their rugs. The comfort and durability of your rug is dependent on the rug pad underneath it, taking some time to become informed is well worth the time and extra investment.

Rug pads offer other benefits beyond comfort and durability. Larger rug pads insulate your home for better energy efficiency and reduce noise. Many pads are also hypoallergenic and good for the indoor air quality of your home. You will also have the choice of picking rug pads with a moisture barrier to protect against spills and antimicrobial features that defend against mold, mildew, and odor-causing bacteria. This is especially important for families with children and pets.

Protect your investment

It’s a wise choice to select the highest quality rug pad you can afford. You’ve already made a large investment in a new rug and the pad will provide assurance that your rug stays in great shape for an extended period of time.

In most opinions, an important benefit is that the rug pad will keep your rug from slipping and getting bunched up. Bunched up or sliding rugs are a safety issue and potential tripping hazard for everyone, but especially for kids, pets, and people with limited mobility. With the proper rug pad, your rug will stay flat and secure even on a smooth surface.

There are other opinions that think protecting the floor is most important. Opinions are personal preference and thereby should be yours as well. Understanding the many benefits that rug pads provide allows you to decide what’s most important to you. Spending your hard earned money on a designer rug or maybe a high end Turkish or Persian rug as an investment shouldn’t stop there. Regardless of your rug and floor type, they both need protected and that’s the job of a rug pad. Pay close attention to the backing of your rug. There are many rugs that have an abrasive backing that can certainly harm your flooring. The addition of a rug pad will provide protection for your floor and keep the rug from wearing out prematurely.

Rug Pads play a vital role in rug maintenance 

A new rug can be a serious investment for some people. Area rugs can change the look and feel of a house while providing a myriad of benefits such as comfort, insulation, noise reduction, and visual appeal. Proper rug care can help maintain these benefits longer by extending the life of the rug.

Rugs in high-traffic areas suffer the most from wear and tear. Heavy furniture can also cause indentations in your rug, some of which can be permanent. In cases where high-traffic is necessary, rug life can be extended with a rug pad. Premium rug pads perform as a shock absorber and can dramatically reduce the level of strain on the rug, keeping it looking new and feeling luxurious much longer.

Crushing, a decrease in pile thickness, is another common problem in high-traffic areas. Regular vacuuming can help reduce the appearance of crushing by fluffing up the rug fibers. Rug pads can also help reduce crushing by providing more support and absorbing the impact of footsteps or furniture. Matting, the untwisting and intermingling of yarn, is similar to crushing and can occur as well. Matting can be attributed to several factors, including improper maintenance, failure to install a rug pad, or using a rug pad that is not suitable for the particular rug. Researching the correct type of rug pad to use for a specific rug can help deter matting. Rug manufacturers will often recommend a rug pad of a certain thickness.

Rug pads help with upkeep as well by inhibiting the growth of mold and mildew with antibacterial properties. Upkeep is important for a rug to keep it looking and feeling great. Installing the right rug pad can keep the rug safe from damage and odor-causing bacteria.

What size rug pad do I need

All of our rug pads are available in the most common rug sizes. From time to time we come across odd or unconventional sizes that might have been custom made for specific rooms or hallways. Often, combining a couple standard size rug pads will accommodate your situation. Often times we have seen rug manufacturers list incorrect rug sizes on their label, therefore make sure you actually measure your rug before buying your new rug pad. Normal recommendations are installing your rug pad 1″ shorter on all four sides of your rug. This is to allow your rug to lay flat on the floor while still providing all the benefits. However, there are many rugs that might need a rug pad to be 1.5″-2″ shorter on all four side in order to lay flat and have contact with your floor. Having the edges of your rug lay flat on your floor is very important, if not, you are creating a tripping hazard. For this reason, all of our rug pads are customizable with standard household scissors. We believe this is the best way to have a perfectly sized rug pad.

Rug Pad Materials and Uses

The material you choose for your rug pad makes a big difference in performance.

  1. PVC
  2. 100% Felt
  3. Felt/Rubber
  4. Felt/EVA Foam
  5. Felt/PVC
  6. Rug Over Carpet

PVC rug pads are generally less expensive than others, but can cause some problems with the floor. The plastic chemicals do not interact well with hardwood floors, causing discoloration or voiding of the manufacturers warranty. They do make cheap non-slip surfaces, however replacing them will become a common and annoying occurrence. Normally after a year or less, they begin to lose their gripping power and your rug begins to shift or bunch up. These types of rug pads can be purchased locally at your favorite big box store or an online retailer. The main issue with most of these rug pads is that they’re imported and normally coated with some sort of adhesive product to promote gripping. These products can contain toxic chemicals that will have an adverse reaction with your wood floors and cause staining. PVC rug pads can contribute to poorer indoor air quality as PVC products can off gas chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A study by the California Air Resources Board found forty chemicals, some of which are toxic, off-gassing from PVC products.

Fortitude .375″

100% Felt rug pads are an excellent choice for adding extra cushion and support when you have furniture or other heavy objects keeping your rug in place. Sometimes larger, heavier rugs could also be compatible with an all felt rug pad, but be careful, slipping and tripping hazards occur when a rug is not secure. Small or medium sized rugs do not do well when paired with a 100% felt rug pad. Thickness is also a factor when purchasing this type of rug pad. There are many options ranging from 1/8″ up to 3/4″ thick, but we have found that 3/8″ is a very good common ground for this type of rug pad. This thickness provides a nice cushion without being too soft. Having a firmer rug pad will lengthen the life of your rug in the long run because it minimizes the crushing factor of the rug fibers.

gripcore ultimate
GripCore Ultimate .250″

Felt/Rubber rug pads are normally the best all around rug pad on the market and the optimal choice for most situations. These rug pads offer more grip than PVC or Latex, last longer and come with warranties up to 20 years. Always make sure 100% rubber is being used. Spray on rubber coatings have been known to flake off over time and cause premature breakdown or degradation of the rug pad. Premium rug pads come with a scratchy fiber side and a rubber side. The rubber side contacts your hard surface and provides a non-skid keeping your rug securely in place. The scratchy fiber side is in contact with the underside of your rug keeping it firmly in place on top of the rug pad. 

gripcore platinum
GripCore Platinum .250″

Felt/EVA Foam rug pad has been newly developed to specifically address LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile), LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) and all vinyl flooring in general. Luxury vinyl is the hottest trending floor covering in 2020 and has been for the past five years. Most DIY’s can install it and it’s less costly than your natural hardwood options. New brands are showing up everywhere and manufacturers are creating new exclusive brands for your local big box stores. However, what’s not being talked about is how rubber and latex backed rugs and pads on vinyl flooring is a terrible combination. You can read this on most cartons of vinyl flooring, but some manufacturers fail to disclose this fact and place the due diligence on you the consumer to find out for yourself.

Chemicals used within these compounds can cause yellowing or staining of your vinyl flooring. These chemicals are used to protect the rubber and latex from deteriorating over time, but create an adverse chemical reaction with the vinyl finish. Another reason staining and discoloration occurs on your vinyl is due to poor air circulation beneath the rug. Without circulation, rubber can create a seal and become stuck to your flooring creating costly damage and floor replacement. The rug pad shown above provides excellent air circulation with its ribbed backing and is approved for all flooring including vinyl.

Grip Core Designer folded over on a hardwood floor
GripCore Thin Designer .165″

Felt/PVC rug pad is another option for consumers on a budget. As mentioned earlier under PVC, most of these rug pads should be avoided. However, there are some quality PVC rug pads on the market that have taken extra steps to ensure consumer safety. We have these available in two different thicknesses .165″ and .250″ depending on your preference of firmness. The flower pattern allows for air circulation while the PVC backing provides a secure non-skid for safety. As a low profile, thinner rug pad, this allows your rug to lay flatter to the floor while allowing doors to open with ease. This reversible rug pad was designed for use on all indoor floor surfaces such as tile, hardwood, laminates, linoleum, concrete, vinyl, etc. or on rug-to-carpet applications.

Grip Core Platinum shown with rug folded back
GripCore Platinum .250″

Rug over Carpet rug pad is accomplished by using one of our GripCore products because they are all reversible. Using a rug pad on a carpeted floor will not only protect the fibers of the rug, but it will protect the fibers in the carpet as well. This creates longevity for that area of the carpet. Reducing friction is number one when it comes to extending rug and carpet life. So, contrary to what most people think, using a rug pad on carpet is just as important as on hard surfaces. Using a dual surface rug pad in between your rug and carpet works very well to keep your rug in place on top of the carpet. The rug pad is used in a reversed position compared to a hard surface. The gripper side faces up and meets the back of our rug and the textured fiber side is placed down coming in contact with your carpet.

Still not sure which type of rug pad you need? Your rug size can help with your decision.

We just covered the different materials that make up premium rug pads and their uses. Your decision should be close, but if not, this next section should have you zeroed in on the perfect rug pad for your situation.

Your rug dimensions can help determine what type rug pad you should use. All rug sizes present their own different issues that a rug pad can address. So, here we go…

Grip Core Platinum on hardwood floor
GripCore Multi-Surface .150″

Runners and small rugs are the hardest to keep in place. Normally there’s not much weight to them and they are most commonly placed in high traffic areas. For these reasons, a thinner pad  between .125″ – .250″ is recommended. Since there won’t be furniture or heavy objects keeping your rug in place we suggest using any GripCore product except the GripCore Omni-Tex because it is .375″ thick.

GripCore Thin Designer .165″

We have options for every budget and preference. Our felt/rubber, felt/PVC or felt/EVA rug pads will work for small rugs and runners and best of all, they all provide air circulation so stale odors won’t get trapped. The rug pad should be able to grip both the rug and the floor without sticking to your floor’s finish causing damage issues and voiding warranties from the manufacturer. The main focus when dealing with runners and small rugs is keeping them in place to avoid tripping, bunching and slipping. Going with a thicker or softer more comfortable rug pad is not the goal when it comes to these two rug styles.

gripcore ultimate
GripCore Ultimate .250″

Medium rugs are measuring 4-5 feet wide and up to 8 feet long. Your typical 5×8 rug it what we’re talking about here. They don’t normally have the moving or slipping characteristics of small rugs and runners, but they sometimes have problems bunching up. The normal benefits of a rug pad still apply to medium rugs, protection, longevity and safety. Rug pad thickness for medium rugs usually fall between .125″ and .250″. However, consumers can opt for a thicker .375″ rug pad for a little more cushion if it’s within their budget. However, medium rugs can still have problems bunching up unless your rug is under furniture, our recommendation is a GripCore product to take advantage of a non-skid backing. The two items below are customer favorites when it comes to medium rugs.

GripCore Omni-Tex .375″

Large rugs are sometimes an investment or just used for setting up a beautiful theme in your home. Frequently these large rugs set the tone for the entire room and normally have furniture placed on top of them. If that’s the case, a felt rug pad is all you need to protect both your floor and your rug. Normal thickness for large rug pads is .375″-.500″ which gives plenty of cushion and stability underfoot.  Some consumers opt for a felt/rubber rug pad for the extra grip when heavy furniture is not being used to keep their rug in place or when your large rug is thinner and tends to bunch up to one side. Either option does its job by adding cushion and providing protection for both your rug and floor.


Floor Compatibility

With everything mentioned throughout this article, I’m sure you’ve been able to notice a consistent pattern. Rug pads are needed and should always be used beneath your rug! I’ve given examples, thickness variations and what to look out for from those imported rug pads. But, no matter how great the quality of the rug pad is, if it’s not compatible with your floor there will be costly damage in the future. Whether you purchase your rug pads from us at RugPad Nation or one of our competitors, alway make sure there is documentation stating the rug pad is safe for your style of flooring. If you do enough research with what you’ve learned here you’ll begin to see what warranties are associated with each brand.

Vinyl: Do your research with your flooring manufacturer and find out what their recommendations are for your specific brand and model of flooring. Some of this information can be found on the cartons or from your independent installer.

Hardwood: Use a premium rug pad that is made in the USA and documents that it won’t damage your flooring. There should also be a warranty established in writing. Stay away from imported PVC.

Laminate: Same as Hardwood.

Concrete: Does not present compatibility issues except for possible moisture related problems. Some rug pads will list that they are moisture resistant.

Other flooring types:  For assorted types not listed above, your rug pad supplier should be able to recommend which of their products are suitable for your flooring type.

Green Label Plus Sets a Higher Standard for Indoor Air Quality

There is a growing demand to make indoor environments as healthy and “green-friendly” as possible. Choosing the right materials is a critical step. To assist in the process, The Carpet and Rug Institute “CRI” has created Green Label Plus for carpet, adhesives, and cushion to raise the bar on lowering emissions.

Green Label Plus is a voluntary, industry testing program for carpet, adhesive and cushion products that establish the highest standard for indoor air quality (IAQ) ever set by the carpet industry. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) created Green Label Plus to identify carpets, adhesives and cushions that are tested by an independent, certified laboratory and meet stringent criteria for low chemical emissions.

• It ensures customers they are purchasing the lowest emitting carpet, adhesive and cushion products on the market.

• It is designed for architects, builders, specifiers and facility managers who want assurance that carpet, adhesive and cushion products meet the most stringent criteria for low chemical emissions.

CRI Green Label +Plus
Family & Pet Safe

Make sure to purchase products that have been given the Green Label +Plus seal of approval.

Green Label Plus Measures Up

The Green Label Plus is an example of the Carpet and Rug Institute’s leadership in the best practices of environmental responsibility. American National Standard Institute (ANSI), the premier source for international standardization and conformity assessment, has accredited CRI for testing indoor air quality.

Green Label Plus is the first, and only, ANSI-accredited green carpet program in the U.S. An accreditation body is an impartial third party that tests and evaluates a product to determine its compliance with relevant standards.

Green Label Plus programs, which test for and certify low emissions from carpet and adhesive, comply with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Guide 17065, General Requirements for Bodies Operating Product Certification Programs.

• ANSI Accreditation is a further assurance that the products tested and certified by CRI are green building products that meet high standards for indoor air quality.

Up Next: Green Label Plus Testing