Added cushion and traction mean a safer living space, easier cleaning, and years of additional life for your rug
Regardless of whether your rug feels thick and cushioned, it still needs a rug pad. Because the pad isn’t for your feet — it’s for the rug!
Don’t get us wrong — rug pads can certainly add a level of comfort, especially when they’re placed under a flat weave rug that has no pile to speak of. But ultimately, the best reason to buy a rug pad is that it will extend the life of your rug. And the right rug pad will help protect your floor as well.
Four advantages to using a rug pad
Safety: Rugs will almost always shift to some degree — even large, heavy rugs. Lighter flat weave rugs are even more susceptible to sliding under foot, particularly in areas where children might be running through the room. Simply placing furniture on top of the rug may secure that part, but not the whole rug. As a result, your area rug needs an additional foundation to keep it in one place. Rug pads are constructed to be less slick than the back of a typical rug, and some even include tacky surfaces to assist even more.
Stability: Any time your rug shifts, it creates friction between the floor and the rug backing, which can cause premature wear, particularly if the floor has a rough or uneven surface. If dirt or pebbles slip under the rug, they can scratch softer surfaces like hardwood floors. Even a rug that is anchored on the sides by furniture can still shift and bunch in the middle, especially if it’s a flat weave rug.
Ventilation: When rugs aren’t properly ventilated on the bottom, it’s easy for moisture to accumulate, soak in, and weaken the rug — as well as cause mildew. That’s especially true if the rug surface doesn’t lie flat on the floor, possibly developing ridges or bumps where dirt and dust can collect. Using a rug pad that allows for proper ventilation can help keep your rug cleaner and moisture-free. In addition, vacuum cleaners work much better on rugs when there is sufficient airflow underneath.
Cushioning: Different types of rug are better suited for high levels of traffic, which is why you should always think about how you use a space before you select a rug. Regardless, as more people walk on your rug, it’s continually being pressed down into the floor – and the harder the surface underneath, the less give and more impact the rug takes. Adding a layer of padding helps cushion the rug and lessen the pressure on the rug fibers. Additionally, the pad helps with sound insulation.
While it’s tempting to simply get the thickest pad and get the most cushioning, you should always be careful about using thicker pads with thin rugs, as this can potentially make the rug more vulnerable to punctures or tears under heeled shoes. Typically, your rug should be between 1/8th and 1/4th inch off the floor. If your floor has uneven surfaces such as bricks or raised tiles, a thicker pad works best. If you can see the rug pad outline through your rug, the pad is probably too thick.
How to cut your rug pad to size
Rug pads come in a range of sizes, but they won’t always match perfectly with the rug you choose. Fortunately, you can easily cut your own rug pad if the retailer cannot do it for you.
Depending on the rug pad you’ve bought, you may be able to trim it with a sturdy pair of household scissors. Make sure to measure your rug, and then mark off your rug pad so that the finished pad will leave approximately one inch of rug overlap on all sides. That doesn’t include any decorative edges or fringes.
How to install your rug pad
Once the pad is properly trimmed, place it where you want the rug to lie on the floor, and position the rolled-up rug on one end, so that the edge of the rug is on the floor about an inch in front of the edge of the pad. Make sure your sides are evenly lined up, so that you have about an inch on each side. Then, unroll the rug onto the pad. The rug pad should stay completely flat, to avoid any bunching that will cause bumps in the rug.
Many rug pads are created from naturally non-slip materials, or feature a tacky side to help anchor the pad to the floor and keep the rug stable. You might also consider double-sided tape, which can help keep the rug properly positioned on the pad. Always check your floor warranty to see what rug pads are recommended for your floor surface, as some pads are treated with adhesives and can cause discoloration on certain surfaces.
While the rug pile gets the most traffic and attention, the rug’s back is what holds it all together, so including a rug pad will give you an extra level of stability and protection. When coupled with regular cleaning, your rug can provide years and even decades of enjoyment, and truly turn into an heirloom.