Choosing the Right Rug Pad

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Your beautiful new rug may be admired by guests when they visit, but the rug pad you place beneath it is just as important. There is a large array of options and without guidance it’s easy to become overwhelmed, so here’s what you need to know before you go shopping:

Avoid Synthetics. The wrong rug pad can actually harm your floors. Since pads are seldom moved, this damage might go unnoticed for a long time. Many lower-cost rug pads are made from PVC, a type of vinyl, which is made from petroleum-based chemicals (a non-breathable material) meaning it is unable to absorb or release moisture. Instead, it “sweats” against the floor, damaging the finish. Therefore, it’s best to avoid vinyl and PVC rug pads altogether. The cost to refinish or replace damaged flooring can easily exceed the relatively minor savings on the cost of the pad.

Go Natural. The best rug pads are made from natural materials. Recycled felt and 100% natural rubber are the most popular, though wool is another common option. Natural materials won’t damage your floor’s finish, and their density increases the stability of the rug. Felt pads are particularly popular when combined with oriental area rugs. This provides a luxurious feel while also offering thermal and sound insulation benefits. Solid natural rubber pads are perfect for cushion and slip resistance. Wool is a great alternative for people who are allergic to latex products. While wool is inherently flame retardant, and thermally and acoustically insulating, it can be problematic for those with airborne allergies.

The thickness and dimensions of your rugs should guide your selection of rug pad material:

Rug Sizes:

Small Rugs. For rugs that measure 3’x5’ or smaller, you need a thin, nonskid rug pad. This is particularly true for rugs located in high-traffic areas, since a thinner pad poses less of a tripping hazard.

Large Rugs. Rugs that are 8’x10’ and larger are typically heavy enough to stay put without a nonskid pad. Felt protects the floor well, and a ¼-inch or 3/8-inch pad is generally adequate.

Rug Thickness:

Thin Rugs. These are best when paired with a pad that’s a combination of rubber and felt – either 1/8” or ¼” thick, depending on the amount of cushioning you prefer.

Thick Rugs. Plusher rugs – such as Oriental rugs – work well with a ¼” or 3/8” thick pad. If the rug is ½” thick or more, a rug pad that’s too thick could present a tripping hazard.

The right rug pad is a great investment. They reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents, protect your floors from damage, and extend the life of your beautiful new rugs.

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