Picking the Perfect Pad
The pad is the carpet's support system. It makes the carpet feel richer and more comfortable to walk on and keeps the carpet from getting worn and matted. Good padding also makes carpeting easier to clean by enabling air to circulate through the carpet when you vacuum.
When you buy new carpeting, you'll also select padding. Prime urethane pads ($3 to $4 per square yard) are generally the least expensive because they have a tendency to compress after installation, especially in high-traffic areas. Natural- and synthetic-fiber pads ($5 to $6 per square yard) are the densest and most resilient but also the most expensive. Bonded or rebonded pads ($4 to $5 per square yard), made of multicolored polyurethane foam chunks, are a good compromise and are the most common padding for residential use.
All of these types come in a variety of thicknesses and densities. It's important that you use the right pad for the carpet or you can actually damage the carpet. "An extra-thick pad can cause the carpet to flex too much, opening seams and weakening the backing," says Gary Johnson, technical consultant at the Carpet & Rug Institute, in Dalton, Georgia. "A pad that's too thin can collapse and cause the carpet to wrinkle or wear out prematurely."
The Carpet Cushion Council and the CRI have developed padding specs based on room traffic. A Class 1 rating is for moderate traffic, such as in bedrooms and formal living rooms. A Class 2 rating is for heavier traffic, such as on stairs or in halls. Within each rating there's a range of options, depending upon your budget and the feel you want. Ask your dealer to show you the CRI chart.

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