Rug Pads 101

Rugs are both a luxury and a necessity, depending on what kind of floor we have. There are times when we might not need a rug but simply want to buy one for aesthetic reasons, and that’s perfectly fine. Other times, we would require a rug or two to cover some empty living spaces or add a bit of color to an otherwise drab room. 

Regardless, if we end up buying and owning one, we will definitely need rug pads. Any homeowner with a pricey vintage rug will agree with us 100% on that matter. Owning a carpet without a rug pad is both impractical and a bit wasteful, possibly even dangerous. With that in mind, we urge our like-minded readers to always, always buy a rug pad for every single floor rug they own in the house.

Of course, not all of our readers are rug owners yet, so they might not know what we’re talking about. This article is here to help homeowners learn what rug pads are and why they are so important. Furthermore, it will let them know what types of rug pads there are and which one will suit them best. 

What is a Rug Pad?

As its name suggests, a rug pad is a sheet of material that we place under the rug. It serves as a buffer between the underside of the rug and the floor. 

There are plenty of reasons behind people buying these pads. First and foremost, it’s meant to provide us with safety. There are plenty of floor surfaces that have little to no friction. So, if we were to place a rug on top of them and then step on the rug, we could easily slip and fall. In other words, without a rug pad, we risk seriously injuring either ourselves or other members of the household. 

However, people don’t just buy rug pads for safety. Some want to add some cushioning to the rug itself. For example, kilim rugs can be pretty thin, and if we don’t want to feel the hard floor underneath, we can add a pad and be done with it. Some pads even facilitate airflow between the rug and the floor, allowing the materials to ‘breathe’.

Interestingly enough, a decent pad can also prevent damage, both to the rug and the floor. Generally, the rug will pick up small debris and dirt from various sources, and as it is moving around, this debris will cause friction. That process can wear the rug out in time from underneath, which can result in tearing. In addition, it can leave noticeable marks on certain types of floors. But placing a pad between the rug and the floor can prevent all that. 

Different Types of Rug Pads

Rug pads differ based on what material they are made of. Depending on the surface, a pad might slide or cause friction, so it’s essential to take our floor material into account before settling on a product. Furthermore, some floors need a bit of softening since they are too hard for the human foot, and the rug wouldn’t be enough.

Felt Pads

Owning a 100% felt pad would, admittedly, not provide us with a lot of grip. In other words, it’s not a good option for slippery surfaces like marble. However, it is the perfect material if we need cushioning. Felt is incredibly soft and thick, allowing us to protect our floor from furniture scrapes and scratches. Moreover, it offers good soundproofing for the floor, so it’s perfect if we live above a different household or apartment. The best type of flooring for felt rug pads is hardwood or bamboo. 

Rubber Pads

In terms of what it does, natural rubber (sourced from rubber trees) is the exact opposite of felt. It provides excellent grip, making it the best option if we don’t want to slip on our rug. More importantly, it grips the floor rather than sticking to it, so we can remove it easily if we feel like it. However, rubber is a tough, dense material, so it provides very little cushioning if any. Additionally, this material can work with most hard floors except for vinyl due to the potential negative chemical reaction that specific vinyl finishes can have with rubber. 

Felt-Rubber Pads

Most people tend to look for this particular combination, as it provides the best of both worlds. The felt portion of the pad will give us all the cushioning we need, thus providing proper comfort. On the other hand, the rubber part will handle the gripping and keep the rug in place.

Of course, even a felt-rubber mix isn’t perfect. After all, it will never be as soft as a 100% felt pad nor as safe as a 100% rubber product. The rubber portion will also not make it suitable for particular vinyl floors, despite the presence of felt. Nevertheless, the mix is still an outstanding option for the modern homeowner. 

PVC Pads

When we hear PVC, we tend to cringe immediately. Traditionally, PVC is a low-grade artificial plastic material that feels awful to the touch. Moreover, it tends to scrape and stain hard floors. However, nowadays, experts can manufacture high-grade PVC from soybean oil, an eco-friendly alternative with a lot less damage to the floors themselves. But, of course, even eco-friendly PVC cannot provide the proper cushioning felt can.

Memory Foam Pads

In terms of absolute cushioning, few things can beat memory foam. This material is often used in pillows and mattresses, retaining the shape of the person who uses it and adapting to the anatomy of the human body. In other words, it is the single most comfortable option here. However, it provides minimal grip, so it’s not a good idea if we intend to use memory foam pads on marble or tile floors. 

Rug Pad Alternatives

Bizarrely, but more often than one might think, people simply cannot find a pad on short notice. Either they are too expensive, or the retailer is too far away, and delivery of the pad would take weeks. So, what can we use as an alternative to rug pads if we’re in a pinch?

The most popular options include:

  • Double-sided tape
  • Silicone caulk
  • Shelf liners
  • Hook and loop rug anchors
  • Tacks or rug pins
  • Hot glue

Sadly, none of these options is without its flaws. For example, double-sided tape leaves a sticky residue behind, so it might damage the rug. On the other hand, hot glue and tacks will definitely damage it, as will silicone caulk. Finally, hook and loop anchors and shelf liners are a neat temporary idea, but they lose their grip quickly. That’s why it’s crucial to get a proper rug pad ASAP.   

Rug Pads: Final Thoughts

As we have adequately illustrated, rug pads are a must-have for any rug we intend to put on the floor. Of course, no single pad is perfect, and getting one that suits our needs will require careful research. After all, the right pad will protect both our floor and our rug, as well as ourselves and our loved ones.

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