The Best Types of Area Rug Pads

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What should you put under your area rug?. sbayram / E+ / Getty Images

Rug pads are thin underlays that are made specifically for use under area rugs or “scatter rugs”. For information on why you need a pad under your area rug, see the benefits of rug pads.

There are many different options available for rug pads. However, not all of these options will suit every application. When buying a rug pad, it is best to buy a pad that is specially designed for use under an area rug.

Pad or cushion that is designed to be used under the wall-to-wall carpet does not offer some of the features needed for use under area rugs and could end up damaging the floor underneath.

Check With the Floor Manufacturer

Before selecting your rug pad, the best option is to first check the recommendations of your flooring manufacturer. Some types of materials found in rug pads may not be recommended for use on certain flooring types, as they may cause damage to your floor. For example, a rug pad made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) will likely cause discoloration in vinyl flooring and certain types of hardwood finishes. Even laminate floors often hailed as ‘indestructible’, are not necessarily immune to damage from an inappropriate padding. Always check your floor’s warranty to determine if any materials are prohibited from use, and never use any type of product or material that is not recommended by the manufacturer.​

The Best Rug Pad Materials

Aside from the aforementioned PVC rug pads, which are inexpensive but can be damaging, there are three leading types of rug pads that are generally considered acceptable for use on a wide variety of hard surfaces: natural rubber, felt, and a combination of natural rubber and felt.

Natural rubber pads are ideal for preventing area rugs from sliding on hard-surface floors. They grip the rug and hold it in place while providing a cushioned, protective barrier between the rug and floor.

Felt pads are not always successful in holding area rugs in place, so they are good options for large rugs that are well anchored by furniture. Felt pads can provide firm support for the area rug, which is essential to proper rug performance.

Rug pads made from a combination of natural rubber and felt combine the benefits of a non-slip rubber pad with a supportive felt pad.

For laying an area rug over carpet, look for a specially designed rug-to-carpet pad. These pads are typically made of polyester with a vinyl coating and are made to prevent the rug from bunching up on the carpet underneath.

Many Options Available

There are, of course, many other options available, including rug pads made from latex or synthetic rubber material, or natural materials such as jute. Some of these options may be suitable for your situation. Generally, however, the natural rubber and/or felt pads are widely accepted as being among the best rug pad options, for the reasons listed above.

Your flooring and your area rug are investments in your home.

It is worth the relatively small expense of upgrading to a premium rug pad that will protect them both, rather than the large expense of repairing the damage that could occur otherwise.