Do You Know the Difference Between a Rug Pad and a Carpet Pad? (Let's Find Out)


woman sitting with laptop on rug on hardwood floor

Never confuse a rug pad and a carpet pad again with this handy guide

There’s nothing more exciting than finding the right area rug. Ok, not nothing, but still – after hours of scrolling through websites and pacing the aisle of your favorite home decor store, you’ve finally found the rug that ties your whole room together.

Now you need to start thinking about how you will anchor it in place to prevent tripping hazards and unsightly buckling. You’ll want a natural rubber and felt product to place between your rug and floor to create traction and keep your area rug from shifting.

As you start to search, you’re faced with two products: rug pads and carpet pads. What’s the difference? Which one is right for you?

The truth is, while many people confuse them, rug pads and carpet pads are two completely different products.

Let’s look at why you need a carpet pad or rug pad, what each product is, and the best ones to use in your home.

Why you need a carpet pad or rug pad

Rug pads and carpet pads are often overlooked but critical to your area rug or carpeting performance. They are the unsung heroes of home decor.

Both products act as a buffer between your rug or carpet and the bare floor. Their primary function is to protect your rug from continuously rubbing up against the hard floors, which causes the carpet fibers to flatten and the underside of your carpet or rug to scratch the flooring.

However, there are many other reasons why you should never skip a carpet pad or rug pad.

Why you need rug pads and carpet pads

While it may seem tempting to save a few bucks and skip the carpet pad or rug pad, it’s worth investing in a high-quality pad that will protect your floors, your rug and make your home more comfortable.

That being said, you should understand the distinction between the two so that you don’t use one in place of the other.

What is a rug pad?

rug in living room with hardwood floor

A rug pad is a specially designed sheet of material that acts as a barrier between your area rug and your home’s flooring. It’s meant to protect both the rug and floor while making area rugs less likely to shift or move when walked on.

Typically, rug pads offer a combination of cushioning and non-slip grip, though some models favor one function over the other.

Benefits of a rug pad

When you choose the right rug pad for your area rug, you’ll find more benefits than just keeping your rug in place.

  • Protects Your Area Rug: Once you’ve chosen the best area rug for your space, you’ll want a rug pad to prevent excessive wear and tear.
  • Adds Luxurious Cushioning: Depending on the type, rug pads add comfortable cushioning beneath any area rug.
  • Prevents Slipping Hazards: Not all rugs have a non-slip backing, meaning if you make a wrong step, you may slip and fall. A rug pad will keep your area rug securely in place.
  • Enhances Your Cleaning Efforts: Because a rug pad enhances the airflow between your area rug and flooring, it makes your vacuuming more efficient.

Let’s take a look at what type of rug pad you’ll need for your area rug.

Rug pad functions

boxes for three options

Different rug pads have other functions. Before you purchase a rug pad to sit beneath your area rug, ask yourself what benefits you’ll need.

Non-Slip Grip?

Luxurious Cushioning?

Cushioning and Grip?



Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll have an easier time choosing the perfect rug pad for your area rug.

Here is a breakdown of the different types of rug pads.


What It Does: Non-slip rug pads keep area rugs in place, especially in high-traffic areas or spaces where slipping can cause serious injuries, like the kitchen or bathroom.

Which To Buy: Super-Lock Natural is made with over a pound of natural rubber per square yard and has a classic waffle design that allows your rug and floors to breathe while anchoring them in place.


What It Does: Rug pads that offer cushioning aimed to make you comfortable. They add softness and luxury beneath any area rug in your home but are best for places you rest your feet, like living rooms and bedrooms.

Which To Buy: Cloud Comfort Memory Foam is a relaxing dream. You’ll think you were walking on a memory foam mattress with this viscoelastic memory foam rug pad.

Cushioning and non-slip grip

What It Does: A rug pad that offers superior grip and comfortable cushioning can be used anywhere in your home to ensure your area rug stays in place and provides comfort as you walk.

Which To Buy: Superior-Lock has a rich, dense core lined with a natural rubber backing. It offers the maximum amount of cushioning and grip possible in a rug pad.


What It Does: Let’s face it- sometimes we spill stuff, or our pets just can’t hold it in any longer. Liquid messes call for a waterproof rug pad that will protect your floors. Use them anywhere an area rug may come in contact with moisture, like a bathroom, living room, or kitchen area.

Which To Buy: Choose Anchor Grip for a waterproof layer beneath your area rug that offers maximum grip with a surprising amount of padding.

What is a carpet pad?

dining area with wall-to-wall carpeting

A carpet pad, also known as a carpet cushion, is a large sheet of padding installed underneath your wall-to-wall carpet.

Unlike a rug pad, carpet pads are stapled or glued to the subflooring of your space. If you’re installing a floating floor (meaning you are putting wall-to-wall carpeting over another flooring type) it will be attached to a protective barrier rather than the floor.

Benefits of a carpet pad

Carpet pads don’t just act as a buffer between your expensive flooring and wall-to-wall carpet. They offer key benefits that will enhance your carpet’s performance.

  • Enhanced Comfort: No matter how thick your carpet pile is, without a quality carpet pad beneath it, it just won’t be comfortable.
  • Increases Carpet Lifespan: Without a carpet pad, the backing of your carpet will quickly break down and lose its shape, making it look worn prematurely.
  • Heat Insulation: Adding the right carpet pad will help you save on utility costs since they block drafts and hold in your heating and cooling.
  • Soundproofing: Whether you live in an apartment or house, hearing heavy footsteps can be distracting and annoying. A good carpet pad will muffle media noise, footsteps, and pet nails.

Because carpet pads are attached to the subflooring, you won’t need to worry about slipping. Let’s take a look at the best types of carpet pads.

Types of carpet pads


Superior Lock rug pad on hardwood floor

Superior-Lock is made with more felt than rubber to offer luxurious, cushioned support beneath your carpet. The thin rubber layer on the bottom of the carpet pad ensures it stays in place while the felt topper grips your carpet to prevent that unsightly waving effect that can happen in high traffic areas like the entryway or hallway.

The dense felt core of Superior-Lock is perfect for adding cushioning underfoot while keeping your carpeting in place for years to come. This carpet pad is ideal if you’re looking for the ultimate durability, grip, and cushioning combined into one long-lasting product.


Contour Lock rug pad on hardwood floor

If you are installing a high pile carpet, you’ll want a more moderate level of cushioning to prevent bulking.

Contour-Lock is 1/8th of an inch thick and made from 100% recycled felt and rubber to ensure you get maximum durability, firm grip, and a medium level of cushioning. The solid design prevents debris from becoming trapped between the carpet pad and flooring to enhance your vacuum’s performance.

Because Contour-Lock is made from all-natural, high-quality ingredients, you won’t have to worry about it degrading beneath your carpeting. It also works well for humid areas since Contour Lock is moisture and mildew-resistant.


RugPro rug pad on hardwood floor

If you want a low-profile look to your carpeted floors, opt for RugPro. It’s made from felt and natural rubber, and at only 1/16th of an inch, it will give your wall-to-wall carpeting a sleek look while offering maximum grip.

Rug Pro also works well for high-pile carpets that don’t need additional cushioning. It’s best to ensure your carpeting is secured to the floor. Its solid design prevents dirt from passing through, meaning your carpet won’t hold dust and dirt as you vacuum.

Other things you want to know

Once you understand the difference between carpet pads and rug pads, choosing the best product for your home will be easy.

Here are some more things you’ll want to know when deciding between rug pads and carpet pads.

How do I know if I need to replace my carpet pad?

When you start to notice wrinkles, buckling, or hear a crinkling sound underfoot, it’s a good possibility that your carpet pad needs to be replaced.

If your carpet is in good condition, it’s possible to replace the carpet pad and roll the existing carpet back out.

What size rug pad should I buy for my new area rug?

When purchasing a rug pad for your new area rug, always measure your area rug first. Then, buy a rug pad that is one inch smaller in diameter than your rug.

This will ensure your rug drapes appropriately and prevents the rug pad from peeking out from the edges of your area rug, which ruins the aesthetic.

What is the best rug pad for a flatweave rug?

Flatweave rugs can be tricky. Because they are on the thinner side, they are prone to curling and shifting. And their rough backings don’t mix well with slippery, hard floors.

The best rug pad for a flatweave rug is one that combines rubber and felt to grip the rug and hold it in place without any movement.

I keep tripping on my bunching rug. What can I do?

To prevent bunching and tripping on your area rug, ensure the corners don’t curl up and hold it firmly in place with a rug pad made from 100% natural rubber and felt.

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