High-quality Oriental and Persian rugs can be a serious investment, so you want to choose just the right carpet pads to protect them and extend their life and beauty.
While seeking and finding these beautiful rugs may be a passionate pursuit, looking for the right rug pad may not seem quite as exciting. But it need not be confusing or tedious. Let these tips and suggestions make the smartest choice an easy one.
There are many kinds of rugs that fall into the broad category of “Oriental” (any rugs made in Asia and the Middle East, or in the tradition and pattern of Middle Eastern and Asian cultures) and the term “Persian” may be properly be applied to rugs made both inside and outside of Iran, following traditional Persian designs and manufacturing methods.
In general, these rugs are often hand-knotted, handwoven, or hand-loomed and—because the highest-quality examples may last for several generations—sometimes antique. These beautiful rugs are like works of fine art…and many are just as expensive as collectible, original artworks. So think about choosing the right rug pad for your Oriental like framing a valuable painting: quality is key, as is the perfect fit, not just in terms of size, but also form and functionality.
What do rug pads actually do?
- Protect Rugs & Floors
- Prevent Slipping
- Add Cushion
- Facilitate Airflow
While rug pads may seem like an after-thought, they are absolutely essential for protecting both your floors and the rugs and carpets throughout your home.
When it comes to valuable Orientals, a high-quality rug pad is an absolute must. In addition to protecting floors from rough rug backings (which can be an issue with some antiques and certain types of Persian rugs, like Gabbehs, made from raw, uncut, and often rough natural materials) the best rug pad for hand woven rugs protects your rugs from damage caused by furniture and foot traffic by providing a layer of cushion and absorbing shock and weight, preventing wear and tear.
Non-slip pads also keep rugs from slipping, wrinkling, buckling and bunching, which can not only cause tripping hazards but literally tear, rip, and ruin rugs. By raising rugs off the floor (to varying degrees, depending on thickness) rug pads improve airflow around rugs, helping them breathe.
Finally, pads help keep your rugs in place to make vacuuming easier and less stressful on your rugs. Dirt is actually the #1 cause of rug degradation, so keeping your rugs clean is the best way to preserve their beauty and value.
What are the best materials to look for in a rug pad?
Authentic Oriental and Persian rugs are generally made of the highest-quality natural fibers, like wool and silk. The rug pads you choose should also be made of the best natural materials. Look for natural rubber and felt (often made from new, unused recycled rug fibers.)
This is very important. Many rug pads on the market today are made from cheap plastics, with synthetic adhesives and glues that can stick to and strip your floors and damage rugs and. Many also contain clay fillers that can disintegrate into a powdery mess that can not only fail to protect your rugs, but stain and permanently damage or totally ruin your rugs altogether.
This is not a chance you can take with expensive rugs. Though you may pay a bit more, you want to look for the highest quality rug pads you can find, made with 100% natural rubber and felt only and by heat pressing rather than with glues and synthetic adhesives.
If you love your rugs, your floors, and the planet, you’ll want pads made from the best quality, sustainable natural rubber and felt, preferably made in the USA according to the highest manufacturing standards.
- Imported rug pads with too many clay fillers deteriorate leaving a mess on the floor beneath.
- PVC pads made with additional adhesives stick to floors (and themselves).
What kind of rug do you have?
The key questions to ask with regard to rug pad choice have to with your rugs pile and size. If your rug is a flatweave, particularly a smaller size, you’ll be looking for more grip.
If it’s a thicker, heavier pile or a larger sized rug, grip will likely be less important and you may want more cushion. In general, rubber provides grip and felt offers cushion. Smaller and flatter rugs need more grip (rubber or a combination of rubber and felt) but felt-only pads can work very well for thicker pile, larger rugs.
Which pads work best?
For smaller rugs and runners, consider a traditional low-profile, waffle-style non-slip pad, like Super-Lock Natural, the heavy-weight champion, gold standard in this category, made with over 1lb of natural rubber per square yard.
Also in this category of classic, low-profile, non-slip pads, Nature’s Grip is a great eco-friendly choice, made from hand-woven organic jute fibers.
For flatweaves or medium-size and larger size pile rugs in high-traffic areas where you want the lowest-profile option (for example, where door clearance is an issue) consider RugPro, a thin but heavy-duty, high-performance pad that combines natural rubber and felt in the lowest possible profile. This pad’s solid design offers more floor coverage than traditional waffle-style non-slip pads, keeping dirt from accumulating and reaching your rug. RugPro is also needle-punched using very small holes to allow rugs to breathe by improving airflow.
For flatweaves of any size, rugs with rough backings, and small or medium size pile rugs under which you’d like a bit of cushion but need to keep a relatively low profile, there’s Contour-Lock. This 1/8 inch-thick felt and rubber pad offers a strong grip and moderate levels of cushioning without bulking and its thicker solid design not only helps keeps rugs clean, but fully protects floors from scratches. This pad offers a great overall value for reliable grip and subtle cushioning for a wide range of Oriental and Persian rugs.
For more cushion, particularly under larger rugs in living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms, there’s Superior-Lock, combining the best of both grip and cushion. Made with more felt and a gentle heat-pressing technique, Superior-Lock offers unyielding, non-slip traction with thick, cushioned support. It’s essentially a thick layer of felt combined with a thinner non-slip, natural rubber pad. The needle-punched felt surface naturally clings to the bottom of rugs giving your valuable and beloved Orientals and Persians a gentle ‘hug’ the while giving you extra softness and comfort under foot in two thicknesses, 1/4 inch and 7/16 inch.
For larger, thicker pile rugs under which you want more luxurious cushioning, consider Eco-Plush, a line of dense, eco-friendly felt pads that sustainably protect and extend the life of your finest rugs (though they are not recommended for flatweaves of any size since they don’t offer any grip.) Tightly woven of 100% recycled felt made from new, unused carpet fibers and yarn, these pads are heat-pressed so they won’t pack down over time, ensuring lasting loft and lift. Eco Plush pads are available in three thickness, depending on how much cushioning you want.