A rug pad is a sheet of material that serves as a buffer between your area rug and the floor.
The purpose of a rug pad is to protect both the rug and the floor. It also protects you by making the rug less slippery.
A rug pad holds the rug in place, softens the floor, makes cleaning easier, and dampens sounds.
Considering a rug pad for one or more of your area rugs?
Here’s our breakdown on the key things to know, including:
- What are rug pads used for?
- Different material options for rug pads, and which ones work best
- Alternatives to rug pads
- Grip pads vs. cushion pads
- How long do rug pads last?
What are rug pads used for?
Rug pads are used to provide a variety of benefits related to the protection of both rugs and floors, while optimizing the use of your rug.
A rug placed directly on the floor results in friction between the two surfaces, with dirt and debris getting trapped in between. This can cause staining and stripping of the flooring. Meanwhile, the rug slides around, making it unpleasant to walk on and tricky to clean.
Here’s how a rug pad helps you get the most out of your area rug:
- Facilitates airflow
- Prevents damage to the floor and the rug
- Holds the rug in place to reduce slipping and bunching
- Cushions the floor
A rug pad provides different essential benefits based on floor type. For example, tile floors are highly resilient to damage, but rugs tend to slip easily on these surfaces. So, felt or rubber rug pads are great for holding rugs in place on tile flooring.
Today, you’ll get familiar with various rug pad material options to find the best match for your floor type.
Types of rug pads by material
There are lots of different floor types:
Rugs make a lovely pairing with any floor type, especially when supported by a rug pad.
However, you need to select a pad that’s specially designed for your flooring. Some floors are slippery, while others are prone to stripping and staining. Sometimes the priority is grip, sometimes it’s all about softening the surface.
Let’s have a look at each material option and identify the floor types it's best suited for.
Natural rubber provides maximum grip, helping to hold in place even the most slippery rugs.
The material is sourced from real rubber trees, so it’s an all-natural and eco-friendly choice.
The material grips rather than sticks to your floor. It’s a great match for most floor finishes, except for certain vinyl finishes that aren’t meant to mix with rubber.
Natural rubber pads do not provide a great deal of cushioning, so consider a felt/rubber mix if you’re looking for both slip prevention and cushion support.
Best For Floor Type: Hardwood/laminate/stone/tile/radiant heat
Primary Functions: Non-slip/waterproof/soundproof/eco-friendly
Felt rug pads are dense, soft, and comfortable. The benefits of felt rug pads include soundproofing, rug longevity, and floor protection.
Felt protects your floors from damage caused by heavy furniture, as well as scratches and stripping caused by rugs. Scratchy rug types, such as jute, should always be paired with a felt rug pad.
You won’t get a great deal of grip from felt, so this material pairs best with a rug that doesn’t need too much help staying in place.
Best For Floor Type: Hardwood/bamboo/vinyl/stone/tile/radiant heat
Primary Functions: Cushion/soundproof
Felt and rubber mix
A felt and rubber mix combines the grip of rubber with the cushioning of felt. This combination helps hold your rug in place while softening the floor area.
Felt and rubber pads are great for a variety of floor types, including hardwood floors.
Best For Floor Type: Carpet/hardwood/bamboo/stone/tile/radiant heat
Primary Functions: Non-slip/cushion/waterproof/soundproof/eco-friendly
When the goal is dense, plush, cushioning — memory foam is your best bet. These rug pads can be made from viscoelastic polyurethane foam, select rebonded foam, or soybean oils and natural minerals.
Memory foam rug pads are designed for both cushioning and protection. However, they don’t prevent slipping. So, memory foam pads pair best with larger rugs that don’t require a non-slip pad.
Best For Floor Type: Hardwood/laminate/stone/tile/carpet/linoleum/radiant heat/bamboo/concrete/cork/vinyl
Primary Functions: Cushion/eco-friendly/soundproof
PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
Traditional PVC pads can be problematic, causing stripping and staining of your floor. However, our PVC pads are made from a high-performance soybean oil polymer blend.
This material is excellent at providing both grip and support. And it’s completely safe for your floor. Our PVC pads are manufactured in the USA, which is a rarity among PVC pads.
They’re engineered to be extra dense to resist compression. That means your rug will conform to your footsteps, creating a soft yet firm floor surface.
Best For Floor Type: Hardwood/laminate/vinyl
Primary Functions: Non-slip/cushion/eco-friendly
The best material for a rug pad
There’s no one rug pad material that’s better than the rest. It all depends on the floor, the rug, and your preferences.
For example, rubber is an excellent material for both protection and grip. However, it’s not a great match for vinyl plank floors, which are made using chemicals that can react poorly with rubber, resulting in stains.
The good news is, there’s at least one great materials option for any type of flooring. As long as you choose an appropriate material for your flooring and select a high-quality pad, you’ll be making a great investment for long-term benefits to your area rug and your floor.
What can you use instead of a rug pad?
Looking for the benefits of a rug pad… without purchasing a rug pad?
The simplest DIY route is to line the underside of the rug with double-sided tape. This will help hold the rug in place.
However, when you want to remove the tape or move the rug, you might have some problems with sticky residue. The tape can also strip material off of the rug or floor. It’s a huge disappointment to learn that your money-saving DIY trick actually ended up causing major damage.
Other options? You can line the underside of the rug with silicone caulk or use a shelf liner as a pad.
These methods will save a few bucks in the short-term and can provide some success at holding your rug in place. But, to protect both the floor and rug while providing all the benefits we’ve discussed above, a real rug pad is necessary.
The difference between grip and cushion rug pads
Pads that offer a lot of grip are most necessary in areas that receive a lot of foot traffic, like foyers and hallways. Rugs in these areas tend to be smaller and not anchored by furniture. So, they’re prone to slipping, sliding, and bunching up.
When rugs slide around and bunch up, they’re annoying to walk on and to clean. The vacuum just pushes the rug around, rather than sliding over it easily. And a slippery rug can also result in trips and falls.
So, for smaller and slippery rugs, you need a pad that offers excellent grip, such as a natural rubber pad.
Larger rugs suffer less from slipping. They’re heftier on their own, and they’re also more likely to have furniture anchoring them in place.
With that, you may want to use pads that provide more cushioning for larger rugs. That allows for the entire rug area to provide a soft area for walking or sitting on.
Looking for both grip and comfort? A rubber and felt mix is a great combo for providing a healthy dose of each.
How long do rug pads last?
All RugPadUSA rug pads are guaranteed to perform as represented for either ten or fifteen years, depending on the model.
During that time, we also guarantee that our rug pads won’t stain, mar, or discolor any surfaces if used in accordance with your flooring manufacturer’s instructions.
Of course, the rug pad itself is a small investment that helps preserve your bigger-ticket items: the rug and the floor.
With rug pads available for every floor type, there’s no reason not to get an affordable, high-quality rug pad underneath your rugs as soon as possible.