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Flooring and Carpeting/rubber padding under wall to wall carpet

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Question
I live in Nashville and love opening my windows for fresh cool air in the Spring and early Fall.  Eventually, I will be replacing the carpet and padding in this 10+ yr old house.  I have heard a rubber padding is best in regard to insulation.  I imagine a rubberized padding would not absorb the humidity which causes the buckling I have in my carpets (at least that is my understanding).  What do you know about rubber padding and where is it available for purchase?  Another reason I am interested in rubber padding is due to the fact the present padding in high traffic areas of wall to wall did not hold up well and looks depressed compared to areas of less traffic.  The padding has clearly lost its' ability to spring back.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Answer
Jayne, you have several issues that should be addressed.  

First, the root cause of the buckling (wrinkling) is not the humidity per se, but the fact that the carpet was not properly stretched when installed.  Carpet must be stretched, that means stretched, not just pulled out until its flat.  This translates to 1 - 1 1/2 % in length and width - that is after it is flat!  Too frequently, installers us a tool called a knee kicker which is supposed to be used only for positioning the carpet and in tight spaces such as closets and stairs.  It is about 24" in length, with a 4" square head with 16 pins on one end that penetrate the carpet on one end, and a pad on the other end that is struck with the knee.  It is physically impossible to stretch the carpet the required amount with this tool.  Proper stretching requires the use of a power stretcher, which has a head about 18" wide with about 40 pins.  This is attached to an adjustable metal pole which spans the room and terminates on the other end with a plate that fits against the baseboard. A lever allows the installer to apply up to 750 pounds of force to the carpet, easily stretching the needed amount.  Naturally, this tool requires more time and effort.  Make sure this is used when you replace.

Carpet that is not adequately stretched will wrinkle during humid periods.


You will find little rubber pad on today's market, and it will be expensive.  It does not perform any better than a good polyurethane cushion, which I suggest.  There are poly pads and there are poly pads - there can be huge differences between pads that look alike. Minimum specs should be 6-8 pound density, and a thinner pad is better, despite what instinct tells us.  There are some really good pads in the 10-12 pound density range that not only will last a lifetime but will feel better underfoot. Try placing th epad sample on a hard floor, the chosen carpet over it and sink your heel into it - you will immediately feel the differences.  

Your pad is likely a polyurethane cushion with low density and a low property called compression set, meaning that after repeated compressions from foot traffic, it "sets" in the compressed state. Don't give up on poly pads - beware if it is "free" with the carpet !


I know this is more that you wanted to read, but it will remain on the site for reference by others.

Hope this helps, CM  

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Carey Mitchell

Expertise

Any question regarding carpet, including specifications, maintenance, installation, regulation.

Experience

Retired after 44 years in carpet manufacture, technical and research. Served 33 years as Director of Technical Services for the world's largest carpet manufacturer.

Organizations
The Carpet and Rug Institute, Technical Chair - 12 years; American Society for Testing and Materials (40 years); American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (39 years); Society of Cleaning and Restoration (Board of Directors); US National Textile Research Consortium; Cleaning Industry Research Institute (Board of Directors and founder); Canadian General Standards Board Technical Advisory Committee; The Fiber Society; Alzheimer's Association of NW GA (Board of Directors); Trout Unlimited; Federation of Fly Fishermen

Publications
AATCC Review (Textile Chemist and Colorist Journal); Journal of the American Industrial Hygiene Association; International Journal of Flooring Sciences Cleaning Digest; Cleanfax Magazine; Floor Covering Weekly; Floor Covering News; Proceedings of the Technical Conference of the Polyurethane Association; Proceedings of the Symposium on the Science of Cleaning;

Education/Credentials
BS in Chemistry and Business Administration, University of North Georgia

Awards and Honors
Carpet and Rug Institute, Smrekar Award, 1998; Carpet Industry Leadership Award, 1994; Cleanfax Magazine Person of the Year, 1996; Cleaning Digest, person of the year, 1997; Institute of Inspections,Cleaning and Restoration Certifications award,1997; ISCT Lipscomb Award, 2004

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