Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best rug pads

Whether you want to enhance a room’s style or simply add a bit of carpeting to an area where there is none, a rug can be an important part of your home’s décor. However, when you find the perfect area rug or throw rug for your living space, don’t forget about the flooring beneath it. You’ll want to protect it while also adding security and comfort to the rug that will be on top of it. That’s where a rug pad comes in.

Think of wall-to-wall carpeting that’s installed with padding beneath it: the concept behind rug pads is similar. Some rug pads add thickness to cushion your steps and reduce the sound of shoes hitting the floor. Others are designed primarily to keep rugs in place. Some serve multiple purposes.

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Many rug pads come in a variety of sizes, so you are likely to find one that fits your room and rug perfectly.

Benefits of a rug pad

A rug pad aids in slip prevention. Most rug pads offer some degree of slip prevention. Grid-like patterns and slip-resistant materials and coatings aid in this. In turn, people who walk on the rug are less likely to slip and fall.

A rug pad protects your flooring. A rug pad can prevent dirt, spills, and debris from reaching your flooring. It can also shield the floor from nicks, scratches, and stains.

A rug pad enhances the life of your rug. Rugs pads add to the longevity of the rugs they support by preventing the bunching, folding, and curling that can damage a rug over time.

A rug pad makes the carpet more comfortable. Not all carpet pads are dense, but those that are designed to add cushioning have measurable thickness. This makes the rug softer to walk on by absorbing shock — perfect for family rooms, playrooms, and bedrooms.

A rug pad can reduce noise. If you’ve ever been annoyed by loud footfalls on a floor, you will appreciate how a rug pad muffles this sound. The material acts as soundproofing for footsteps and other noises.

Rug pad features


Rug pads come in a variety of materials, including cushiony foam and felt. The backing may be made of latex or rubber to prevent slippage. Be aware, however, that not all rug pads have this non-slip feature.

Rug pads made of polymers, PVC, and plant-based materials are typically thinner and are designed to prevent rugs from slipping out of place. However, they aren’t ideal if want to add thickness to your rug or sound protection to a room.


Rug pads designed to prevent slipping aren’t very thick; pads for this purpose are usually one-eighth of an inch thick or less. If you purchase a thicker pad, the depth may range from one-quarter of an inch to slightly under one-half of an inch.


There are rug pads as small as 2 x 3 feet and as large as 12 x 20 feet. Keep in mind that not all rug pads come in a range of size options. However, you could always trim a larger one to fit a smaller rug, or you could place several pads side by side under a longer, wider rug.


Rug pad materials are made with airflow in mind. This feature is effective at preventing moisture buildup between the pad and flooring. It also makes suctioning dirt and debris with a vacuum cleaner more effective.

Special features

As you shop for a rug pad, you will notice that some products include other special features that may or may not be important to you. For example, a hypoallergenic rug pad could be beneficial to someone with allergies. A rug pad with mildew and mold protection works well in a damp environment. And, for the environmentally conscious consumer, some rug pads are made of plant-based oils and materials.

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Did you know?
A rug pad that is one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch thick is perfect if you want to add just a little bit of cushioning to an area rug.

Rug pad prices

The price of a rug pad depends on the size and material you choose. Thin, non-slip rug pads fall on the lower end of the price scale. These can cost as little as $5 for a small rug pad (2 x 4 feet, for example) and $60+ for a larger rug pad (such as 12 x 18 feet).

Rug pads that are designed to add cushioning and are made of a material like felt cost more. Expect to pay $16 to $100 for a thinner option and a bit more for an extra-cushiony option with a  slip-resistant backing — likely somewhere between $24 and $184.


  • Have a durable pair of scissors on hand if you expect you will need to trim your rug pad before placing it under your rug.

  • Before trimming a rug pad, measuring it and mark it with a pen so you don’t cut off too much or too little material.

  • If you plan to use your rug pad in an area that is prone to moisture, choose one that’s made of materials that resist mold and mildew.

  • Thin, non-slip rug pads with grid-like patterns do a good job keeping rugs in place on floors that have smooth, shiny finishes, such as laminate, hardwood, and some types of ceramic tiles.

  • If you have an area rug that is larger than the measurements of a rug pad you are considering, you could solve the problem by purchasing more than one rug pad and trimming it down for a precise fit.
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Expert Tip
Don’t overlook a rug pad that you like just because it’s larger than you need. Most rug pads can be easily pared down with basic household scissors.
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Apartment dwellers — particularly those who don’t live on the ground floor — often appreciate the soundproofing that a good rug pad provides.


Q. What is the best type of rug pad material if sound insulation is my primary concern?
Rug pads block or dull noise by absorbing the impact of footsteps and other sounds. Felt is a good material for this purpose, as it has soft, dense fibers that absorb shock. Felt rug pads come in various thicknesses, so if you find a felt product you like, you may be able to choose the depth that would work best for your space.

Q. How can I keep my rug pad clean?
First, follow the instructions of the rug pad you purchase. Some models, especially the thinner, non-slip varieties that are made of polymer materials, can be washed by hand or in a washing machine. Large, dense rug pads can be vacuumed with a hand or stick vac that doesn’t produce strong suction that could damage it. When it comes to spills and stains, rug pads can be wiped with a wet cloth and patted dry with a towel.

Q. Can I use a rug pad under a rug that is near a door?
The short answer is yes, but you will need to measure the clearance below the door to be sure there is enough room for both. If not, the rug and pad would likely bunch up every time the door moves. In such case, a thinner rug pad would be a better option.

Q. What’s the best types of rug pad for a small area rug?
Small rugs tend to slip more than those that are larger and wider. That’s why thin, slip-resistant rug pads made of polymer or eco-friendly materials are great to put under small rugs — especially those found in bathrooms and kitchens where slips and falls often occur.

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