Carpet cushion does more than just help your new carpet (or rug) feel good when you walk on it. Cushion has many important jobs, and your selection of the right carpet cushion should not be an afterthought. The subject has been written about extensively, but the main points bear repeating. Quality carpet cushion…

  • Helps your carpet look better longer
  • Makes your carpet feel better underfoot
  • Adds to the useful life of your carpet
  • Protects your carpet investment
  • Makes a less expensive carpet feel more luxurious
  • A dd's acoustical properties by absorbing sound
  • Makes cleaning and maintenance more efficient

Quality cushion with the performance benefits you want or need for your home can be of a variety of different constructions, including popular ones you may have heard of or explored such as bonded polyurethane, reinforced rubber, synthetic latex rubber, sponge rubber or synthetic felt.

As you shop for carpet, shop for the kind of cushion that meets your needs, including the latest generation which is driven by technologies that make your life better and easier, as well as protecting that design investment. Ask about cushion brands that feature technologies and know-how which include barriers that isolate spills and keep them from seeping to the subfloor.

Cushion also makes it easier to clean and maintain your carpet. Investigate better brands like Omafirm and Healthier Choice which are treated to eliminate beverage spills and “accidents” caused by kids and pets. 
Are you “green conscious?” Most better-brand carpet cushions are Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label-approved, having been tested for low off-gassing of volatile organic compounds. Many products are recyclable and/or recycled, for example, those containing recycled tire crumb. 

Our best advice is to always choose a quality cushion and, for that new carpet or rug, to beware of offers of “free” cushion. Wherever possible, opt for a better cushion; only a few more dollars adds up to a lot more value in both the short and long runs. It’s your investment in wear-ability and durability. Also, never, never, never install a new carpet over an old cushion or over the old carpet and cushion. It will shorten the life of your carpet. If your old carpet has had it, so has the cushion. Finally, select the highest quality cushion and ask about performance characteristics and extended warranties.

Urethane Foam 

Generally speaking, foam cushion comes in three recognized, clearly different varieties:

Prime polyurethane foam is a firmer version of the same cushioning used in upholstered furniture, mattresses, and automobile seats. Two liquid ingredients are combined to form a large mass of foam, which is then sliced into sheets for use as carpet cushion.

Bonded polyurethane foam (sometimes called rebond) is quite unique. You cannot mistake it when you see it, because it is formed by combining chopped and shredded pieces of foam, in different sizes and usually different colors, into one solid piece. It frequently has a surface net for ease of installation and improved performance. 
Bonded foam is one of the most amazing recycling projects of all time. Nearly all the scrap foam in the U.S., and some from other countries as well, is utilized to make bonded cushion. This recycles waste, which would otherwise be thrown out, and it eases the strain on our landfills. Moreover, bonded foam is itself recyclable.

Froth polyurethane foam is made with carpet backing machinery. Liquid ingredients are applied, either directly to the backs of some carpet styles, or to a non-woven material (for making separate cushion). They react and form a thin, dense foam which is particularly useful in commercial applications with wide expanses of carpet.


Rubber cushion manufacturing processes can be varied to produce different levels of density and firmness. The usual measurement is the weight in ounces per square yard. 

Waffled rubber cushion is made by molding natural or synthetic rubber. Heat cures the rubber and forms a waffle pattern. This variety produces a soft, resilient cushion whose luxurious feel is particularly useful for residences. 

Flat sponge rubber is a firm, dense cushion, which has a flat surface and is normally used in large-scale commercial applications and with loop type (or Berber) carpet. 

Reinforced Rubber Carpet Cushions are manufactured with an open cellular structure made from ground tire scrap rubber granules bonded with latex.


Foam and rubber cushions are produced from new and recycled materials. Fiber cushion, on the other hand, uses existing fibers (both virgin and recycled, and either natural or man-made fibers), which are interlocked into a useful sheet of felt. There are two distinct varieties of fiber cushion:

Natural fibers
 include felt, animal hair, and jute (the material used to make some kinds of rope and heavy burlap bags). This is one of the oldest types of carpet cushion, dating back to the earliest days of machine-made carpet.

Synthetic fibers include nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and acrylics, which are needle-punched into relatively dense cushions which have a firm feel and, as with other types of cushion, can be made in virtually any weight, to stand up under light, medium, or heavy traffic, which is how they are usually classified.

Berber Carpet is becoming increasingly popular, and needs a thin, firm cushion. When using this type of carpet, be sure that the accompanying cushion has been specified by the manufacturer as suitable for Berber carpet.
Radiant heating is becoming more widely used in certain sections of the country. In the case of radiant heating, you do not want a cushion that is an exceptionally effective insulator, but one that allows the heat from the subflooring to penetrate the carpet system and heat the room. A relatively thin, flat cellular sponge rubber or synthetic fiber cushion works well under these circumstances.