Area rugs add warmth to rooms, but without a rug pad to secure them, they can damage your floors or cause an injury. The best rug pads keep your area rugs from sliding and bunching and make your home safer. Depending on the material, rug pads can also add cushioning or even soundproofing. Ultimately, the best rug pad for your home ensures that both your floors and your rug are protected from excess wear and tear.
- BEST OVERALL: Gorilla Grip Original Gripper Area Rug Pad
- RUNNER UP: Mohawk Home Dual Surface Non Slip Rug Pad
- ECO PICK: RUGPADUSA Nature’s Grip Eco-Friendly Non-Slip Rug Pad
- BEST WATERPROOFING: Carpenter Spillguard DuPont Barrier Rug Pad
- BEST FOR OUTDOOR USE: iPrimio Non Slip Area Rug Pad
Types of Rug Pads
Rug pads come in a variety of materials. While the differences may seem subtle, they can have a major impact on performance. The best rug pad for you will depend on the style of rug and the purpose you want the rug pad to serve. Read on to find out whether memory felt, rubber, memory foam, or latex is your best bet.
Felt rug pads come in a range of thicknesses and densities. They provide cushioning and sound insulation and naturally grip your rug. Used alone, felt rug pads don’t grip to the floor very well. You can combine felt with a bottom layer of rubber to secure the rug. Pads made exclusively from felt work well under rugs made of heavy materials or when furniture is anchoring the rug in place. Felt rug pads don’t hold up well against water, so they’re not the best rug pads for outdoors, kitchens or bathrooms.
Rubber rug pads are derived from rubber tree sap. They’re an eco-friendly, healthier alternative to PVC. (Read about PVC below.) They can be quite thin, so alone, they provide minimal cushioning. They work well with thin rugs or in rooms with low clearance of doorways because they don’t add significant height to your rug. Rubber is ideal for outdoors and in areas that tend to get wet like kitchens and bathrooms. Look for rug pads in 100% natural rubber. Additional filler ingredients like sand or clay can compromise quality, and synthetic rubber can damage certain types of floors.
Memory foam, the same material used in mattresses and pillows, can make for a luxurious rug pad. The extra cushioning that memory foam provides makes it an excellent choice for children’s rooms and playrooms. However, rug pads made exclusively from memory foam don’t provide adequate grip, therefore, a layer of natural rubber will help keep everything in place. Together, they’re a perfect pairing for larger rugs.
PVC rug pads are an inexpensive option with some down-sides. Rugs made from PVC (or polyvinyl chloride) often contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which emit chemicals into the air. Not only is that a potential risk to your family and pets, but PVC can also stain, discolor or otherwise damage hardwood, laminate and vinyl floors. PVC pads are less of a problem under outdoor rugs.
Most budget rug pads contain latex, an inexpensive alternative to rubber. They are cheaper because they include filler ingredients like clay, which can leave a slight residue on your floors with long-term use. They stand up well to water, so they’re a smart choice for outdoors, kitchen and bathroom.
Some rug pads use a combination of materials to provide a variety of benefits. Dual-layered felt/rubber hybrids are among the best rug pads on the market. They provide the cushion of felt with the grip of rubber. Typically, the top layer is made from felt, which naturally grips the material of the rug, while the bottom layer is made from rubber to grip the floor.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rug Pad
Before you choose the best rug pad for your home, consider these key factors. Though you might assume that all rug pads work the same way, several characteristics can affect their functionality. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important qualities to keep in mind when shopping for the best rug pads for your home.
Shoppers generally want a rug pad to serve one or both of two purposes.
- Cushioning. Rug pads make your space more comfortable by providing extra support and cushion under your rug. Materials like felt and memory foam are ideal for cushioning your rug. Cushioned rug pads are typically used indoors.
- Safety. Non-slip rug pads keep your rug in place. They are typically made from natural rubber, latex, and PVC. They are best for lightweight rugs in high traffic areas and for use outdoors.
Some rug pads do double-duty. They’ll keep your rug in place with a layer of rubber or latex and cushion your steps with added padding.
Many high-quality rugs are well-cushioned on their own. But, thinner, less expensive rugs can usually benefit from a cushioned pad. Cushioned rug pads provide comfort and a little sound insulation. Felt and memory foam do a good job in the cushioning department. Rubber, latex, and PVC will prevent slipping, but they won’t provide significant cushioning.
Rug pads generally range from 1/16- to 1/2-inch thick. Rugs of a medium thickness pair well with thick rug pads that add cushioning, hold them in place, and provide additional soundproofing.
If your rug is already on the thicker side, you will likely only need a low-profile, non-stick rug pad to prevent slipping and protect both your rug and your floors. But, a thick rug pad under a heavy rug can create a truly luxurious feel. Thinner rug pads work well with small rugs and runners that just need to stay in place.
Rugs that curl or bunch up at the edges increase the risk of falls. High-grip area rug pads are essential under these rugs. Non-slip pads are especially useful in high-traffic areas to prevent your rug from sliding out of place. They’re also useful in rooms where your rug is not held into place by heavy furniture. Non-slip rug pads are typically made from natural rubber, latex, or PVC. These materials help your rug adhere to the floor.
The rug pad you purchase should be approximately 1 to 2 inches smaller than your rug on each side to ensure the pad isn’t visible and that the edges of the rug aren’t raised. Most rug pads on the market are the same size as standard rugs. You can easily cut them down to achieve the perfect fit.
When shopping for a rug pad, some may consider whether the product is made from eco-friendly materials. Luckily, some of the best rugs pads are made from natural materials like rubber and recycled felt which are sustainable and don’t contain chemicals that are potentially harmful to you or your family. PVC, on the other hand, isn’t recommended for indoor use because it can emit VOCs that could have adverse effects on both human health and the environment.
- Soundproofing is an added benefit of many cushioned rug pads. Both felt and memory foam pads can provide sound insulation.
- Some rug pads are waterproof and prevent spills from seeping through to your floors.
- Most rug pads require little maintenance, but felt and memory foam pads should be vacuumed annually. If spills occur on felt rug pads, it’s best to blot them to prevent moisture retention.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about rug pads, it’s time to start shopping. The following top picks consider the features described above, including material, cushioning, grip, and thickness. This list offers a variety of choices for a top-notch rug pad that suits your needs and budget.
The most versatile rug pads feature a layer of felt and a layer of rubber, like this one by Gorilla Grip. The dense, needle-punched felt provides cushioning and some sound insulation. It’s made from 100 percent recycled material, is naturally hypoallergenic, and mold- and mildew-resistant. The textured rubber on the bottom helps keep the rug in place without damaging the floors.
- Multiple thicknesses available
- Made from recycled materials
- Mold and mildew resistant
- May not grip to all types of rug
This dense felt and rubber combo offers many of the features of higher-end rug pads at a lower price point. The 100 percent recycled felt cushions your steps and the rubber bottom provides an excellent grip. At 1/4-inch thick, the medium thickness is suitable for most types of rugs.
- Great for most rug types
- Protects floors from scratchy rugs
- Adds a luxurious thickness
- Quite difficult to cut due to thickness
The majority of non-slip rug pads on the market use PVC, which can damage some floors. But not these rug pads. These are made from 100 percent natural rubber and organic jute—breathable materials that help ward off moisture and mold. At 1/16 of an inch, this pad is a great choice for small rugs and runners that don’t need added padding.
- Available in both rectangular and round
- Made from natural rubber and jute
- Ideal for small rugs and runners
- May have a strong odor at first
Made with visco-elastic memory foam, this rug pad uses Spillguard Moisture Barrier technology to protect your floor from water damage. This protective layer prevents spilled drinks and other liquids from penetrating the memory foam. Therefore, you can easily blot spills from your rug’s surface and not worry about the other side. The 1/2-inch thick pad cushions while it protects, too. The Carpenter pad is made of recyclable materials, but keep in mind that it does not have a non-slip backing, so it’s most suitable for heavy rugs that stay put.
- Protects floor from water damage
- Works with heavy rugs
- Very thick for added cushioning
The lightly cushioned surface of this non-slip rug pad is made of breathable PVC foam. It can stand up to harsh weather without trapping moisture from rainwater under your rug.
- Easy to cut
- Weather resistant
- Limited sizes available
- No added thickness
For shoppers looking for a reliable way to keep their rugs in place, consider the Gorilla Grip Original Gripper Area Rug Pad and add extra thickness and cushioning under your feet.
How We Chose the Best Rug Pads
When curating our list of recommended rug pads, we looked at the various purposes they serve. Some shoppers like the extra cushioning under their rugs for a more luxurious feel, and others want the safety they provide to keep rugs from slipping around the floor when they are walked on. Our top picks provide options to satisfy these needs, and several of our recommendations offer both functions in a single rug pad.
In addition to thickness and safety, we also researched gripping capability and found the top contenders in the market in terms of their ability to keep a rug in place and prevent sliding. We also made sure to include several picks that are environmentally friendly and made from 100 percent recycled materials, and we looked at additional features such as soundproofing and waterproofing to provide added protection to hardwood floors.
The Advantages of Owning a Rug Pad
You should pair every area rug in your home with a rug pad to protect your floors from wear and tear. Many types of rugs can wreak havoc when placed directly on the floor. Rug pads keep rugs in place, so that the corners and edges don’t curl up. They also prevent sliding and bunching, which makes your space safer.
Rug pads can:
- Protect your rugs.
- Protect your floors.
- Provide added cushioning.
- Increase soundproofing.
- Prevent slips and falls.
- Make vacuuming easier.
If you still have questions about how to choose the best rug pad for your home, the following frequently asked questions may help.
Q. Can you use a carpet pad for area rugs?
Padding meant for wall-to-wall carpeting is generally incompatible with area rugs and is not recommended. Carpet pads are meant to be attached to carpeting while rug pads adhere on their own.
Q. How do you measure a rug for a rug pad?
The rug pad you purchase should be 1 to 2 inches smaller than your rug on each side. For example, a 5-foot by 7-foot rug requires a rug pad that is approximately 4’10″ by 6’10”. Most rug pads come in standard rug sizes that you can trim down to fit your rug.
Q. Which side of a rug pad goes down?
If a rug pad has a sticky layer made from rubber, latex, or PVC, that side should be placed down touching the floor.
Q. How do you cut a rug pad?
You can cut most rug pads with sharp scissors.