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Don’t roll out your new rug before you get this

A rug pad will protect both the rug and the floor.

A rug pad under a rug Credit: Getty Images / AndreyPopov

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You’ve just bought yourself a beautiful new area rug and it totally transforms the design of the room. You did your homework, selecting the ideal color, making sure the rug’s size complements the space, and choosing an attractive, durable fiber. But you’re not done yet—not until you roll out a pad for that rug.

Do I really need a rug pad?

Yes, you do. It’s not just about the plush feeling you get when you step on a rug with a good pad, though that’s a great sensation. There are many other reasons to buy your new rug a pad, including making it more secure, preserving the rug and the flooring, and making cleanup easier. Here are some of the benefits of using a rug pad.


A rug pad makes it safer to walk on the rug by creating a grippier surface between the rug and the floor. You’re less likely to trip and fall if the rug stays where it’s supposed to.

An area rug without a rug pad causes slipping
Credit: Getty Images / AndreyPopov

Using a pad underneath your rug can help prevent you from slipping or tripping.

Floor preservation

The pad keeps the backing of the rug from scuffing and scratching the floor underneath it. Padding also protects the floor from staining by absorbing dyes from the rug.

Furniture on a rug
Credit: Getty Images / Bulgac

A rug pad helps to ease the pressure that furniture legs put on a rug, reducing the crush on the pile.

Rug protection

When you place furniture on a rug and walk on it, the rug’s fibers get crushed. Placing a pad underneath the rug mitigates the pressure of your feet and the furniture.

Easier vacuuming

By placing a rug pad underneath to hold the rug in place, you make it safer and easier to vacuum, since the rug won’t slide around as you clean it.

Vacuuming an area rug
Credit: Getty Images / tzahiV

A rug pad stabilizes your rug, making it easier to vacuum.

Additional comfort

A thick layer of padding adds luxury by enhancing the sensory experience of walking on the rug. Extra cushioning can be especially necessary for families with little ones who play on the rug.

How do I choose the right rug pad?

Pottery Barn makes specific recommendations on the types of pad you should choose, depending on where and how you’ll use it.

Grip-only pads work best in places where a low profile is essential—for example if a rug needs to fit under a door. They also work well for outdoor rugs, since they don’t retain moisture.

A grip-only rug pad
Credit: Epica

Pads that grip only are useful where a lower profile is needed. They're easy to trim and especially good for outdoor use because they don't hold moisture.

Cushioned pads provide softness under living room and bedroom rugs. They can also mute sound.
A memory foam Cloud Comfort rug pad

A thicker rug pad is more comfortable to walk on. The Cloud Comfort memory foam rug pads come in 1/4-inch and 7/16-inch thicknesses.

Grip-plus-cushion pads offer the best of both worlds, preventing skidding while they add comfort.

A rug pad with a good grip makes a rug safer and more comfortable to walk on.

What type of pad do I need for hardwood floors?

According to RugpadUSA, pads made with plastic, glues, or adhesives can have an unpredictable reaction with the floor. Buy a rug pad made from materials like rubber and felt, which won’t harm the finish.

What size rug pad should I buy?

A rug pad should be an inch or so smaller than the pad. That makes sense because while the pad is essential, you want to keep it hidden. Also, the edge of the rug shouldn’t be elevated—it can become a trip hazard. If the rug is an unusual size or shape, buy a pad somewhat larger than you need, and trim it to the right dimension.

How do I install my rug pad?

  1. Once you trim the pad, place it on the floor in the exact spot where you’d like to place the rug. The Rug Edit suggests that you try anchoring the rug pad to the floor with double-sided tape if your pad doesn’t have a tacky side.
  2. Roll up the rug and position it at one end.
  3. Smooth the rug pad. Any rippling or bunching will show on the rug.
  4. Unroll the rug carefully, taking the time to trim back any parts of the pad that are still visible.

Always purchase the best pad you can afford. If that seems like a weird thing to say about something you never see, think of it this way: By laying down a rug pad, you’ve protected your rug, made it safer and more comfortable underfoot, and increased the chances that you’ll enjoy it for a long time.

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