Do you need a pad? Not necessarily. Maybe. Probably not.
It is not uncommon for oriental rug dealers to aggressively sell rug padding, and customers often assume or are led to believe that a pad will be necessary for a fine oriental carpet. This is not necessarily, and not often true. For example, hand-knotted oriental rugs and hardwood floors get along quite nicely. Both are natural products, and in the absence of mitigating circumstances, nothing further should be needed. Rugs do not need to “breathe”—a common, but irrelevant trope that essentially means nothing—with the exception of placement on cement slabs that may be prone to moisture.
There are a few situations in which a pad might be recommended, however. You may need a pad for your rug in one of the following circumstances:
- Hard Surfaces: If the rug is to reside over an uneven surface, such as a tile floor, or over hardwood with sharp edges, a pad will be beneficial.
- Soft Surfaces: It is not uncommon to place one rug over another, especially in living spaces with wall-to-wall carpeting. Oriental rugs need solid, even support beneath them to mitigate the possibility of stretching and weakening the foundation of the rug. Certain types of rug pads can serve this purpose.
- Safety: If the rug is prone to slippage because of it's smaller size, or the volume of foot traffic, or both, you may benefit from a pad with a non-skid quality. This is more common with smaller rugs or those with a limp construction. Room-sized rugs (8x10, 9x12) are inherently heavy, and are often secured by furniture. As a result, the likelihood of safety issues borne of unexpected movement is minimal. Small rugs, such as threshold mats in high-traffic areas, will almost always benefit from a pad.
- Preference: Oriental rugs are woven in a variety of thicknesses, from flatweaves, which are pileless and therefore quite thin, to dense, heavy, thick rugs such as those made by the Bidjar tribes of northwestern Iran. It is sometimes preferable to use a pad to add thickness and support to thinner varieties of oriental rugs. This is strictly a matter of personal preference, and is not required for the health and longevity of the rug itself.
- Machine-made Rugs: Some types of machine-made rugs are extremely stiff, with rough backs that can damage hardwood flooring surfaces over time. Pad usage can mitigate or eliminate any finish damage to hardwood flooring that such rugs can cause. This is never the case with a hand-knotted rug.
What type of pad should you use?
Pads come in a variety of thicknesses and qualities, and it is important to select the right pad for your rug and the conditions in which it will be used. Oriental Rug Mart offers three different pads for three different circumstances:
- Double-Grip: A very thin black pad which provides excellent slip resistance, but adds no thickness to the rug. This is ideal for small pile rugs in high-traffic areas, and at door thresholds where the height of the rug can reduce the clearance with the bottom of the door.
- Mega-Stop: A thicker grey pad which provides both excellent slip resistance and additional thickness. This is ideal for thinner rugs that benefit from some added heft, such as finely-woven Turkish rugs or flatweaves.
- No Muv: An extremely rigid, thick pad which is used exclusively for rug-on-rug installations.
Double-Grip and Mega-Stop above are more or less interchangeable; this is a matter of circumstance and personal preference. No Muv, by contrast, is a specific pad for a specific use.
Oriental Rug Mart does not recommend rubber mesh pads, which we see frequently. They are prone to wrinkling, they tend to stick to floors and disintegrate after extended usage, and their initial slip resistance is inferior to these other options.
Remember that all pads of any type have a limited life span—usually from five to ten years. If used, they should be replaced at regular intervals as needed.
If you have any questions about rug padding— yes or no, yours or ours—give us a call, and we’ll do our best to clarify the options and help you to make an informed choice.