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Old 02-12-2009, 10:26 AM   #1
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Carpet Underpad


For basement carpetting and stairs what is a good underpad type and how much does it cost? I got quotes from thirty-five cents to $1.10 per sq. foot. Those are Canadian prices so they are probably five to ten cents lower in the U.S.

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Old 02-12-2009, 11:08 AM   #2
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Carpet Underpad


Jerry:

You get the most bang for the buck with the 6 to 8 pound foam chip pads, which is why they're so popular. That "6 to 8 pounds" means that the underpad weighs 6 to 8 pounds per cubic foot.

Some carpet stores will advertise "free pad with installation", and they'll give you a 3 to 4 pound foam chip pad. The firmer the underpad, the more energy from each foot fall it absorbs, and the longer the carpet itself lasts, but you'll never double the life of the carpet by doubling the firmness of the pad. Basically, it's a case of diminishing returns, the firmer the pad the smaller the incremental gain.

The $9 per square yard pads will often be "pet pads". These are pads which are made of foam that is blown with less blowing gas so that the bubbles inside the foam are not interconnected. The result is a firmer and much less permeable pad that will prevent pet "accidents" from penetrating down into the wood underlayment under the pad.

In my building, I use an underpad called SP380, which is 38 pounds per cubic foot. It's a commercial underpad meant for high traffic applications, and I find that once I install it in an apartment, I never have to replace it when I replace a carpet. It easily outlasts the carpets in my apartments.

There's certainly nothing wrong with buying a commercial underpad, but in a house you really don't need it. To get the maximum life out of a carpet in a residential setting, you're better off putting the incremental cost of a better underpad toward buying a better vaccuum cleaner. It's the hard solid soil particles (like sand) in the carpet pile that tends to wear out the carpet faster than anything else.

Also, not all carpets are born equal. Spend a bit more and get a "solution dyed commercial level loop nylon carpet". Nylon is the strongest fiber used to make carpet from, so nylon carpets are the longest wearing carpets, especially if the pile has a naturally resilient shape like a level loop pile. Also, "solution dyed" means that the colour of the carpet comes from tiny coloured particles (called "pigments") that are added to the hot liquid nylon before drawing it into a fiber. Because these coloured particles are encased in clear nylon plastic, you can use bleach straight out of the jug on the carpet to remove otherwise impossible stains without fear of harming the carpet.

Maybe just get one of those car floor mat samples of solution dyed nylon carpet and torture it with bleach to check. Lots of people will tell you NOT to use bleach on any carpet, but I've done it in my building for years and as long as the carpet is SOLUTION DYED nylon or polypropylene, it won't do the carpet any harm.

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Old 02-12-2009, 11:13 AM   #3
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Carpet Underpad


thank you Nestor. The carpet company says the chip foam underlay he charges thirty-five cents per sq. foot is 8 lbs. I take it you are saying go with that. Is that price reasonable or too low for 8 lbs?

Jerry
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:21 PM   #4
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Carpet Underpad


The reason why foam chip underpad is so popular is because it provides good support to the carpet at a very affordable price.

That works out to $3.15 per square yard for 8 pound foam chip pad, and that's about what I'd expect to pay for that stuff. I haven't bought foam chip pad for at least 10 years now, but that price seems about right to me. Maybe phone up some other carpet retailers and see what they sell it for.

The heavier weight of foam chip pad (6 to 8 pound) is what most (I'm guessing 75%) people buying carpeting for their own homes would go with, and unless you have special needs for a "pet pad" or other requirements, that's about the smartest buy. I buy SP380 only because I know once I put it down I'll be able to replace carpets from then on without replacing it. Since I do the work, and this stuff is all tax deductible to me, I prefer the SP380.

I buy SP380 for about $6 per square yard, so the 8 pound foam chip pad shouldn't be anywhere near that price. (and it isn't)

I'd buy it for $3.15/sq yd.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:45 PM   #5
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Jerry,

Since it's for your basement you might want to consider a high quality pad that unlike any other padding insulates? It's made especially for damp areas and is rated at 4.5 R. Normally carpet and pad adds very little insulating to your floor.

It is also.....

100% Recyclable
100% Waterproof
No Chlorofluocarbons (CFC's)
4.5 R factor for premium insulation
100% Non Alergenic
3/8" thick (54 W x 60'L)
0.25 FSI-Class A fire rated
15 lb. Density Feel

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Old 02-13-2009, 01:57 PM   #6
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Would you mind providing a link to that "insulating underpad"? It just doesn't smell right to me.

Here's why:

Whenever you're dealing with a blown foam product, including polystyrene insulating foam panels, it's easy to make false claims about R values. The reason why is that often the blowing gas has a much higher insulating value than air. What happens in service is that as the blowing gas in the foam escapes and is replaced by air, the R value of the foam decreases. This phenomenon is known as "thermal drift" and it's the reason why reputable insulation manufacturers will always quote the "stabilized R-value" of their products.

Typically, the stabilized R value of extruded polystyrene foam will be about R5 per inch. But, if you were to measure the R value of that foam when it's first manufactured, you could get an R value of R8 per inch or more. A 30 to 50 percent difference between the R values when foam is first manufactured and it's "stabilized R value" is not uncommon.

Also, an infra red radiant barrier or reflective film on the insulating foam will effectively add another R1 to R2 to the insulation by preventing radiant heat loss.

So, I'm skeptical that this (presumably 1/2 inch thick) foam underpad can provide the same insulation as a 1 inch thick panel of styrofoam.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:37 PM   #7
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I don't have and can't find any tests to prove their claims. I just know of people that have used it and a handyman radio show that talks about it all the time. It has been sold locally and shipped across the country for many years. It is made in Mexico and a local distributor has the deal for the entire USA.

They claim the 4.5 R, I suppose because it is very dense? It is also waterproof, doesn't absorb water.

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Old 02-13-2009, 07:55 PM   #8
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jerryman -

Go with the 8lb rebond pad. That's a good one for the basement.

Most slabs, especially those below grade, sweat moisture. The concrete can look and feel dry but it is just evaporating off from a little below the surface.

Moisture can continue to evaporate off through rebond pad and carpet.

As soon as you put a moisture barrier, like the pad Jazzman was mentioning, on that slab, moisture will start to build up underneath it and it has to go somewhere.

I've seen it migrate out to the wall-line and get mold and mildew going on the perimeter.
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:46 PM   #9
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Moisture barrier....who said the pad I was talking about creates a moisture barrier? It is indicated for cool areas and insulates. But, no pad or carpet should be used if there's a likelihood of excessive dampness or water infiltration.

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Old 02-13-2009, 10:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JazMan View Post
I don't have and can't find any tests to prove their claims. I just know of people that have used it and a handyman radio show that talks about it all the time. It has been sold locally and shipped across the country for many years. It is made in Mexico and a local distributor has the deal for the entire USA.

They claim the 4.5 R, I suppose because it is very dense? It is also waterproof, doesn't absorb water.

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Old 02-14-2009, 01:32 PM   #11
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Au contraire Jazman,

Carpet and pad are great for below grade. Moisture is present in just about all concrete slabs. Now, I'm not suggesting that one put carpet and pad on a slab that looks and feels damp... that's a different issue entirely.

The slab can look and feel dry but the moisture is just evaporating off below the surface of the slab. Carpet and pad can sit on that and the moisture will evaporate off right through them.

Remember when the old Pergo installation procedures for DIYers said to put a 2x2 square of plastic sheeting on the slab and tape it around the perimeter and wait a couple days to see if the concrete turns dark or moisture beads up?

That would have presumably been after the carpet and pad were taken out... You ever seen any writing on the back of a carpet sample that says to moisture test the slab before installing carpet?

Moisture levels on a dry-looking concrete slab that would quickly trash a wood or laminate floor won't do squat to carpet.

Also, I assumed moisture barrier on the pad you cited because of the "100% waterproof" bit.

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Old 02-14-2009, 09:03 PM   #12
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Holy cow! Who said carpet isn't any good for below grade installations? Not me.

Also waterproof does not mean it's a barrier. It just means it won't absorb moisture and won't be damaged by it. It can still have holes in it to allow evaporation.

Jaz

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