Most Decent Area Rugs do not need a Rug Pad…
If my above statement is true, then why are so many dealers telling us that we need one under our area rug? It’s called up-sale or cross-sell but most of the time it is merely a way to add to the original sale. I do not wish to offend, but many hapless sales-people truly think that an area rug will last longer with a rug pad under it. This is only true in a very small number of cases. If you have a good quality hand-woven rug that is very light and thin (almost like a tapestry), and has a tendency to wrinkle and bunch (becoming a trip hazard), then you would want to consider an all-felt rug pad in order to make it behave (some rugs can really be a beast). Or if you have a very rough surface that you are covering with your rug that may cause wear points, then you might need a pad or cushion. Cut the pad 1 inch smaller than your rug. Otherwise, most other types of rug pads (or cushions) are useless and tend to do more harm than good. Most rug pads are man-made materials and the use of these rug pads on many types of hard-surface flooring (vinyl, linoleum, hard-wood and some ceramics and stones) will usually cause some type of damage. Lately I have been getting a lot of questions on how to remove yellowing from vinyl or how to remove a rug pad that has bonded to a hard-wood floor. I have posted answers for this problem on my web site, but the best cure for these types of problems is to never use any rug pad except all-felt, and never buy cheap polypropylene or olefin rugs, and never ever use a rug that has a solid latex or rubber backing.
According to recent news concerning area rugs, the market has shifted from the better quality wool and nylon rugs to inferior poly or poly-blend rugs. This is a sad situation as far as I am concerned, and I am noticing a lot more rug problems associated with the inferior quality rugs. With the high emphasis on the environment, I am somewhat baffled by the trend toward inferior rugs as they will wear out more quickly and end up in a landfill within a few years or months. Even the big brand-name manufacturers are selling these inferior products. Why? Because people are buying them without realizing that they are so cheaply made. It is my experience, that if you shop around a little, you can find good quality wool or nylon rugs for close to the same price as an inferior man-made fiber rug. You usually get what you pay for. If you pay a little more for a rug now, you will be happy with it for many years.
I only use good quality wool or nylon rugs in my home, and that is always what I suggest to my clients. With a decent rug that has some substance to it, you will hardly ever find the need for a rug pad. None of my rugs have a pad under them and they all behave nicely, they do not wrinkle, crush or curl at the edges. If you must use a rug pad in your home, the safest type is an all-felt pad (without any plastic barrier) and make certain it is as dense as possible. People like their cushions and pads to be soft under foot, but a soft cushion allows too much up and down movement of the rug and this will break down the backing over time. The firmer the surface is that your area rug covers, the longer it will last and the better it will behave.
It is my experience that a decent rug with substance (has some weight to it) will tend to lay flat where you place it and will not move around or travel across the floor as much as an thin inexpensive (cheap) rug. If you place a rug over wall-to-wall carpet (especially cut-pile) it may travel a little more (always in the direction that the nap lays on the carpet), but this is a minor problem to deal with compared to the alternatives.
If you have questions about area rugs or flooring problems you can post them on the forum, this blog, or just email me and I will respond within a day or two at the most.