Ultimate Guide to Rug Pads and How to Choose the Right Size

When you buy a rug, what goes underneath is ALMOST as important as the rug itself. This goes double for many inexpensive rugs. One of the most common reasons you buy a rug is for the comfort/cozy factor. The right rug pad can add lots of comfort to thin rugs and make any rug feel more luxe.

The rug’s intended location and floor types the rug will go on are things to consider before you purchase a rug pad. Will your rug go on top of tile, hardwood floors, carpet, or vinyl? I’m covering the best type of rug pad and the different thicknesses and the best type of material for each surface. I will also discuss how to choose the right size rug padding for large area rugs as well as small rugs

Best Rug Pads For Wood Floors

When you are putting a rug over a wood floor, thickness is important. Thicker pads are a great way to give just enough extra cushioning to make the rug feel plush on hard surfaces. Also, through experience, I’ve learned that these (see photo below) budget-friendly PVC rug pads can rub off onto your floor. These rug pads are not worth the price, even though they are a bargain. They can work in other places (like bathrooms).

best rug pads for wool

For wood floors, a felted rug pad like the one pictured above is a good choice. My favorite supplier is Overstock. These also come in a variety of sizes. They are harder to cut because they are a thick rug pad, but that makes them feel plusher underfoot. A thick pad makes a big difference.

Read more about rug pads for wood floors.

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Best Rug Pads For Carpet

When you’re putting a rug on top of carpet, comfort is not the main concern, staying power is what counts. These rug pads by Grip work amazingly well over carpet, or if you are layering one rug on top of another. They come in a ton of sizes and have a very low profile.

rug pad for carpet

If you decide to move a rug to your wood floor DON’T move this pad with the rug. If you don’t like the idea of a full pad, you can also use this sticky rug tape on the edges.

The manufacturer shows this tape being used on hardwood flooring. The catch is that sticky things on hardwood DO come up if they are in place for just a short time, but if the tape stays on for years, the stickiness is stuck on your floor unless you want to put a lot of effort into removing it.

Best Rug Pad For Bathrooms

A rug sliding in the bathroom is the worst because it can be a painful place to fall on hard floors. I sound like an old person, but it’s true for young people too. The stronger the grip the better, especially because the rugs in bathrooms are often smaller rugs that are lightweight and washable (which also move around more easily).

rug pad for bathroom

This rug pad is a good option because it is sticky enough to provide a strong grip to keep a rug in place on tile, marble, or any other slick surface. I don’t like to use double-sided sticky tape in a bathroom because when you want to wash the rug it sticks to the edges of the rug.

Do you Need a Rug Pad with Outdoor Rugs?

It depends on where your rug is going outdoors. It is nice to have something to hold an outdoor rug in place. But outside there is a lot more dirt and dust that can get trapped in a rug pad. For the outdoors, my top choice are these sticky corner pads because they pick up the least amount of dirt.

These corner grips are enough to keep the edges from rolling and they are inexpensive enough that you can throw them out when they get dirty.

How To Get The Right Size Rug Pad

The more expensive felted rug pads come in sizes intended for all of the most common rug sizes. The right rug pad size should be at least 1.5 inches smaller than the size of your area rug on each side. This gives you enough of a gap that the rug pad never shows. You can cut PVC pads or other thin pads easily, but the thicker ones require an exacto knife.

  • 8×10 rug needs a pad that is 7’9″ x 9’9″ (three inches smaller than the rug).
  • 6×9 rug needs a pad that is 5’9″ x 8’9″
  • 5×8 rug needs a pad that is 4’9″ x 7’9″

The next time you buy a rug, be sure to get a rug pad that’s right for your room. They help to keep your rug in place and feel a lot softer underfoot.  

Before you go, if you enjoy this post you might be interested to learn about Ruggable’s new cushioned rug pad.

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