03 Feb Picking the Right Pad
Requirements for damp basements might challenge use of all natural, chemical free carpet pads
Q. I want to put carpet that has low chemical emissions in my basement. I also had planned on using a natural fiber carpet pad. I have not ever had water leak into the basement, but there is some moisture, due simply to the fact that it is a room below ground level.
Do natural fiber carpet pads hold up to moisture and would it be better to use a sheet of plastic as a vapor barrier under the carpet pad?
A. Installing carpet in the basement you describe requires a moisture- and mildew-resistant carpet pad, which will be glued in some spots to the basement’s cement floor. Putting a vapor barrier under the carpet pad would allow the pad to move and bunch up in spots under your carpet, which is not desirable.
If the basement does not leak, my usual recommendation would be a ½-inch rebond or rubber pad that is water-resistant and treated with an antimicrobial agent to prevent mold and mildew. If you were looking to install laminate or any hard surface floating floor, a vapor barrier would be needed.
While more people are opting to put natural and low-chemical products in their homes, chemical-free carpet pads made from natural fibers are not protected to resist continuous moisture or treated with anything to prevent biological growth.
While most traditional carpet pads now have CRI Green Label indoor-air quality certification, this does not appease all consumers. This is because the standards for this label are not as stringent as the CRI Green Label Plus standards that are used for testing chemical emissions from carpet.
For those who want pad that passes more stringent standards, there are a growing number of options. These include froth polyurethane designed pads that have GREENGUARD certification, which is more stringent than CRI Green Label.
Even if you have not seen these products on display in your retailer’s flooring showroom, the company should be aware of these companies and know how to get samples and information for you.
Nancy Kibbee designs rooms, sources products and sometimes writes about it at naturalinteriors.com.