Do You Need a Rug Pad For Your Afghan Area Rug or Flatweave?

Choosing the right Afghan area rug or flatweave (like a kilim or soumak) for your room takes time and consideration, but there’s something else to think about once you’ve made that purchase.  We’re talking about rug pads.  Rug pads play an important role in keeping your kilim or oriental rug (or any rug!) in place, but they have other roles too.  

  • They prevent wrinkling, buckling and provide cushioning under-foot.  
  • They’re good for providing a little extra insulation (if you live in a cold climate or if your room doesn’t have carpet or drapes).
  • They can help with sound-proofing an emptier, larger space with a hard floor.  
  • They act as a buffer between your floor and your rug, reducing wear and tear.  
  • They boost the air flow around your rug, allowing it to “breathe” which keeps it cleaner and also protect your floor from spillages.

However, despite popular belief, you don’t need to rush out and buy the first rug pad you see.  Sometimes, you just don’t need one and if you do, you must be sure to buy the right type of rug pad.  

Types of Rug Pads

First and foremost, if you do want a rug pad, note that thicker rug pads are best for thicker heavier area rugs. Thinner rug pads are best for thinner rugs like kilim and soumak flatweaves.  

If you bought an area rug, then you can use a thicker rug pad with more cushioning.

If you bought a flatweave, then you probably need a rug pad that has a strong grip, and a low profile- a pad made of felt cushioning and rubber. If you desire extra cushion to your rug pad, there are plenty of great low profile rugs which also have the cushion you're looking for. 

Smaller rugs and runners need good grip, but larger rugs don’t need as much – especially if they’re anchored with furniture (I’ll talk more about this below).  Flatweaves need good grip, no matter the size, so look for a rug pad that offers maximum grip.

Always choose a rug pad made out of quality materials, preferably natural materials for longevity and to protect your floor (and rug) best.

Pick the Right Size!

Next, it’s important to make sure that you select the right size to fit your rug.  Choose the wrong size and you could end up with a rug pad that’s too large for your rug or even too small, which means that it won’t secure your beautiful kilim in place and it might even peek out from the edges. Rug pads should be a few inches smaller than your handmade rug or flatweave.  

  • Runners

    Your Afghan runner will likely be placed in a hallway or a narrow area, so you definitely won’t want it to move around.  Hallways are high-traffic areas too and you do have to think about door clearance because otherwise, your rug will move around – a lot!  So, for runners choose a low-profile rug pad that’s non-slip.  This will keep it nicely in place and avoid accidents – especially if you’ve got a family home with children running around.

  • Small Rugs

    Like runners, these rugs need to stay in place.  As they’re smaller, they likely don’t hold as much weight, so they’ll move around if they don’t have the right rug pad underneath.  To prevent bunching, moving around and sliding, you’ll need a good quality, low-profile rug pad that’s got strong grip.  The best rug pads for small rugs are non-slip, open-weave rug pads or those with a waffle design.  Alternatively, a rubber and felt rug pad will also do the job well.

  • Medium Sized Rugs (4x6 to 5x9 foot)

    These rugs may or may not require rug pads.  My Afghan rugs are relatively heavy so try out your rug first. Mainly, rug pad requirement depends on where you position your rug and whether or not you place furniture on top.  If you place your oriental or Afghan rug on a hard floor even though you might have heavy furniture pieces on top, your rug will doubtless move around.  A rug pad will stabilize your rug or kilim and it will also give you nice cushioning under you feet.  Felt with rubber rug pads are ideal for medium sized rugs on a hard floor, because rubber grips hard floor really well and won’t leave marks either.  If you have a thick carpet and you weigh your rug down with furniture you might well get away without using a rug pad, although a rug pad will help your rug stay nice and smooth without bunching or wrinkling, especially if it has an upper layer made out of felt.  It’s a matter of choice.  

  • Large Rugs (8x10 foot+)

    I would say that if your large rug covers your area sufficiently, without gaps at the side, you may well not need a rug pad at all.  Certainly, large kilims or handmade oriental rugs have plenty of weight in them that should help to keep them in place (think of all that wool!), but many customers want that extra peace of mind that their rug won’t bunch or wrinkle.  A rug pad will definitely prevent that problem – but you might need a different type of rug pad.  Look for cushioned pads rather than non-slip pads.    A cushioned pad will give your rug extra-comfort under foot, which is a real bonus if your rug is on a wooden or hard floor.  As a word of advice, if you have a flat-weave rug then you may need a rug pad that combines both grip with cushioning.  These flatweaves are more likely to buckle or wrinkle. 

Different Floors

You’re more likely to want a rug pad for your prized Afghan oriental rug if you have a wooden, tiled, or other hard floor.  The truth is these types of floors are more slippery than carpeted floors and you’ll get rug movement if your rug isn’t secured properly.  Heavy furniture can help to anchor your rug, but smaller rugs (and runners) will always slip and slide without one.  

  • Protection

    As well as the above, if your floor is particularly precious to you, a rug pad will stop a hard floor from developing scratches and marks.  So, if that’s a priority, and it is for many people – we would suggest getting a rug pad no matter what size your rug, small, medium or large.

  • Comfort

    Then, of course, a hard floor can be uncomfortable to walk on, even with an Afghan or oriental rug on top.  A rug pad offers remarkable cushioning under-foot, adding that extra level comfort that your feet long for!

  • Carpeted Floors

    You might get away without a rug pad under your rug if you have carpet, but again, small and medium sized rugs will still move around, they need an anchor so a rug pad will make a big difference.  As mentioned, a large rug on carpet could easily get away without a rug pad, because its size will weigh it down.  Rug Mine rugs are especially heavy and luxurious and a medium or large sized rug from The Rug Mine shouldn’t need a rug pad, particularly if it’s placed on carpet and has pieces of furniture on-top.

    If you’re putting your Afghan rug on carpet, I’d suggest testing your rug first before rushing out and buying a rug pad.  So, place furniture on top of your rug to “anchor” the rug but, if you notice that your rug is buckling or wrinkling, I’d recommend rug pads.  They’ll not only keep your rug nice and stable, but they’ll also immediately eliminate those wrinkles!

Things to consider:

Finally, to summarize, here’s a list of points to think about – remember, if you do buy a rug pad, make sure it’s high quality but check if you definitely need one before making that purchase!

  • Thicker rug pads are good for heavier area rugs; lighter and thinner rugs (like kilim rugs) are best with thinner rug pads.
  • Consider door clearance if you place your Afghan rug close to a door.
  • Kilim rugs, small rugs, and runners need firm grip to stop them sliding, bunching and wrinkling.
  • High-traffic areas (such as hallways) need rugs firmly in place to avoid accidents!
  • Your floor type, hard floors lend themselves well to rugs and a rug pad gives you extra cushioning under foot plus they stop rugs sliding around. They also protect your floor.
  • Waffle designed rug pads are excellent for preventing dirt accumulating.
  • Rubber rug pads are excellent for gripping hard floors.
  • Rug pads can also help with insulation too – especially in a draughty room.
  • If you want extra soundproofing in a room without carpet, a rug pad can help to muffle sound.
  • Do you really need a rug pad, especially if you have a medium-sized or large rug?  Think about everything in this article before making that decision!

Where can I purchase a rug pad?

For my client's rug pad needs, I recommend Rug Pad USA.  I like that their rug pads are sustainable, because they don't contain phthalates or other toxic components that can negatively affect indoor air quality.  They also have great grip and cushion, and they're designed to last a long time.  Once you choose the right rug pad from their website, they'll custom-cut it for you and ship it to your home.

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