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Carpet has long been the top choice for comfortable flooring in bedrooms. This is likely because of the soft feel, welcoming aesthetic, and the ability for it to always be temperate and warm to the touch. Being woven and soft to the touch, it's natural to assume that carpeting provides some insulating value in a room. When picking the most efficient flooring for rooms in your home, heat retention is an important aspect to take into account. So what do the facts say about carpet - does it make a room hotter or colder? For your convenience, we've brought you the answer.
Carpet flooring is actually an effective insulating material that can help maintain the heat in a room. While it won't create any warmth, it will help to retain warmer temperatures. Even if the air in a room is cool, carpets will also prevent the floor from feeling cold to bare feet. Along with the benefit of its comfort and design, carpet can be used to increase the insulation of a home and better control room climate.
Now that we've established that carpet is a good insulating flooring choice, continue reading to learn more about what makes it so effective and how to make the best choices for your own home.
How Carpet Affects the Temperature of a Room
Carpet fibers are natural insulators with low heat conduction values. A carpet doesn't have a flat side but is woven from thousands of fibers that increase the complexity of its surface. They don't conduct heat well, so latent heat in a room will not escape easily while keeping cold air out.
Whereas wooden floors or tile floors stay cool more easily, carpets will make warmer temperatures linger on the surface and in the air. Carpets also have the benefit of often being installed with carpet pads that can increase the overall thickness and insulation value.
There is also a perceived warmth of carpet flooring to take into account. When the air is cold, carpet floors will always feel warmer and more comfortable to stand and walk on. How surfaces feel to the touch can change our perceived feelings about the room which is also important. That is part of why carpet is so often used in bedrooms or lounging rooms. It is much more pleasant to get out of bed onto carpet than a frigid tile floor.
If you've considered a ceiling fan while you're planning your bedroom design for comfort, check out our article on that topic, Should You Put A Ceiling Fan In The Bedroom?
What Variables Matter in Carpet Heat Retention?
The thickness of a carpet is the most important factor when it comes to insulation value. Each inch of carpet thickness greatly increases its insulating power. The more fiber that is densely packed into the weave, the more heat retention you'll experience. You can use this to your advantage in many ways. If you want the comfort of carpet without as much heat, you can use a thinner carpet.
The materials of the carpet can also affect its insulating power. Wool and shag carpets, for example, are among the most insulating flooring choices available. The color of a carpet can also affect how much heat it holds onto if it comes into contact with sunlight. Padding thickness, as we'll discuss further below, is also a main variable as to how much insulation a carpet can provide.
If you're wondering about other ways to increase the heat in a room, check out our article, Can Heated Floors Go Under Carpet?
What is a Good Carpet Thickness?
The most common standard for carpet thickness is 7/16th inches. You would not want anything thinner than 1/4 of an inch. If a carpet is too thin, it won't insulate as well and it can get damaged as it is scratched and pressed against the floor underneath it. If a carpet is too thick and plush, it can become warped or pushed around over the padding too often and cause damage.
A professional can advise you on how to match up a good carpet type with the appropriately thick padding for style and longevity.
Does Carpet have an R-value?
Carpets have an R-value based on their insulating effectiveness. The padding material and overall carpet thickness are the greatest indicators of the overall R-Value. Carpets with urethane padding have the highest R-value of all the other padding choices, and they range from 1.05 to 2.15. Rubber padding has very low insulation power but will stand up to much more foot traffic. Fiber padding is a good middle ground. Being made of plant and hair fibers, it offers good durability and fairly good R-values ranging from 0.97 to 1.94. It is best for higher traffic areas that also need fair amounts of insulation of both hot and cold air.
Most of the time the R-value is printed on the label of the product in the store. If there is no R-value label on your carpet, you can calculate it by multiplying the carpet's thickness in inches by 2.6 as a general rule.
If you add the R-values of the carpet itself and the padding together, you will arrive at the total insulation value of the flooring. If your combined R-value reaches 2 or higher, that is a strong rating that will help retain temperatures in a room during all seasons.
Do You Need Carpet Padding Under carpet?
It is almost always a good idea to have padding underneath your carpet. Padding helps a carpet maintain its quality and durability. Foot traffic will do much more damage to any carpeted flooring if there is no padding to help absorb the weight over time. Padding is also an essential component of carpet when it comes to insulation value. It often makes an even greater difference than the woven carpet itself, depending on the materials you choose.
Many carpets will actually have a void warranty if you do not use proper padding during installation. Flooring specialists or installers can help you pick the right padding material and thickness to ensure your carpet stays in good condition. Carpet alone with no padding can warp and distort underneath foot traffic over time so it's always best to check first.
Is a Thicker Carpet Pad Better?
The thickness of the carpet pad is possibly the biggest factor in how much insulation or R-value your carpet flooring can provide. The carpet pad thickness, material, and density should all be taken into consideration when making a choice.
Thickness and material will determine how durable and heat-insulating the flooring is. Density will mostly determine the comfort of the carpet, and the right density is important for longevity. Thin padding will help disperse the heat, while thicker padding will help hold on to it.
Carpeting is a Great Tool for Keeping Rooms Comfortable
Even though carpets don't generate heat in a space, they are a great tool for keeping a room comfortable. The carpet itself is a great insulator that will hold onto warmth and not let it escape. The soft woven surface will also help keep you feel cozy regardless of the room climate. You can pick a thinner or thicker style of carpet and padding to get the insulating effects that you want for each room. Carpet is a great customizable flooring option to help regulate insulation, heat, and comfort in any room of your home.