Underlay Buying Guide

Underlay is the most overlooked aspect of purchasing a new floor. Old underlay is prone to crumble or collapse especially in high traffic areas which may cause your new carpet to ridge or appear uneven. Old underlay also harbours dust and dirt which can seep through to the surface, ruining the appearance of your beautiful new carpet.

We always recommend that underlay is laid or replaced when fitting new flooring.

Benefits include:

  1. Better feel – underlay provides the cushioning that makes your carpet feel comfortable and luxurious underfoot
  2. Better look – underlay protects the carpet and keeps it looking new for its lifetime. Quality underlay will help to prevent the pile from flattening and enables the carpet to retain its appearance for longer
  3. Longevity – underlay acts like a ‘shock absorber’, enabling it to sit properly and stand up to wear and tear, and helping it to last longer
  4. Reducing energy costs – a new underlay helps to keep the heat in, which will reduce energy bills
  5. Reducing noise – a carpeted floor is quiet, but a carpet with underlay can be 2.5 times quieter. Ideal if you have children. Some specialist underlay can reduce noise by even more
  6. Easier cleaning – protecting the carpet pile makes it easier to clean and so more hygienic. Vacuum cleaning is more efficient with underlay as most machines ‘lift’ the carpet pile to provide air circulation and ensure maximum cleaning power. This can help reduce the grinding action of embedded dirt, which can damage the carpet fibres

Different types of underlay:

Everyday anywhere underlay

There are three main types of carpet underlay: PU foam, sponge rubber and crumb rubber.

PU foam underlay

PU foam underlays are made from recycled furniture foam and are both very comfortable and light in weight. They are excellent insulators with a higher than average tog rating compared to say a rubber underlay. They can be used all around the home and are available in a range of thicknesses. We recommend a less thick underlay for the stairs.

Sponge rubber underlay

A sponge rubber underlay made from synthetic rubber, usually constructed as a "waffle" which is filled with little bubbles of air or a “textured” flat which has a thick wall of spongy rubber. Sponge rubber underlay is really flexible and it is available in a very wide range of thicknesses and colours depending on your needs and budget. These underlays are quite heavy as they are made to support intensive foot traffic on the carpet. If you are worried about the weight then have a look at our PU foam underlays as they are much lighter.

Crumb rubber underlay

Crumb rubber underlay is both incredibly hard wearing and recycled. Crumb rubber is made from recycled car tyres and, not surprisingly, it is extremely tough. This makes a crumb rubber underlay ideal for high traffic areas where the carpet is going to get a lot of punishment, such as halls, stairs and landings as well as rooms (normally dining rooms) where there is heavy furniture.

Crumb rubber underlay has 100% recovery under heavy weights so it will recover from pressure marks and indentations - leaving your carpet looking as good as new. It is not as comfortable as sponge rubber but it feels good underfoot and will protect your carpet for many years.

Underlay designed for underfloor heating

Underfloor heating systems are becoming increasingly popular. Whether you are installing such a system under carpet, or a wood or laminate floor, we have specialist, low tog underlays that will let the heat radiate into your room and keep your heating bills as low as possible.

Underfloor heating underlay is specially manufactured to be low tog (that is one with a tog value of less than 1) so that the heat can radiate into your room. Conventional carpet underlays have much higher tog ratings, which trap the heat below the flooring, rendering the heating system useless. Some underlays have a tog rating as low as 0.35 which is ideal if you decide to have a wood floor.

Underlay designed for wood & laminates

Wood and laminate floors have become increasingly popular. Clean, polished floors are elegant and hard wearing. However a good underlay is essential to make the installation a success. High density sponge rubber underlays for wood and laminate floors mask imperfections in the sub floor enabling you to lay the planks on a flat surface; they provide a barrier against moisture and they also reduce in-room noise by over 30% compared to polyethylene cell foam.

A good quality laminate floor underlay incorporates a vapour protection barrier to protect against moisture and is ten times more effective than polythene sheeting. Plus, laminate underlay can make the installation easier as they even out minor imperfections in the sub-floor.

Whatever your choice of flooring, whether you are seeking a cheap laminate underlay, laminate floor padding or an underlay for wood flooring we can provide a product that will not let you down. Remember that laminate flooring insulation means insulating against the cold, the damp and noise.

Double stuck underlay (for natural flooring & contract carpets)

Natural flooring like coir, seagrass and sisal require underlay that can be adhered to the sub-floor and then receive adhesive to stick the flooring directly to it. If the sub-floor is timber or board, then a conventional firm underlay can be used as it is stapled down.

If however the sub-floor is hard and consequently the underlay cannot be stapled, then a two sided face will be necessary to the underlay so it can be fixed with a tackifier adhesive. Natural flooring will require a firm foam underlay (suitable for double sticking).

To make absolutely sure that there is no side-to-side movement (on large floor areas or where there is a lot of traffic particularly for contract flooring) it helps if the underlay is thinner and denser, in addition to being double-stuck to prevent any rucking.

Selecting the best underlay

When choosing your underlay think carefully about the type of use each room in your house gets. Use our useful guidance notes below to help you decide:

  1. MASTER BEDROOM – fairly low traffic area and looking for luxurious underfoot comfort
  2. SPARE BEDROOM – low traffic area and looking for everyday underfoot comfort
  3. DINING ROOM – Where heavy furniture may need to be moved around and indentations are more common
  4. LOUNGE – fairly high traffic area and outstanding comfort underfoot
  5. HALLWAY, STAIRS & LANDING – high traffic areas so looking for high durability

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