How Vital Is Underlay?
What is underlay?
Underlay is a layer of sponge rubber, foam, felt or crumb that’s fitted underneath new carpet. Underlay is just as important, if not more important, than the carpet you are looking to buy. Carpet fitting should never be done without having an underlay. Do I need to have an underlay? I hear you ask. Well, here are some benefits to having underlay fitted with your new carpet/flooring.
It levels the floor – If you’re laying new wooden flooring, it’s imperative that your flooring is level. The smallest of bumps can create gaps between the planks, inviting dust and dirt to gather, as well as looking messy. Uneven floors can also creak underfoot, which can decrease the floorings life span and cause an annoying sound every time you walk across your flooring. This leads me to my next point…
Reduces sound – Underlay absorbs and muffles the sound of footsteps over the floor surface, which makes it a perfect option for traditional houses or if you live in a split story block of flats, as your neighbour below, you won’t hear you walking around.
Keeps in the heat – It not only insulates sound but is also a thermal insulator, keeping the whole households feet toasty warm. An additional benefit to this is that it’s also energy-efficient, ultimately saving money on heating.
Comfort – Is it home if it’s not comfortable? Fitting underlay with a new floor softens its impact underfoot. The thicker the underlay, the softer the carpet will feel underfoot.
Makes flooring last longer – The continual foot traffic on carpet/flooring can cause it to flatten, deform or crack. Underlay acts as a physical cushion and can increase the lifespan of your flooring.
Improves hygiene – Underlay prevents moisture and dirt from seeping between the cracks. It’s a more uniform space which makes vacuuming and mopping a breeze!
Minimal indentation – Heavy furniture can sometimes leave lasting indentations in your soft carpets, which becomes a nightmare when you fancy changing the room around. But with an underlay, it minimises the chances of indentation marks, increasing the lifespan of your carpet.
Which underlay do you need?
Depending on what room in the house you’re looking to get new flooring for will depend on which underlay is best. If you’re laying carpet over a hard floor that receives a lot of foot traffic, such as a living room or hallway and stairs, for example, then a firmer underlay would be your best option. However, in a bedroom that has less footfall, a soft underlay would be acceptable to use.
Felt underlay remains to be the most hardwearing but is not easily obtainable. It is also the most environmentally friendly as its often made from recycled fibres.
Another resilient underlay is rubber, ideal for commercial flooring or heavy footfall areas in the home.
Foam underlay is the most popular type of underlay in the UK. A typical rule of thumb for foam underlay is the higher the density you choose, the better support your carpet will have, leading to an extension of the lifespan of your carpet.
If you’re looking to put down wooden or laminate flooring, there are underlays made explicitly for such flooring. Do not use ordinary carpet underlay for this purpose, as it could be a very costly mistake.
Most modern underlays now have a tog rating, much like bedding, helping the customer determine the thickness of the underlay and the thermal insulation.