Benefits of Underlay
The right good quality underlay cushions and supports a carpet ensuring it wears evenly as well as keeping in warmth and insulating against sound. This will prolong the life of a carpet by as much as 40 percent and it is essential for carpets without a felt backing.
Skimping on underlay will affect the wear time of the carpet so it makes sense to buy new underlay for a new carpet. A good underlay will improve the feel underfoot of all types of carpet.
Reusing old or poor underlay is a false economy as it will feel hard and unwelcoming. Reduce the life of your new carpet by causing the fibres to break down quickly.
Types of Underlay
The most common types of underlay are:
Sponge rubber, this is the most popular type, it comes in flat or waffle patterns and different weights for different uses. The most well known brands are Tredaire and Duralay.
PU (polyurethane) Foam. This is the product we use most. It is typically made for recycled foam offcuts. It has good performance and lots of thickness options. It is lightweight, plus it can be recycled time and again after use. Generally we use the best selling Cloud 9 Foam manufactured by Ball and Young for carpets, that are stretch fitted on gripper.
Felt is the traditional (but eco friendly) underlay made from recycled wood, jute and synthetic fibres. It creates a dense firm pad, which makes it excellent for heavy traffic commercial areas.
Wood / laminate underlay – Engineered Wood and Laminate flooring will also require underlay. This reduces noise, smooths out any minor imperfections in the sub-floor, improves the sound proofing of the product and provides a protective barrier for any small amount of moisture in the sub-floor. It should be noted that wood or laminate products should not be fitted on a damp floor. A good retailer will test for damp and should refuse to install a wood floor where the sub-floor is not acceptably dry.
Other Specialist Underlays
If you home has underfloor heating you will need an underlay with a low tog rating of less than one. If you use normal underlay it will act as barrier to the heat transfer. More information on underfloor heating and flooring can be found in my blog.
In situations where we need make sure the carpet does not move, for example in natural flooring products, offices with chairs on wheels or for a disabled person in a wheelchair, we recommend a product like Durafit. This is a felt type underlay and is fitted on a double stick system. This means the underlay is stuck to the sub-floor using a quick release adhesive and the carpet is then stuck to the underlay. This prevents the carpet moving in stretching because of the traffic or the type of product.
Noise reduction; standard underlay does significantly help in noise reduction so in upstairs flats and appartments, I would always recommend fitting a carpet with underlay. If you need even more extra sound insulation and noise reduction then there are specialist products like Acoustilay that we can supply and fit to improve the situation.