Carpet underlay is not a mere luxury. Underlay has in fact proven to drastically lengthen the life of the carpet while enhancing the luxury feel of the installation. It also improves the thermal and acoustic insulation.
Most of us spend a great deal of time choosing our carpets, but very little if any choosing our carpet underlay. Why could something that is hidden beneath the carpet be important? Won’t the cheapest underlay be good enough? When you know a little more about it, you’ll see why it’s important to know about underlay. I liken the importance of underlay like putting a set of retreads on a Ferrari. You just wouldn’t do it. You would not be able to get the performance out of the Ferrari. Just like you will not get the same performance or longevity out of your carpets
Why is Underlay Needed?
When asked why carpet underlay is needed, most would come up with one or a combination of these standard replies:
- It provides a cushioning effect when you walk on it.
- Underlay provides better noise insulation than carpet alone.
- Underlay provides insulation against cold, bare floors in winter.
Actually, all of the above answers are correct, and depending on the installation are equally and independently important.
In your home you want luxury and comfort, so that when you walk on your carpet, the underlay has a cushioning effect on the carpet as well as your feet. When you choose a good quality underlay, this works two fold, one: it helps prevent your feet from grinding in to the carpet and two: it can greatly extend the life of your carpet. A good underlay will support your carpet and reduce the trampolining effect that causes your carpet to delaminate. This is in my mind a real valid reason why a good underlay is not a waste of money. On the contrary, in the long run it will save you money.
Types of Underlay
There are three standard types of carpet underlay:
- Felt underlay is the original type of carpet underlay. It is made from wool and other fabrics. It is rarely used today, and is quite expensive, but felt used to be the only type of underlay available, and it still holds its own when talking about commercial installations and woven carpet installations like Axminster in commercial building.
- Rubber underlay is springy, durable and, because of its cellular construction, breathable. This is something to look at, as it does not retain or absorb odours. In the past rubber was considered a relatively expensive option, but was considered to be far superior to any of the other types of underlay.
- Foam underlay was originally introduced as an inexpensive alternative to rubber. However, foam technology has improved to the point where this is not necessarily the case anymore. There are great foam products available in today’s market, and the price point between foam and rubber is almost nonexistent.
In addition to carpet underlay, underlays are now available for timber floating floors and vinyl floors. Floating floor underlay’s are primarily for noise reduction while vinyl underlays include noise reduction and to make a strip timbre or a structural floor suitable for the vinyl installation
How to Choose Underlay
First of all, don’t make price your first consideration when purchasing an underlay. Instead, choose the best underlay for your needs. For example, a thick, dense rubber underlay may provide excellent noise insulation, a quality that is well worth paying more for in upstairs bedrooms. Some other things to consider include:
- If you intend to install a floor heating system, talk to your supplier before you choose an underlay. Some underlays are designed specifically for this application.
- If possible, try an underlay before you buy it. Depending on your choice of carpet, one underlay may feel better underfoot than another. Note where I said underfoot. When shopping for carpet and underlay, always place the underlay on a hard surface, the carpet on top of that, and where possible take your shoes off and place your bear foot on the test area. This will give you a 100% feeling of how your new floor is going to feel
- When replacing your carpet, believe your supplier when they tell you that you should replace your underlay as well. Underlay wears out at the same rate as carpets. Most manufactures will have a lifetime warranty. This means for the life of the carpet. Not for ever. Remember the Ferrari example we made earlier. The few dollars you save by installing your new carpet on top of an old underlay will be lost when your carpet wears out prematurely
Carpet laying is a viable DIY project, but unless you’re installing an inexpensive carpet in an unimportant room, it’s unadvisable, and we recommend that you employ the services of a professional carpet layer. The end result of getting the professionals in will give you an Absolute Quality Floorcovering installation in a fraction of the time it takes most amateurs to do a substandard job. There’s nothing nicer than the look feel and smell of a professionally installed carpet your home or offices. Leave it to us, and that’s what you’ll get.
At Absolute Quality Floorcoverings we are proud to recommend the use of Bridgestone rubber and foam carpet underlay, Dunlop quality carpet cushioning and MJS quality flooring underlays