man fitting grey laminate flooring on underlay

 

If you look up at a starry sky at night you're wowed and amazed by the beauty of what you can see. If you're an astrophysicist then you're more likely attracted to what cannot be seen. Scientists call it 'Dark Matter', which makes up the majority of the physical matter in the universe.

That is the recipe of nature. What cannot be seen is fundamentally important to what can be seen. This principle is true when it comes to the importance of choosing the right underlay; the success of your carpet depends on it.

There are so many different types of underlay. That's not just about creating choice but an acknowledgement of need. In this article, you will read about 8 essential tips that will help you navigate through a vast universe of choices.

1. Different Floor Different Underlay

If you plan to install a wooden floor then the underlay required will be different from a carpeted floor. Rigid underlays tend to be used for solid floors such as timber or some vinyl products. Rigid underlays are made from plywood, MDF, and sometimes fibre cement sheeting; these do an excellent job of helping to spread the pressure load on the floor over a wider surface so that the wear on the flooring material is reduced.

Soft underlays are widely used with carpet and are made from felt, foam, and rubber. Carpet underlay varies in thickness, density, and quality. Which one you choose will depend on your budget and other functional goals which we will talk about more below. 

Hard flooring underlay can be foam but you need to give consideration to creating a moisture barrier. For example, laminate flooring on concrete should have a damp proof membrane as part of the laminate underlay.

This is often made from polyethylene or polypropylene. These are just some examples that should prompt you to explore what options are available given the floor type you will be installing. 

2. Think Practical

After you've worked out what options are available based on the floor type, you need to think about the fundamentals of why underlay is fitted in the first place. Its primary role is to help preserve your flooring by creating a barrier between the hard sub-floor surface and your upper floor layer, such as the carpet.

Without that, the footfall and friction of movement would quicky wear your carpet out. So be practical and think about underlay options that will offer the best durability. For example one of the rubber options is crumb rubber which is made from tyre rubber that offers strength and durability.

3. Luxury Factor

Of course, it's not all about function and nothing else. For a luxury feel you will need to think about opting for underlays that are quite thick. However, you need to be careful that your underlay is not just thick and hard, as this will defeat its purpose of creating the feel of luxury underfoot.

Sinking into the carpet is what many people associate with luxury, so think about using an underlay that is thick but not too dense. You may want to consider using underlays that contain memory foam.

4. Underlay for Insulation

Apart from protecting your carpet or flooring, there are other goals that can be satisfied in choosing different types of underlay. An important consideration is the insulation your underlay can provide in preventing heat dissipating through your floor.

This is measured using the TOG rating system that was originally developed by the Shirley Institute. The higher the TOG rating the better the insulation your underlay will provide. 

5. Sounds About Right

When it comes to insulation, don't forget the importance of sound insulation. This is really useful for helping to reduce the sound of walking or thudding within the house as well as reducing sound transferred between floors.

If you have children or musical activities within the house or even sensitive neighbours, and there are many other reasons, you may want to consider the sound attenuation rating of the underlay. You can check out these underlay for sound insulation options to give you an idea.

6. Don't Forget Your Pets

If you have a lot of pets or even if you have a special room for some of them, then don't be quick to use the same underlay as the rest of the house. There are special types of underlay that help to absorb odour and moisture in a non-harmful way. Some underlays have antimicrobial agents that help to prevent anything unhealthy living in your carpet.

7. Don't Forget the Right Adhesive

How you attach your underlay to the floor also needs careful consideration. Once again there are many options and it will depend on the underlay material and the subfloor surface you're attaching to. Check out some examples of adhesives here.

If your planning to hire someone to do this work, make sure they explain what options are available and their recommendations. If you're planning to do the work yourself, then don't underestimate the importance and challenge of attaching the underlay correctly. In fact, this may even influence what type of underlay you opt for.

8. Expensive Carpet — Expensive Underlay

It could be easy to think that you're better off spending your money on an expensive carpet that everyone can see and saving money on a cheaper underlay. This would be a mistake. Try to view your carpet and underlay options as connected and choose both according to your budget; to do otherwise is self-defeating.

Choosing Underlay — Last Step

In this article, you've read about 8 essential tips to help you choose the right underlay for your new home. These principles, of course, apply to anytime you need to replace the carpet in your home. The important thing is to clearly think through what your functional goals are for your underlay.

Once you've got that worked out and an idea of how it fits with your budget, there is one last thing you definitely need to do. That is to walk on it first to see how it feels underfoot. If you want to do that, or you have any questions, you can get in touch with us here.