Let’s take a look at which underlay you need for different types of carpet to suit your own carpet requirements…
Soft vs firm
Imagine your favourite T-shirt. It’s made from cotton and the fabric stretches as you wear it. Over time, as you continually stretch the fabric through wear the cotton fibres begin to fray and eventually the shirt becomes mis-shaped and can tear. A similar process can occur with carpets as you walk on then. A soft underlay will allow the carpet to stretch more than a firm one, which is why a firm underlay protects better in areas of heavy footfall.
Depending on which room in the house the carpet is intended for will determine which underlay is best to use. For instance, if you are laying carpet over a hard floor which will receive a lot of foot traffic, such as the living room or hall, then a firmer underlay will be the best option and offer the most protection. A bedroom on the other hand, which receives less footfall, would be fine with a soft underlay.
Traditional felt underlay is not as easily obtainable as it used to be, but still remains the most hardwearing on underlays on the market. It is also the most environmentally friendly, often made from recycled fibre.
Rubber is another extremely resilient underlay ideal for commercial setting and those heavy foot traffic areas. It is available as waffle rubber and crumb rubber.
Most modern carpet underlays have tog ratings to help the customer determine its thickness. Similar to duvets, the tog rating will reflect the thermal insulation also. This is important if you have under flooring heating.
Depending on the carpet, sometimes only certain underlays will do. This can apply to Sisals, woven Wilton’s and Axminster weaves as these quite often require a crumb rubber underlay.
Underlays do wear out over a time, so we recommend you always replace your underlay when buying new carpet. Why spend good money on a new carpet and not give it the best protection you can? Another important consideration is how much to spend. In short, as much as you can afford. Good quality underlay performs better in all respects than a lower quality. If a retailer is offering “free underlay” make sure you check the quality. Remember, the retailer has to pay for that underlay so the cost is being recovered somewhere in the price or it’s cheap underlay.
A good retailer will be able to guide you through which is the ideal underlay for the carpet you are buying. Seek their advice, it’s their job to know.
Our Home Improve flooring panel of flooring experts can be contacted at…